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Inside the Sixers: Roster turnover not easy to deal with on the court

We are eight weeks into the NBA season. By now we should have a pretty good idea of which teams are lousy and which ones can hoop.

Philadelphia 76ers' coach Brett Brown. (Matt Slocum/AP)
Philadelphia 76ers' coach Brett Brown. (Matt Slocum/AP)Read more

We are eight weeks into the NBA season. By now we should have a pretty good idea of which teams are lousy and which ones can hoop.

What most of us don't think much about is that by this time in the season, teammates have developed a camaraderie similar to that shared with a sibling. Not only do they play and practice together, teammates often hang out during their time away from the court.

So try to imagine what it must be like to practice every morning, lift weights, and watch film with a person you call your brother from another mother. Then, suddenly, he's gone, replaced with a guy who might not last on the team through the end of the week. And it happens again and again and again.

Before long, any chemistry the team established disintegrates. Players, even the core ones, begin walking on egg shells, wondering if they're destined to receive a pink slip.

If it hasn't already, this could soon become the 76ers.

Here's a list, in chronological order, of the franchise's in-season roster moves, in case you've lost track.

The Sixers waived Malcolm Thomas and called up Drew Gordon from the Delaware 87ers, their NBA Development League team, on Nov. 10.

Four days later, they released Chris Johnson and signed free-agent guard Robert Covington from the Grand Rapids Drive of the D-League.

Gordon was waived on Dec. 5 in order to call up Malcolm Lee from the 87ers.

Then, on Thursday the Sixers traded Brandon Davies to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Andrei Kirilenko, Jorge Gutierrez, a 2020 second-round pick, cash considerations, and the right to swap 2018 second-round picks with the Nets. Oh, and the Sixers cut Lee to make room for Gutierrez, whom they released a day later after calling up Ronald Roberts from the 87ers. The team is also expected to release Kirilenko soon.

"There are a lot of moving parts, and there is going to continue to be because it is the nature of our job," coach Brett Brown said. "Stability is not a word that comes to mind very often . . . with the Philadelphia 76ers.

"It's a tremendous challenge to keep the locker room together if the players lose a teammate or a friend."

Brown said it's also a tremendous challenge to keep a semblance of order or purpose on offense and defense when the team loses players.

"It is just such a volatile situation at times," Brown said.

Yet, it's part of the Sixers' rebuilding process.

There were 28 players on last season's roster at one time or another. Six of those players were on 10-day contracts. Two others - Danny Granger and Earl Clark - never played a game.

So far, the Sixers have had 21 players this season. That doesn't include Hasheem Thabeet, Keith Bogans, Marquis Teague, and Travis Outlaw, players the Sixers acquired via trades and released before the start of the season.

"It's tough," Michael Carter-Williams said of coping with all the roster movement. "It's easier when they come for a short period and then go. But it's tough to see a guy that's been here for a year and a half and he has to go.

"So it's tough, but I understand it's a business. But it's still a hard thing to deal with."

It's even harder for players such as Roberts, the 15th man on the roster. They wake up every morning realizing it could be their last on the team.

Yet to stay sane, they choose to ignore their unstable reality.

"I can't really worry about the moves that we are trying to make," Roberts said. "I'm just going to go out and give it my all.

"This is a dream come true. I'm just going to try to cherish the moment."

He and most of his teammates better cherish the moment, because they'll never know when it will end.