Sixers have tall order to fill

ASSOCIATED PRESS Thaddeus Young warms up before the Sixers' game yesterday against Bilbao Basket in Spain.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Thaddeus Young warms up before the Sixers' game yesterday against Bilbao Basket in Spain.
Posted: October 08, 2013

CALLING ALL big men. Calling all big men.

Don't be surprised if that is the email being sent throughout the league by the 76ers from over in Europe.

The team departed for Spain on Thursday with a roster short on healthy frontcourt players. To replay, Nerlens Noel (knee), Kwame Brown (hamstring) and Arnett Moultrie (knee) are all most likely out for a very long time. Spencer Hawes tweaked a knee last week in training camp and was sidelined for just about 3 days, though he did play in yesterday's win over host Bilbao, Spain, in the team's first preseason game. Forward Royce White got a pass from the team on making the trip. White suffers from anxiety disorder and often has issues with getting on a plane.

Just when it seemed the problems couldn't be complicated any further, Lavoy Allen was sidelined for the preseason opener due to continuous pain in his left knee. Allen missed the first couple of days in training camp as he was resting his ailing knee. He said he twisted the knee in a workout in late July and wasn't able to get back on the court at all until the third day of training camp. That was more than 2 months without a ball in his hands or his prone-to-get-out-of-shape body on the floor.

To try to shore up their thin front line, the Sixers signed forward Gani Lawal on Friday. The 6-9 Georgia Tech product was taken 46th overall in the 2010 draft by the Phoenix Suns after averaging 13.1 points and 8.5 rebounds his junior season, down from 15.1 and 9.5 his sophomore year. He has ties to Sixers coach Brett Brown as he was signed to a 10-day contract in 2011 by the San Antonio Spurs, where Brown was an assistant, but he didn't get in a game and was waived after that contract.

He would appear to most likely spend most of the season with the Delaware 87ers, the Sixers' NBA Development League team. But with the cupboard so bare, who knows?

Game stuff

Spencer Hawes hit two foul shots with 4.8 seconds remaining to give the Sixers a 106-104 win over Bilboa Basket in their preseason opener.

Evan Turner finished with a team-high 25 points, while guard Tony Wroten added 16 points off the bench and James Anderson (6-for-8 from the floor) scored 15. Thaddeus Young added 14 points, six rebounds and five steals (along with six fouls and five turnovers) and Darius Morris contributed 12 points off the bench for the Sixers, who traveled immediately after the game to Manchester, England, where they'll play the Oklahoma City Thunder tomorrow.

The Sixers collected 23 steals against the Euro League team, but also turned the ball over 26 times. Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams scored only three points and made just one of his five field goal attempts, but did collect six assists and three steals without turning the ball over.

"So far the trip is going well," Carter-Williams said via phone before the team boarded its flight to Manchester. "It was great to be out on the court, just being out there with the guys and competing was fun and we all had a great time. I'm really starting to get comfortable and my teammates are starting to trust me with the plays and what to run and how to do it. I just want to stay aggressive and run the offense well and continue to play tough defense. I thought my ball pressure was good and I was able to get some steals."

As much as the on-court experience is welcomed and needed by the rookie, the getting to know one another is just as valuable.

"We've all hung out with each other, talking about basketball and other things," Carter-Williams said. "We went to museums together, did some sightseeing. It is a great bonding opportunity. You can't beat that."

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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