Arnett Moultrie situation a message to Sixers

Arnett Moultrie situation a message to Sixers
February 6, 2014, 1:00 pm

Arnett Moultrie has yet to see the floor for the Sixers this season and has been sent to the D-League to get in shape. (USA Today Images)

Someone asked about one Brown. The question made a different Brown smile.

The Sixers recalled Lorenzo Brown from the Delaware 87ers the other night. It was Brown’s fifth D-League assignment. Probably. It’s hard to keep track. The only way to know for sure is to check his E-Z Pass statement. That’s how many times he’s made the trip to Delaware and back.

So how has he handled it?

“I told our team, if you see like a stick with a towel and some clothes wrapped around it, that’s his luggage,” Brett Brown joked. “He goes up and back and up and back and up and back. And he’s fantastic. He’s thrilled to be in the NBA and grateful to be in this program.”

That’s one way to deal with a tough situation. Another way would be to complain to a local paper. That’s what Arnett Moultrie did on Monday. Moultrie, who had surgery on his ankle in September, hasn’t played this season. That clearly bothers him.

“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 was sent to the D-League the day after those remarks. Brown said the timing of the assignment was coincidental and “planned long before [Moultrie’s] comments.”

“You see a young player who, competitively, wants to get out on the court,” Brown said. “In a twisted way, you applaud that.”

But…

“The bottom line for us is, we’ve asked our players to get into career-best fitness,” Brown continued.

Moultrie – who is listed at 6-10, 240 pounds – is supposedly not in career-best fitness. According to Brown, that’s “one of those non-negotiables.” And so off Moultrie went to Delaware, where Brown said Moultrie will remain “for as long as it takes” to get in shape.

Brown insisted the move wasn’t intended to punish or scold Moultrie. But Brown has also talked a lot this season about “building a program.” Put the timing of the assignment aside. Forget about the initial intention, too. What’s important here is the subsequent message it sent to Moultrie and the rest of the Sixers about what building a program means and the consequences of failing to fall in line.

Sending a message – whether intentional or a happy and accidental byproduct – isn’t something unique to these Sixers. Andy Reid did it with the Eagles in his first year when he made poor George Hegamin push the blocking sled after practice. Charlie Manuel benched Jimmy Rollins a few times for various infractions. And Doug Collins tried it on several occasions with several players, among them Nikola Vucevic, Kwame Brown and Nick Young. Oh, and some guy named Moultrie.

A year ago, Collins had similar questions about Moultrie's fitness before bundling him off to the D-Legaue to play seven games for the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Even if Moultrie didn’t get the message – or flat-out rejected the intended communication – it was still sent. It happens. Teams and coaches send messages so often they ought to have special UPS rates.

“Everybody gets such a kick out of how people view it – like it’s a demotion or a slap in the face,” Brown said about Moultrie’s current situation. “It’s part of basketball. You get an opportunity to play. Go down there and run around and shoot 30 times and get 30 minutes.”

He made it sound pretty great, as though Delaware is a super fun place that everyone should visit. If you’ve driven through Delaware, you might have your doubts.

“It’s just a combination of a standard this club is adhering to and the fact that we have a fantastic opportunity development-wise 30 minutes down the road,” Brown added. “How fortunate are we to have an NBDL team 30 minutes down the road?"

Moultrie might not think the opportunity is quite so fantastic. He might also disagree with the idea of proximity as fortune. But how Moultrie feels about his predicament won’t change things for the forward. Neither will the fact that he’s a former (albeit late) first-round pick. None of it matters. All that matters now is that he was shipped off to Delaware, home of tax-free shopping and minor-league hoops.

Perhaps Moultrie will send the Sixers a postcard from Delaware. One more message to add to the mix.