Young chosen for Rookie Challenge

Sixers play the Houston Rockets tonight in the second game of this very tough two-game swing. We'll be chatting today at 3:30 p.m. If you have a few minutes, click here: Sixers Chat.

Since the 76ers left Philadelphia, it's been an interesting 48 hours. A few observations, things of note, and potential Live Chat topics:

1.) Elton Brand. If you're a Sixers fan, you've already heard what Chad Ford said yesterday on his ESPN chat. Basically, he said his NBA sources have told him that the Sixers have made Brand available. This isn't earth-shattering news because most NBA players are available -- for the right offer. But one would think if Ford's people are telling him the Sixers have made Brand available, then it seems the Sixers have specifically made Brand available (rather than so-and-so team going to the New Orleans Hornets and offering their entire starting lineup plus nine future first-round picks in exchange for Chris Paul). This leads to two questions: 1.) What could the Sixers actually get for Brand? Or must they be willing to take back an undesirable contract of their own. The truth is that Brand's stock has plummeted since his free-agent signing. And trading him right now would be a clear-cut admission that his signing was a mistake. 2.) Should the Sixers trade Brand? I think it's too early. I think it's too early in his return from the injury. I think -- at the very least -- he needs until the All-Star break to see how he may or may not respond. Everything I've heard leads me to believe that the Sixers will not make a move before the break, which is obviously also around the trade deadline (3 p.m. EST, Feb. 19).

2.) More Brand talk: Let's get back to his actual on-court play. I understand the necessity to get him minutes right now. Obviously, you have to give him an opportunity to find a rhythm and work back from the injury. But Tony DiLeo made it clear they would not sacrifice games to bring him along. Well, at this point, not playing Marreese Speights is a negative impact on this team. Speights played only 3 minutes against the New Orleans Hornets. I understand he's the odd man out in this campaign to reacclimate Brand. But he needs to play at least 12 minutes a game. Okay, so that point wasn't actually "More Brand talk" but rather "More Brand talk plus Marreese Speights."

3.) Tonight's game: This game is really important. Not only is it the last very tough challenge (the Sixers next two games are at home against the Wizards and the Nets) until Feb. 3, but the Sixers have already beaten this team. And that was without Brand. Could we have a clearer picture of his impact? The Sixers beat Houston earlier this month. They outscored them on fast break points 29-9. There are two X factors: This game is in Houston, and the Rockets were missing Ron Artest last game. But if the Rockets were missing Artest and the Sixers were missing Brand, then this should be an even matchup. Also, that New Orleans game on Monday wasn't very good. The Sixers can't take another step backwards. They need to plant their feet tonight.

4.) Thaddeus Young. He was chosen to compete for the sophomore team in the 2009 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge at All-Star weekend.  It looks as if he will be the only Sixer in Phoenix for All-Star weekend. The game is Feb. 13.