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News » Brand may sit as part of Sixers' lineup shuffle

Brand may sit as part of Sixers' lineup shuffle

Brand may sit as part of Sixers' lineup shuffle Marreese Speights is the one with the partially torn knee ligament, but it looks as if 76ers coach Eddie Jordan will do the tweaking, possibly to his starting lineup.

When reporters were permitted to watch the Sixers' practice yesterday at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, power forward Elton Brand was working with the second unit even as Speights walked the sideline, a brace supporting the partly torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

Seeing Brand in a white practice jersey instead of first-team blue certainly raised eyebrows, but it did not necessarily guarantee that Jordan intended to change his starting lineup.

But Jordan's and Brand's words afterward certainly pushed one closer to that conclusion.

Asked about Brand's sporting second-team white, Jordan said he had him playing center with the second unit. Asked if that might indicate an impending switch in the starting lineup, Jordan said, "Um." He paused and smiled.

"Who knows?" he said. "Nothing is going to change until [tomorrow], if there is a change."

The Sixers play the Charlotte Bobcats at the Wachovia Center tomorrow night.

As for Brand's replacement in the lineup - if the change takes effect - there is no definite conclusion. Reserve power forward Jason Smith could replace Brand with the rest of the lineup staying intact, or Jordan could push small forward Thaddeus Young to power forward and slide Rodney Carney, who ran with the first team yesterday, into Young's spot.

Brand seemed prepared for the possible change.

Jordan "was talking about me working with the second group, getting some more center touches and stuff like that rather than playing with the fast-paced tempo of the first group," Brand said. "So definitely something is going to happen."

Does that mean simply working with the second unit for additional minutes in the rotation?

"No, we're going to see," Brand said. "It might be first quarter, too. Whatever it is, we need to win."

The Sixers are 4-6, with all but one win coming against the New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks, whose combined record is 1-19.

Brand has averaged 27.1 minutes (the lowest average in his career), 9.8 points, and 5.3 rebounds per game in those 10 contests. The 30-year-old missed most of the last two seasons because of injuries and has sat out the entire fourth quarter of most games this season.

Asked if he thought Brand was a 40-minute-a-night guy, as he was when the Sixers signed him to a five-year, $80 million contract in July 2008, Jordan said, quite simply, "No."

"You can put him out there for 40 minutes . . . I know he won't be effective in those minutes because it's a process with his recovery," Jordan said. "I would put him in the game if I knew he was high-level in the fourth quarter, but it's just not there."

Changes in the rotation were expected a day after an MRI exam showed the extent of the injury to Speights, the team's top reserve and its fourth-leading scorer at 13.0 points per game. He is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Speights was hurt playing defense Saturday in the fourth quarter of a 94-88 loss in Chicago.

"We aren't going to rush it," the second-year player said. "Get a lot of treatment and stuff, and, hopefully, it will come out good. . . . I felt it pop when I fell. I was like, 'Damn.' I got up and tried to run, and I couldn't run, so I told Coach to get me out."

Speights said he would take a week off, then begin strength training.

The 6-foot-9 Brand is expected to see increased minutes at the center spot, as will Smith.

"Probably get a little bit more playing time," Smith said. "Until Marreese gets back to healthy, it'll probably be 15- to 20-minute nights, just have to go in and give great energy off the bench."

Jordan said Smith was a better defender than Speights.

"That's why I like to play guys early in the season, so they can play, and they have a feel for playing with their teammates," Jordan said. "Jason Smith has his legs under him, and he feels comfortable with different lineups."

Smith, coming off a torn knee ligament last season, has appeared in seven games, averaging 4.0 points.

"You have to make it up at the defensive end," said Jordan of replacing Speights. "And we know Jason is a very good defender. Hopefully, Thad defends and rebounds better, and Elton can defend [centers] and Jason can defend [centers]. And Samuel [Dalembert] may play more minutes because he's been terrific defensively for us. So that's how you make it up, you can't make up his scoring."

Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or kfagan@phillynews.com.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 17, 2009


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