Blogs > Deitch on the 76ers

Daily Times staff writer Dennis Deitch covers the 76ers

Monday, January 23, 2012

Centers, anyone? Sixers on the search

The Sixers started the season with more than they originally thought they had a center. Spencer Hawes, by and large a disappointment last season, came out of the gate like a cannon, averaging a double-double through the first eight games. Rookie Nic Vucevic, meanwhile, showed far more polish than anyone could rightfully hope to see from a guy taken 16th overall in a draft not considered terribly deep.

Monday night against the Wizards that depth was long gone. Hawes missed his fifth straight game with Achilles' heel and back problems, while Vucevic was held out after a hyperextension of his leg Saturday night against Miami left him with a tender quad that needs a rest.

The Sixers are doing the "day-to-day" thing with both players. However, it's more likely you'll see Vucevic back on the court this week. According to coach Doug Collins, Vucevic's panicked reaction to the injury Saturday night was a product of the 22-year-old never having experienced a significant injury of any kind in his life. While Vucevic reported that the leg was sore Sunday after the flight back to Philly, at shootaround Monday the USC product thought the leg felt far better.

Hawes is a different story. He has been noticeably out of sight during shootarounds, and Collins said in Miami that the veteran is unable to run using the ball of his foot because of the tendon soreness.

The most ominous sign of Hawes' status is that the Sixers are flying veteran journeyman Francisco Elson to town this week for a workout. Elson, who came to the Sixers with Jodie Meeks in a trade with the Bucks two years ago, played in 62 games last season with Utah, averaging just less than 10 minutes per game.

The problem with bringing in a new face this season is the lack of practice time to groom the newcomer. The Sixers don't have consecutive days off until the All-Star break next month, so they would have to use shootarounds and an occasional non-contact workout to familiarize any newbie with their system and playbook.

So, if Elson or someone else is signed/acquired, take that as a sign that Hawes might be out for a while.

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