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Brown: 'We are going through one of the most challenging times ...'

76ers coach Brett Brown made no bones about it.

"We are going through one of the most challenging times that I have had since I have been here," he said following Wednesday's practice. "I can see that."

He tells the Sixers (7-21) that. They speak freely about it.

"There's no elephants in the room as it relates to the bigs and the situation," Brown said, referring to the team's centers.

A roster overloaded with capable centers is the biggest problem.  They have three starting caliber centers in Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. They have a very capable backup center in Richaun Holmes, who also deserves minutes.

Giving all four of them playing time has been impossible. The Sixers were unable to move Noel or Okafor in a trade this summer.

Noel even called having three starting caliber centers "crazy" before the team reported to training camp in September. He later voiced displeasure after only playing 8 minutes, 2 seconds against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Holmes hasn't said anything. However, he can't be happy about going from a reliable reserve, who started two games, to not playing at all.

So far, the situation hasn't hindered the players' friendship.

Brown mentioned that Noel, Embiid and Okafor all huddled at one point during Tuesday's game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

"That is heartwarming," Brown said. "That's real. It's not their fault that they are in this situation. We are trying to figure it all out together."

As a result, he thinks the four-game Christmas road trip is the perfect time for team bonding. The Sixers play at the Phoenix Suns on Friday. Then they'll play the Sacramento Kings on Monday before facing the Utah Jazz on Dec. 29 and the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 30.

Follow and contact 76ers beat writer Keith Pompey on Twitter and on Instagram at PompeyOnSixers.