Brett Brown said it wasn’t “a punishment” or “a scolding” or "a demotion." According to the Sixers head coach, the decision to send Arnett Moultrie to the NBDL was an attempt “to help professionals be professionals.”
On Tuesday evening, the Sixers announced that Moultrie had been assigned to their D-League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers. Moultrie had surgery on his broken ankle in September and hasn’t played this season.
Brown said that while Moultrie is “coming along,” the second-year forward still has “goals and things he has to meet, standard-wise.”
“A lot of times in coaching, you have things that are just vague,” Brown said before Wednesday’s game against the Celtics at the Wells Fargo Center. “With us there are standards -- exact standards fitness-wise that just haven’t come to be. And he’s going to continue to strive to reach those numbers, and when they happen, we look forward to him playing.”
It’s not the first time Moultrie’s fitness has been questioned. Last season, former head coach Doug Collins was slow to play Moultrie and hinted that he was out of shape. The Sixers subsequently sent Moultrie to the D-League where he appeared in seven games for the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Earlier this week, in an interview with the Delaware County Daily Times, Moultrie insisted that he’s healthy and rejected the out-of-shape narrative. He was assigned to Delaware the following day.
“It’s not my ankle,” Moultrie told the Delaware County Daily Times. “It’s not my conditioning. But at this point, I really don’t care. I’m just sick of all the excuses. If it ain’t one thing, it’s another thing.
“It’s just [baloney].”
Moultrie, who is listed at 6-10, 240 pounds, played in his first game for the 87ers on Tuesday. Brown said Moultrie “moved quite well” and didn’t “treat it like he was going to detention.”
“It was actually planned long before his comments,” Brown said about the timing of sending Moultrie to Delaware. “You see a young player who, competitively, wants to get out on the court. In a twisted way, you applaud that. The bottom line for us is we’ve asked our players to get into career-best fitness. That is one of those non-negotiables. We want him to play well when ultimately he gets on an NBA court. For him to not play for the duration he has, and then just throw him out when it’s not at the career-best fitness that we demand from our program, then we’re not going to do it. It’s really that simple.”
The Sixers selected Moultrie late in the first round of the 2012 draft. In his first year with the team, Moultrie appeared in 47 games and averaged 3.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 11.5 minutes.
How long might Moultrie be with the 87ers?
“As long as it takes for him to reach his fitness standards,” Brown replied.