The results of Thaddeus Young's MRI have arrived: sprained right ankle and bone bruise. Since the team's release mentions nothing of ligament damage, we must assume there was none. Young had the MRI this morning, the results of which were examined by Dr. Jack McPhilemy. Upon review, McPhilemy said Young is likely to miss two to three weeks.
This diagnosis means, most likely, Young is out for the remainder of the regular season, and, if you take Young through the longer frame of rehab, he could be done for the season. It's a big blow for the Sixers, since Young had been playing at a high level. And it's a blow for Young, his first significant injury of his young career.
These results and timeframes are a little, um, not exact, but we do know that Young is wearing a removable air cast and using crutches -- neither of which is good news, but completely normal for the type of injury he sustained.
The questions, specifically regarding Young, are now: Does it make sense to rush Young back for the playoffs? Would it even be rushing? Is two to three weeks enough rehabilitation time? Or would he be pushing the envelope?
Those are hard questions to answer because the only one who knows the extent and pain of the injury is Young and to some extent the Sixers trainer and doctor. Having watched Thad all season, I'm sure he will push the envelope to be back for this team as soon as he can. And knowing the Sixers, I'm sure they will do what's in Thad's best long-term interest (we saw that with Elton Brand). My feeling is Young will be rehabbing at length for the next two weeks, pressing, seeing if the ankle responds and is ready in time for the playoffs. Heck, he's only 20 years old. If it responds, we might even see him back for that last back-to-back against the Celtics and Cavaliers. But we all know ankle injuries have a mental component, too. Will Young be effective so soon after such a bad sprain? Will he have trouble cutting at full speed? His game is so dependent on that quick first step, his ability to push off explosively and get to the rim. How much this sprain will slow him, even if he returns to the court, is of concern.
This is all speculation. But I think most 76ers fans have come to appreciate the long-term value and talent that Young has shown. And the sentiment would now be to make sure Young maintains his long-term ankle health.
So now we turn to the 76ers: What will they do? Who will start in Young's spot tomorrow night? Will the Sixers sign a player to a 10-day?
Today at Sixers practice, both Tony DiLeo and Ed Stefanski said they are seriously considering signing someone to a 10-day. They both said they would await the results of the MRI and the prognosis, but that the Sixers have a list of viable candidates and would see if the move was needed. Stefanski said, "It would make sense to bring someone in at that spot." And DiLeo said, "We will, if we feel, bring in a 10-day if we think he's going to be out for a while."
Even though Young is vacating the power forward spot, I would think the Sixers would sign more of a small forward type since they have plenty of options at the power forward (Marreese Speights, Reggie Evans, Donyell Marshall). It's the small forward spot, someone to back up Andre Iguodala (which Young was doing) where the Sixers will be lacking. But one answer at a time.
1.) Tomorrow night's starter at power forwad: DiLeo said that in the short term, they would probably play bigger. Which isn't a surprise since unless they were going to slide Iguodala to the four or something crazy, every option other than Young at the power forward is a bigger player. Of whom they would start tomorrow night, DiLeo said, "Basically we know but we don't want to put it out there yet." Okay, that makes sense. But let me cast my vote right now for Speights. Yes, Evans is the older player, the better defender, but you can't take Young's scoring and outside shooting out of the lineup and replace it with Evans. It seems to shutdown that offense. The frontcourt would be Evans and Dalembert. If they start Speights, who is a strong perimeter shooter, they insert an offensive threat into the lineup. Obviously Evans' minutes should, and will, increase, but I think you give the nod to Speights. The upside is great.
2.) So that's tomorrow night. What about the next two weeks? I've been sitting around awaiting Young's MRI results and looking up possible 10-day guys. Now, I don't consider myself an expert on the D-League. And as quickly as I tried to learn all the D-League-to-NBA rules, it's possible I missed one. But here are five D-League guys that the Sixers might be considering. Stefanski said they "had a list" of guys they've scouted this season. Here's mine, done in an afternoon. If I'm missing some blatant rule, be kind. It's my understanding that all D-League guys are free agents unless they were assigned from their NBA team ... like the 76ers did to Louis Williams a couple of seasons ago. By my research, these five guys are free to be signed:
1. Erik Daniels, Erie BayHawks, Sixers and Cavs affiliate in the D-League, 6-foot-8 forward from Kentucky, played 46 games with Erie, averaging 20.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists per game.