Sixers holding out hope Kwame Brown can produce

Sixers holding out hope Kwame Brown can produce
January 25, 2013, 5:30 pm
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It wasn’t exactly the most memorable performance of the season, but for what coach Doug Collins and the Sixers needed on Nov. 27 in a game at home against the Dallas Mavericks, center Kwame Brown delivered.

In a little more than 15 minutes of playing time, Brown played solid low-post defense against Chris Kaman, Elton Brand and Shawn Marion. He also grabbed eight rebounds, had a block and a steal and then for the icing on top, Brown went to the foul line four times.

After notching six points to go with his eight boards, Collins thought the much-maligned Brown was finally finding his stride.

“That was why we got him,” Collins said, remembering the game following Friday’s practice session at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

But maybe Collins wasn’t holding his breath after the game against the Mavericks, either. After all, Brown has a long history of showing glimpses of why he was drafted with the No. 1 overall pick by Collins, Michael Jordan and the Washington Wizards in the 2001 draft, and even longer stretches of turning into the Invisible Man.

Since that victory over Dallas, neither Collins nor the Sixers’ fans have seen much of Brown. There was a game against Golden State on Dec. 28 where Brown pulled down seven big rebounds.

Since then, Brown has appeared in just three games for a combined 30 minutes. He also has struggled with a litany of injuries, aches, pains and, perhaps most importantly, motivation. Brown left the team briefly two weeks ago to tend to “personal issues.” When he returned to the team he missed another practice with more “personal issues” and then was scratched from a game with a sinus infection.

Brown had a calf injury before training camp that has been tweaked here or there and kept him on the sidelines, but it doesn’t sound as if the injury were such that it would cost the 12-year veteran more than a day or two of rest.

Instead, Brown has appeared in just 19 games for a career-low average of 12.9 minutes per game.

When the Sixers signed Brown to a one-year deal plus a one-year player option in July, it was done with the intent on making the veteran the team’s starting center.

By all accounts, Brown was excited to get an opportunity with the Sixers. But that was before the team traded Andre Iguodala, Nik Vucevic, Maurice Harkless and draft picks to get Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson. With Bynum coming aboard, Collins and Brown admitted that the center was a bit taken aback about his role on the team.

A team source said when the Sixers got Bynum, Brown checked out mentally.

Perhaps the byproduct of the lost mental game has been a player who has struggled physically, as well.

The Sixers could use a few minutes of productive basketball from Brown. With him a non-factor, Collins has been forced to use Lavoy Allen as a starter despite the fact that the second-year player from Temple is fighting a bit of a slump lately.

That’s actually putting it mildly because in his last 12 games, Allen has attempted just four total foul shots and averaged 5.4 rebounds, numbers not befitting a starter. But since Allen doesn’t have to look over his shoulder to see Collins giving him the hook in favor of Brown, Allen isn’t too worried about losing playing time.

All is not lost though. Unless the Sixers find a trade partner or come to an agreement on a buyout, Brown will pick up the option on his second year with the Sixers. And so with more time with Collins and the Sixers, Brown likely would summon up some pride and attempt to provide some productive basketball.

At least that’s the hope that Collins has for Brown over the second half of the season. After all, with Bynum gearing up for a return to the court, the Sixers still view Brown as a nice complementary piece in the low post where defense — and nothing else — can be his calling card.

Truth is, that’s all Collins wants.

“I’ll take that every night — eight rebounds, that kind of production, that kind of post defense,” Collins said after the game against Dallas. "I’d appreciate you guys keep selling that’s who he is. That would help me with the fans a little bit and help him.”

How about this ... since Brown’s big night against Dallas followed by a victory in Charlotte on Nov. 30, the Sixers have not won back-to-back games.