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Ball Don't Lie

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown talks about working with ‘six NBA players’ and ‘after that, who knows?’

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Brett Brown watches, and judges. (Getty Images)

On Tuesday we wondered aloud just why, exactly, the Philadelphia 76ers were letting center Kwame Brown loiter around their team, even with top pick Nerlens Noel possibly out for the entire season due to an ACL tear.

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On Wednesday, we’ve discovered the reason. It appears as if the Sixers are only currently fielding about 40 percent of an NBA roster. At least according to rookie coach Brett Brown. He discussed the team’s shortcomings and a possible clerical error in a talk with Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Pro Basketball Talk):

The first thing is that Michael Carter-Williams, James Anderson, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, and Spencer Hawes are the clear starters. The second thing is that power forward/center Lavoy Allen is an experienced NBA player who is finding his way back into shape.

"And after that, who knows?" Sixers coach Brett Brown said before Monday's 104-93 setback to Cleveland in Columbus, Ohio. "You have six NBA players and then you have a bunch of guys who are fighting for spots and want to be seen and need opportunity."

The former San Antonio Spurs assistant is not including injured players - rookie Nerlens Noel (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and veterans Jason Richardson (knee), Kwame Brown (hamstring), and Arnett Moultrie (ankle). All have guaranteed contracts and are expected make the 15-man roster.

Before the press is accused of leading Brown on, understand that the key quote is “you have six NBA players and then you have a bunch of guys who are fighting for spots.” Presumably those “bunch of guys” are not NBA players, at least in Brown’s eyes.

It’s hard to disagree with the guy, even if we have hopes for backup point guard Tony Wroten as a buckets guy off the bench (Royce White and Arnett Moultrie also have guaranteed deals). I probably would have found a more delicate way to put things, because just as long as the other players fighting for spots draw a paycheck and sport the official Sixers outfit, they are technical “NBA players.”

[Related: Philadelphia media wondering why Kwame Brown is still with the 76ers]

And, more importantly, you don’t want those lower-rung roster invitees thinking of themselves as “lower-rung roster invitees.” Or, worse, not thinking of themselves as NBA players, whether they take that as a shot to their game, or an invitation to be unprofessional.

Brown knows the Sixers’ situation. He took the job understanding that the playoffs were never an option this season, so it isn’t as if he’s relying on the second half of his rotation to do great things, or overachieve. It’s true that someone like Daniel Orton (who has disappointed since leaving Kentucky after his freshman season) could use a kick in the tail, but by and large these 76ers bench guys are hard workers who (if the exhibition season is any indication) appear to be working those tails off. Wondering about the non-NBA players on your roster? That’s probably not going to be the inspiration they need to turn the corner.

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe it’s preseason giddiness that is leaving Brown to think great things about the rest of his roster, and he think these sorts of public musings could turn things around. Or perhaps, as was the case when he just about put the kibosh on Nerlens Noel’s season before somewhat retracting things, the rookie coach has to watch how he parses his words.

Even if he’s probably right.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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