What's Next For Christmas?

There was a theory circulating that, if the 76ers were going to carry a 14th man, Dionte Christmas might fit the bill.

The theory suggested that a 14th guy should have a special skill, and Chrstmas is a good shooter, something the Sixers have lacked in recent seasons.

Nice theory. Didn't work. The Sixers waived Christmas, the undrafted rookie from Temple, and forward Brandon Bowman, leaving them with 13 players. Teams can carry as many as 15 players, with 12 eligible to play in any given game. And the Sixers had already improved their shooting by trading for Jason Kapono and, to some degree, by trading for Rodney Carney.

But if Chrstmas was crushed by the news, he hasn't shown that to Andre Buck, his agent.

''I told his father that Dionte's the best I've ever seen at handling a situation like this, in terms of the process,'' Buck said. "It's tough, because it's not a friendly process; there are always guys out there that teams are looking at. And there are guys who were in the NBA last season that are looking around.

''We're not sure yet about what we're going to do. The 'D' League is an option, and if the right offer were to come from Europe, that would be an option, too. We plan to be patient, to take a few days.

''All the feedback I've gotten says Dionte is more than good enough, but more teams are carrying fewer players, and teams don't always want to carry an (extra) rookie who might not contribute right away. All of those factors come in to play.

''But as I said, he's really handling this well. In that respect, he makes my job easy.''