Losing season starting to wear on Sixers

Posted: February 06, 2014

THROUGHOUT THIS expected disaster of a season, 76ers coach Brett Brown has been nothing but blatantly honest. It is the only way he knows how to be.

He blurted out that Nerlens Noel would probably sit out the season before some in the organization wanted it said. He has been candid about his team's lack of desire to play defense, about his needed improvement in teaching his players, about how prized rookie Michael Carter-Williams needs to toughen up mentally and physically in order to become an upper-echelon player in the league.

All the while he has talked about what a special group he has, one that is going through a season of little reward but that shows up for work ready to do whatever is asked.

Well, now there seem to be some cracks in the foundation.

There is trade talk swirling about the team, with Evan Turner being the main subject. A source close to the situation told the Daily News that there is nothing imminent. The Sixers will listen to any and all offers and probably have made more than a few inquiries themselves.

Carter-Williams was away from the team all day Sunday and part of Monday due to a personal matter. All is probably well, but when lumped with a shoulder injury that kept him out of Saturday's loss in Detroit, it was, at least, eyebrow-raising. Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young and Turner are showing the wear of yet another losing season. And before Monday's loss in Brooklyn, forward Arnett Moultrie griped about not being back in uniform yet after preseason ankle surgery.

Last night, the Sixers announced that Moultrie and guard Lorenzo Brown had been sent down to the Delaware 87ers, their NBA Development League affiliate.

For the past couple of weeks Moultrie has been practicing with the team after getting clearance from doctors. But when it comes to games, he's still sitting on the bench in street clothes. When asked Monday when he expected to be back and what was preventing him from suiting up, he surly responded: "It's not my ankle. It's not my conditioning. But at this point I really don't care. I'm just sick of all the excuses. If it ain't one thing, it's another thing." Then when asked what it could be, Moultrie said: "I'd rather not say."

Brett Brown has been asked over the past couple of weeks about when Moultrie might return. The coach has said that it was conditioning, but that Moultrie was doing everything that was asked. So something seems awry.

When you've won just 15 times in 49 games, nerves are frayed, patience is laughable and words start to spew. It's not unexpected, really, and maybe it's a good sign.

With a roster filled with borderline NBA players - with the obvious exceptions - people who are on the bubble could make the decision easier for the Sixers as to who they may or may not want to bring back next season.

If a choice came down to Hollis Thompson or Elliot Williams, guys who play hard no matter the situation, or someone such as Moultrie who doesn't seem to embrace the work ethic demanded by Brown, the decision would be easy. Moultrie has had the misfortune of battling injuries his first two seasons, but he has been plagued by a questionable work ethic since being drafted.

It's not going to get better any time soon for the Sixers, who who Boston tonight, the Lakers on Friday then head out west to face the Clippers, Golden State and Utah.

That's when things may get better as the players and coaches disperse for the All-Star break and get some time away from the mess that this season has become.

Then it will be a 28-game push to the end of the season and the start of what certainly will be an active offseason.

To many, it probably can't come soon enough.

On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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