THERE COULD BE some good news coming for coach Brett Brown and his 76ers, and they sure could use it. Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who has missed seven games with a knee infection, practiced yesterday and might be available tomorrow night when they host the Brooklyn Nets, a team that drilled them by 36 points Monday, the Sixers' seventh consecutive loss.
"It went pretty well," Carter-Williams said about yesterday's practice at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "I practiced pretty much throughout the whole thing. I was out there and my wind wasn't too bad and my knee was feeling good."
Asked whether he thought he could play tomorrow, MCW said: "I hope so. I hope I get to go out and play. I'm not 100 percent sure yet."
It can't be overstated how much his presence would be welcomed. Though backup Tony Wroten has done more than an admirable job of filling in for Carter-Williams, the rookie's absence has disrupted Brown's rotation.
"He was good," Brown said of Carter-Williams' practice yesterday. "His wind, without a doubt, was a worry, as it should be. But just to see him with the group and running around again and see him playing basketball again is terrific."
Asked then whether MCW would be able to go on Friday, the coach said: "I'm not sure, I'm not sure. It's pointing toward that, but we really don't know. We'll see how he gets through today and tomorrow and make a decision on game day."
The return of the rookie will be a welcome sight to a group that is thoroughly frustrated. While losses were expected to mount in this rebuilding season, it is never easy to absorb them.
"[We have to] just play," Thaddeus Young said. "[We have to] just play and stay focused, and I have to remind myself that I have to be a leader for my teammates. I have to be one of the key guys on my team and just go out there and play. I can't really let too much get to me. You might get frustrated at times, but that's just part of the game, part of life.
"We're a very inexperienced team, at the end of the day. We have a lot of guys who play hard and who go out there and want to win. I think the main focus is just keep building on what we have right now and what we're trying to do. It's going to be better in the future. But right now, we just have to keep playing, focusing in and figuring things out. Throughout the course of time, we will.
"We're going out there, we're playing hard. Me, Spencer [Hawes] and Evan [Turner], we're talking to the guys and just trying to keep their spirits up and stuff like that. We're just maintaining focus on ultimate goal, which is basically just trying to win games."
That might be easier now that the star rookie is back.
"We lost all the games he sat," Brown said of the seven games missed by his rookie. "He is not a savior and, as we have all said, winning is going to be a byproduct of trying to get through this development stage of the program. To bring him back is a good thing, from a confidence standpoint with his teammates, from a talent perspective that he definitely brings to the table. We've seen skillwise what he can do. But you can't forget, we have to keep moving forward, and that was the disappointing thing the last two games.
"Defensively and some other areas, we were not even close to building anything. I think that he's going to add to both sides of the ball to continue in that development, building-block process."