THE 76ERS ROSTER currently stands at 14 players, one below the league limit of 15. But a closer look at the assembled group shows a much, much smaller sample of what coach Brett Brown has to work with right now.
The backcourt is pretty much set. Michael Carter-Williams and James Anderson are the starting backcourt, backed by Tony Wroten and Darius Morris, with Evan Turner able to contribute some minutes back there. Jason Richardson probably won't play this season after a devastating knee injury late last season.
The frontcourt starters are Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes, backed by Lavoy Allen (who is a huge question mark right now with his poor play and seemingly hurting knee). Shelved are Arnett Moultrie, Kwame Brown and Nerlens Noel. After that it's Daniel Orton, picked up just a couple of weeks ago and whose biggest positive so far is that he's lost a lot of the extra weight he came in with, and Hollis Thompson, a totally unproven wing player.
Think times are tough in Philly sports? Look at that roster. After Young, Turner and Hawes, you have a player who could have a nice career in the league (Carter-Williams), but who is totally unproven. The rest are all borderline NBA players.
So is something in the works to make this roster more competitive or is Sam Hinkie going to ride an 82-game highway with this lemon?
It is no secret the tanking program is in place and the hope is that the team can land one of the top picks in June's draft. But when a source said that Rodney Williams and Gani Lawal had been cut on Saturday, leaving the team one under the limit, you had to wonder if something was in the works. Could it be a deal involving either Young, Turner or Hawes? Turner's $6.7 million and Hawes' $6.5 million could come off the books after this season. Young will make $8.6 million this year, which goes to $9.1 million next season.
If anything is done in the near future, it would appear that Young would be the one who travels. He is a tireless worker who can play multiple positions and has strong character, which goes a long way. Any team on the verge of getting over a proverbial hump - whether it be contending for a title or securing a playoff spot - would covet Young's talents.
Turner and Hawes both will be available after the season, and possibly at less money, so a team grabbing them now is unlikely. So maybe something involving Young is in the works. Or perhaps, and more likely, the Sixers are going to sign a player who was cut by another team. Whatever the move, if one is made, it will probably not be earth shattering and will leave the Sixers in the current state of anticipated badness.
The focus isn't necessarily on the now, but at the same time Brown is very excited at the promise that Carter-Williams has shown thus far. Though he didn't really experience much time against top point guard talent in the preseason, save for the schooling he received by Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, MCW has given the Sixers brass hope that he will be the point guard for many years.
"He's doing a really good job because when you look at him it's not like he's going to knock somebody's head off from the start," Brown said. "There's a cruisey side of him, an aloof side of him that at times gets to me. It's not how I think or what I believe in, at times. But that's how somebody built him. You coach him and you get him going and you get him aggressive and he does. There's a competitive side to him when the lights go on, that has surprised me. And there's a talent in him that has surprised me. He's better than I thought.
"When you look at his assist-to-turnover ratio [3.1 to 1 in preseason] as a young rookie at 6-6 and 180-pound point guard . . . That doesn't justify anything, I'm still going to do what coaches are supposed to do and get him a little bit hungrier and aggressive and leading his team. But I think he's a really good player and I think he's for real. I think he's going to be a keeper."
He may be one of the only ones, for now.