Moyer indicated that Barkley, who missed the third quarter of Monday's 127-122 overtime loss to Charlotte, was experiencing a flare-up of vertabrae inflammation he first experienced during his career at Auburn (1981-82 to '83-84).
The current stress might have been triggered by Barkley's weight, which is believed to have ballooned to more than 280 pounds during the summer. That situation, in turn, might have been exacerbated by a crash weight-loss program and training regimen to prepare the 6-4 3/4 forward for the NBA season.
Extended rest would be an obvious solution to Barkley's current condition, but that's a luxury for which the schedule doesn't allow. The Sixers will travel to Boston Thursday afternoon, play there Friday night, then play again Saturday night against Washington in Landover, Md.
"I'm going to take it easy, keep taking my medication and, hopefully, everything will be OK," Barkley said during an appearance on WIP AllSports Radio.
Again, brace yourself.
"I've made up my mind, if I can't help the team I'm not going to play," Barkley said. "If I can't help the team, I'm not going to play anymore until I'm ready."
Moyer and general manager John Nash have said the decision rests with Barkley, based on his ability to tolerate pain.
"I'll be honest, I wasn't as concerned about this as I might have been,
because it's something we've been through before," Nash said.
Backup guard Gerald Henderson, in fact, said he has fully expected all along that Barkley would be available.
"No doubt in my mind," Henderson said. "I know how he bounces back."
When Barkley is healthy and ready, he's as effective and versatile a force as there is in the league, ranking second in rebounding and field goal percentage and sixth in scoring. He has produced double-doubles (10 or more points and rebounds) in 28 of the team's 36 games, has scored 22 points or more in 12 of the last 13 and 21 or more in 28 of the last 30.
But he clearly wasn't ready Monday, despite managing 16 points and 11 rebounds in 34 minutes in what became the end of the team's five-game winning streak. He said he might have aggravated his back in a Dec. 27 loss to Golden State in Oakland, and that he "should not have gone back in" Monday.
"I'm very stiff, very sore," he said, although he has a full range of motion.
Sixers coach Jim Lynam is ready with Plan B, if necessary. That would involve using rookie Shelton Jones and veteran Ben Coleman as his starting forwards tonight, keeping Ron Anderson in the substitution rotation. But it wasn't the only medical bulletin Lynam was dealing with, either.
Lynam revealed after practice that guard David Wingate had been unavailable for the last two games, despite being in uniform, because of tendinitis in his left knee. Wingate did not practice yesterday, but could be available tonight.
And Jones, on his second 10-day contract and a starter the last three games, yesterday visited Dr. Jack Jeffers, the team ophthamologist. Jones underwent surgery two summers ago to repair a detached retina, and the Sixers - before making any longer term plans involving him - wanted an update.
Jones's contract expires Jan. 24, at which point league rules dictate that the Sixers would have to release him or sign him for the remainder of the season.
"I'm not looking at this as a 10-day situation," Jones said. "In fact, I forget that it is unless somebody else brings it up. I just feel comfortable. The guys here make you feel comfortable."
The Julius Erving statue, honoring the retired Sixers' forward, will be set in place and formally dedicated at 2 p.m. today on the Pattison Avenue side of the Spectrum. "The sports complex houses other statues honoring key people in the city's athletic history, and it's only fitting that a statue of Julius symbolizes Philadelphia basketball," John Nash said.