OKLAHOMA CITY - Aside from their decision in June's NBA draft, perhaps the biggest question surrounding the 76ers is: What will they do with Thaddeus Young?
Will the team keep the seven-year veteran to provide leadership on a rebuilding team? Or will the Sixers try to package him with one of their newly acquired second-round picks in an offseason trade?
Those are legitimate questions, but the answer might not be totally out of the 6-foot-8 power forward's control.
Young has averaged 24.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 4 steals in the five games since the trade deadline passed on Feb. 20. If he continues to play at that level, one can only assume that his trade value will be higher than what the Sixers got in return for Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes. The Sixers received second-round picks and expiring contracts for those two at the trade deadline.
Young said he is simply focused on being a leader for the Sixers (15-45), who carry a 14-game losing streak into Tuesday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
"Guys always talk and they always say [that at] any given time and given moment, you are auditioning for 29 other teams," Young said. "So me personally, I'm just taking it as going out there and growing as a player and growing as a leader and taking steps towards more success in my career."
Young is approaching the final 22 games in much the same way he played before he signed a five-year, $43 million contract in December 2011.
"I just took it as going out there and playing and focusing in and me doing the job and the task at hand," he said. "I didn't look at it as I was auditioning or anything like that.
"It crosses your mind. But at the end of the day, you have to just play basketball and things will work out."
Young and his teammates will have to be at their very best against the Thunder (45-15). Oklahoma City has the best record in the Western Conference and an MVP favorite in Kevin Durant.
The swingman is averaging a league-leading 31.6 points per game along with 7.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.5 steals. Durant had a scare in Sunday night's 116-99 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. He twisted his left ankle in the second quarter when he stepped on Gerald Henderson's foot.
After walking it off, Durant finished with 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists. It will be interesting to see whether the Thunder rest him on Tuesday.
If that happens, the Sixers still will have their hands full trying to defend point guard Russell Westbrook and power forward Serge Ibaka.