AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - The 76ers now have tough decisions to make.
Do they keep Casper Ware as the third point guard? Have Malcolm Lee and Chris Johnson shown enough to make the roster? And will Brandon Davies' status as a great locker-room guy outweigh his on-court limitations for the second straight season?
The deadline to trim NBA rosters from 20 players to 15 is Monday at 5 p.m.
Coach Brett Brown had said the Sixers would release players after their final preseason game. That came Thursday night in a 109-103 loss to the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
So who's getting released?
"We will review it all tomorrow morning and maybe even Saturday," Brown said Thursday morning. "None of these decisions are preconceived. There's isn't in my mind definite things going on.
"So all these things you are asking me, I think Monday at 5 o'clock is the deadline," Brown added. "I'd be surprised if we react sooner than that."
You have to assume that the team will release Ronald Roberts and Lee. The same for Ware, if the Yahoo Sports report about the Sixers' being in talks with the Brooklyn Nets for reserve guard Marquis Teague is true. The Sixers would receive Teague for essentially nothing in return.
"Right now, I'm just trying to think about what I can worry about," Ware said. "If they do that, they do that. Whatever happens, happens. As long as I give it my all, that's all I'm worried about."
Meanwhile, Davies, JaKarr Sampson, Drew Gordon, Alexey Shved, Johnson, and Jason Richardson appear to be on the bubble.
Sampson thinks he has made a good case to make the team.
"Coach wants this team to be built off defense. I feel like I showed I have the ability to become an elite defender and be able to guard ones, twos, and threes," Sampson said. "And if I get some size on me, I can even guard fours in the post. So I think I showed that."
The Sixers probably will keep Richardson, who is guaranteed $6.6 million, if they can.
The 14th-year veteran is the unquestioned leader of a youthful team. However, he might not play this season because of a left-knee injury that has sidelined him since January 2013.
"I think it's going to be a challenge," Brown said of Richardson's putting on a uniform. "But I really don't know. I just feel like he's been out of it for a while, and it's going to be a really difficult task."
But Brown added that the guard has a story to tell and provides an important role in the locker room.
"He and I had spoken about a role I want him to play," the coach said, "a message that he can help me deliver to young players with a culture."
That the Sixers might be in talks to acquire Teague is not a good sign for Ware.
The second-year guard was benched along with Lee, Arnett Moultrie, and K.J. McDaniels against the Pistons. Plus, the Sixers already have point guards in Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten. And if they keep Shved, the third-year veteran out of Russia can play both guard spots.
Post players Davies and Gordon have shown that they deserve to make the squad.
Davies has been a solid role player who has improved his game over the summer. Gordon has been effective in the low post since joining the team on Oct. 7. He headed into the game with a team-best shooting percentage of 64.3.
Gordon had a slightly better shooting performance Thursday, scoring his four points on 2-for-3 shooting. Davies also scored four points on 2-of-6 shooting.
Sampson, a 6-foot-8 undrafted rookie free agent, has impressed the Sixers with his solid defense. However, he would have to play behind Luc Mbah a Moute, Elliot Williams, McDaniels, and Hollis Thompson on the perimeter.
Johnson came into the contest making just 3 of 12 shots in the preseason. The former Boston Celtic was 0 for 6 in his previous two games. But Johnson got the start at shooting guard against the Pistons. Brown said he didn't hurt himself after scoring 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
"Cuts, obviously, are going to have to be made," Brown said. "It's always hard. For some reason, I'm going to find it more difficult this year, because they've done everything that we've asked."
Rookie Nerlens Noel had a game-high five blocked shots and five steals before fouling out with 1.7 seconds left. He had missed the previous three games with an upper respiratory infection.
Henry Sims led the Sixers with 17 points.
Rookie center Joel Embiid is still in Cameroon for Surday's funeral for his younger brother, Arthur, who was killed in a car accident. Mbah a Moute flew to Africa on Wednesday to attend the funeral.