MIAMI - There hasn't been a whole lot of problems for Brett Brown lately when it comes to substituting during games. Last night against the Miami Heat, Brown had only eight players available, as Furkan Aldemir (plantar fasciitis), Hollis Thompson (upper-respiratory infection) and Tony Wroten (knee sprain) were sidelined. Joel Embiid, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Richardson hold three roster spots, and it doesn't appear as if Embiid or Kirilenko will be joining the roster anytime soon.
Richardson, however, might not be too far away from putting on the uniform again. The 6-6 guard, who was the fifth overall pick in the 2001 draft, hasn't played an NBA game since Jan. 18, 2013, as he underwent major knee surgery. But lately he has been more and more of a presence in the gym, showing the smooth stroke that helped him make 243 three-pointers in 2007-08, sixth most by any player in a single season.
Yesterday, after the team's shootaround, Richardson stayed on the court for another 45 minutes after the team left, running to spots on the floor before launching his beautiful shot. While he hasn't been a full participant in practice yet, it appears that time is coming. While Richardson, who turns 34 next month, woudn't seem to be a fit in the plans laid out by general manager Sam Hinkie, Brown seems as if he'd welcome him into his rotation with open arms.
"He's incredible. His resilience is incredible," said Brown. "He still is our hardest worker, or amongst our hardest workers in the weight room. He was one of the first people here to get shots. He still is on a bus and highly opinionated. He's in the game, yet he hasn't played in a really long time. To have the career that he's had, to have the money that he's made, to be with a rebuilding program and maintain that level of enthusiasm and professionalism, what an amazing example for our young players and a reminder to me of who he is. His days [of playing] are coming sooner rather than later. He looks like he's around the corner. He feels like he ain't done. You're going to have to throw him out of here before somebody tells him he's being forced to retire.
"If Jason can come back and show a glimpse of what he used to be, then, of course [the Sixers will use him]. His value, just from a maturity standpoint, you can't put a price tag on that. All over the place, if he can come back, he'll provide some level of value."
Furkan Aldemir missed his third straight game with plantar fasciitis, while Hollis Thompson was out for his second straight game with an upper-respiratory infection.
Aldemir participated in the team's morning shootaround, but was told afterward he wouldn't be playing. Thompson has pretty much been relegated to his hotel room during this trip, which included a stop in Orlando.
"It is, for sure, better," Aldemir said. "I felt like I could not even walk, but now I feel better. I just did a practice. Maybe I could try to give my best, 100 percent, but I cannot. I think getting more healthy, maybe I will play for the next game [Portland on Friday]. I will feel better and try to be on the court."
The Sixers announced before last night's game that they had signed free-agent forward Malcolm Thomas. The 6-9, 26-year-old played in five games for them earlier this season before being waived after a knee problem developed. He averaged 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in 14.2 minutes. Thomas will join the team when it begins its West Coast trip on Friday starting in Portland. In a related move, the Sixers waived forward Ronny Turiaf.