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Sixers’ rotation uncertainty will be a bumpy road for a while

Roles for new additions Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala have not been defined, and there is still some experimentation on the horizon.

Sixers forward Wilson Chandler (right), who missed the start of the season due to a hamstring injury, made his debut Saturday against Detroit.
Sixers forward Wilson Chandler (right), who missed the start of the season due to a hamstring injury, made his debut Saturday against Detroit.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

With the Sixers ever-growing rotation issues becoming more muddled and murky, the team is on track to trudge through a swamp of struggles for a bit longer this season.

During the preseason, Brett Brown noted that integrating new additions Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala along with shifting his rotations and substitutions would be a different situation than it was last season when two new players were added to the fray.

Marco Belinelli made his debut with the Sixers on Feb. 14 of last season, scoring 17 points. Two games later Ersan Ilyasova was brought to the roster. The two new members of the team seemed to fit in seamlessly. Even with the mid-season additions, the Sixers went 7-5 before finishing the season on a 16-game win streak.

"Because they had defined roles," Brown said of why Belinelli and Ilyasova's transition had worked so well.

This season is different. Chandler and Muscala do not have perfectly defined roles.

Chandler, a small forward who has played at the three spot most of his career, will eventually get the majority of his minutes backing up Robert Covington, but Brown has said that as Chandler grows with the team, he would like to see him play some minutes at the four.

That's been a delayed growth period because Chandler missed the start of the season with a hamstring injury, just returning on Saturday. He did not play on Sunday since it was a back-to-back game and he is on a minutes restriction.

Nearly the same can be said for Muscala, who missed the first three games of the season because of a lingering ankle sprain. Muscala is also a switchable player who can move between playing power forward and center.

Following the team's home win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, Brown was asked about a smaller lineup that that he had tried out.

"Usually it's done more out of a reactive mode, for foul trouble or you're losing and you've got to just change the game," Brown said. "I think going forward it does interest me as a proactive type of lineup instead of a reactive adjustment to a game that's not going your way."

"Going forward." That means lineup tinkering and experimenting for the Sixers is no where near finished when it comes to how Brown plans on using his new players, and that doesn't even include the Markelle Fultz experiment.

Shifting JJ Redick into a bench role so that Fultz can get experience with the starting unit has been unsuccessful in terms of production and fit. It's a well documented problem for the team this season.

Brown has said that there is no timetable for how long Fultz will remain in the starting position or if he plans on shifting away from that and bringing Fultz in off the bench. That change and uncertainty has added another wrinkle to the Sixers' continuity problems.

New faces, lineup changes, undefined roles, and no light at the end of the tunnel. These are the growing pains that the Sixers face and it will take a while for them to be ironed out.

There was no doubt that the Sixers would look different coming into the 2018-19 season and there was surely going to be some bumps along the way. But with some uncertainty still lingering, the Sixers are most likely going to be swimming through murky water for a while.