There are some questions about the players currently on the 76ers roster that coach Brett Brown cannot answer. In the case of Danny Granger, for instance, one of the players acquired last week during Sam Hinkie's quest to corner the world market on second-round draft picks, Brown couldn't say for sure whether Granger would ever play for the team.
"We're just trying to sort out what's best for both parties," Brown said.
In this very strange season, that's not an easy one. On one hand, Granger would make it a better team. On the other hand, getting better this season isn't really the goal. On one hand, Granger could provide some veteran stability to the locker room. On the other hand, he apparently would rather stick sharp objects in his eyes than be part of this exciting process.
"He's assessing his goals at this stage of his career," Brown said.
In all probability, the Sixers are trying to find another team willing to pick up a hefty portion of Granger's buyout, so they can make him a free agent and, as Buddy Ryan used to say, "Allow him to get on with his life's work elsewhere." If Hinkie could find a way to get a second-round pick out of it, that would be great, too, but the NBA frowns on teams' making trades after the trade deadline, so the eventual relocation of Danny Granger will be entirely cash-and-carry.
It's all very interesting in an uninteresting kind of way, and only because there is not much else to talk about, which includes the proceedings Monday night in the Wells Fargo Center when the Sixers and Milwaukee Bucks continued their inspiring race for the worst record in the NBA.
The Sixers had 11 eligible players for the game and, at least from Brown's perspective, he was able to answer one very important question about the roster.
"I can name them all," Brown said.
Good for him, and before the first quarter was over, he had called Eric Maynor, Byron Mullens, and Henry Sims by name, sending them into the fray for their first game in Sixers uniforms. They might not have been excited to be here necessarily, but they were happy to be somewhere. That's more than Earl Clark can say. Clark was acquired in the Spencer Hawes trade with the Cavaliers and was waived before he got to the Cleveland airport.
That's what we have here, a halfway house for the wayward and woebegone, a bunch of guys hoping this exposure could place them on an actual NBA team eventually. That and Michael Carter-Williams, who seems happy enough with things, and Thaddeus Young, who is doing a professional job of keeping his true thoughts to himself. Young, the last remaining member of a team that came within one game of the Eastern Conference finals (22 months ago!), might get his parole after the season when Hinkie fires up the draft-day wheel of fortune.
For now, however, the program rolls on, and at least the coach knows the names of the guys.
"It's part of the landscape of coaching the Philadelphia 76ers in the year 2014. I like it, in a sadistic way," Brown said.
There wasn't much to like Monday, except the perverse pleasure of noting that, although the standings don't agree yet, the Sixers are indeed the worst team in the NBA. Jettisoning Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, and Lavoy Allen put them over the top, or under the top, or whatever preposition you prefer. The Bucks still have four fewer wins, and it will be a race, but the Sixers have done all they can to optimize the chance of getting the top pick in the coming draft.
Hinkie's work is pretty much done for the rest of the season, in other words. He can sit amid his second-round picks like Smaug dozing contentedly on his treasure and wait for the happy day when he can package them and trade them and move up and down the draft board on a pogo stick. Hey, it might all work.
In the meantime, however, Brown has the task of motivating and coaching the worst team in the NBA, a team so raw and skimpily talented that, if Young were removed, it might not be the best team in the D-League. Let's put it this way: It wouldn't be undefeated there.
Against the Bucks, the Sixers, who have not been dedicated to defense this season, were abysmal at it. Milwaukee - a team that came in with a 10-45 record, remember - set new season highs for points in a quarter (43), points in a half (73), and points in a game (130). That, for a team that averaged 92.6 points per game, second lowest in the league, and previously had two games in which it scored fewer total points than it did in the first half against the Sixers.
It's difficult to say whether the Sixers aren't good at defense or simply see no reason to be. Either way, the result is the same, and will remain the same. Which, just to review, is the whole idea.
"I thought the energy tonight was extraordinarily poor," Brown said after the 130-110 loss. Asked whether the roster upheaval had something to do with that, he said, "Most definitely."
Twenty-five more games of this. At least when Danny Granger didn't show up, he had the courtesy to not be in the building.