Evan Turner 'excited' for looming trade deadline

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Evan Turner 'excited' for looming trade deadline

Many trade deadlines have come and gone with nothing happening for the Sixers. With Thursday’s deadline looming, there is speculation that a player or players will be dealt.

Evan Turner thinks that might be the case, and he is looking forward to teams finally showing their hand.

“I am excited to see what’s going to happen because it is like a riddle,” Turner said. “Whatever happens, happens.”

When this season began, Turner, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young were all thought to be trade bait. They were building blocks for the former management group. They were not hand-picked by first-year president and general manager, Sam Hinkie.

But with three days left before the deadline, all three are still wearing Sixers uniforms.

Brett Brown’s feeling about the deadline is that it is a valid concern, but he hopes it is not a thought that monopolizes any of his players' minds.

"When I got this job, speculation and rumors were all around from Day 1,” Brown said. “Nothing changes. We are trying to help these guys get better. We are trying to put them in situations where they can play good basketball.

“I want them to improve. I hope they are enjoying their time with the Sixers. I hope they feel like they have a coaching staff digging in for them, because we are. That is how we have handled it from Day One and that is how we will navigate through this time of year.”

It is no secret the Sixers are not interested in taking on big contracts. They are interested in draft picks.

Young has two years left on his deal with 2015-16 being a player option at $9.7 million. Hawes becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season, and Turner will be a restricted free agent so long as the Sixers make him a qualifying offer.

All three veterans have value. The unknown is what teams are willing to give up to get any one of the three.

Turner, now in his fourth NBA season, understands that talk increases as the deadline nears. Whether there's any truth to the talk is a whole different story.

“I was never worried about it,” Turner said. “There is no relief. At the end of the day, so much has been said and there are too many rumors really to concern yourself with.”

Turner insists that he doesn’t read papers or blogs, but in the next breath, he is saying his words often get twisted. The likely truth is he reads or hears what people are saying about him. He's just learned to put little stock in those words.

“It is not for me to read,” Turner said. “I comment on stuff and then I hear how it gets twisted. It is not really about what I say, it’s about what people want the headlines to say.”

Ben Simmons healing on schedule; Joel Embiid out tonight; Jahlil Okafor downgraded

Ben Simmons healing on schedule; Joel Embiid out tonight; Jahlil Okafor downgraded

Ben Simmons had a planned foot scan Monday in New York and is progressing as expected.

Simmons suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot nearly four months ago, Sept. 30, and there is still no timetable for his NBA debut.

Okafor downgraded
Jahlil Okafor was limited at shootaround Tuesday and has been downgraded to questionable for tonight's game against the Clippers. He had been listed as probable on Monday.

Okafor is dealing with right knee soreness he experienced on Saturday. The Sixers kept an eye on him Monday and held him out of 5-on-5 drills in practice. Okafor said the team was being cautious, and he wanted to rest his knee given the number of games coming up.

"It was bothering me a little bit in the warmup lines, I started to feel it. When I got going, it started feeling really good, then when I sat out for an extended period, it got kind of sore on me again," Okafor said Monday.

Embiid out
Joel Embiid, dealing with a left knee contusion suffered in last Friday's win over Portland, is officially out tonight. He is also expected to miss Wednesday's game at Milwaukee before returning Friday vs. the Rockets.

Sixers-Clippers 5 things: Big men, minus Joel Embiid, in the spotlight

Sixers-Clippers 5 things: Big men, minus Joel Embiid, in the spotlight

The Sixers (15-27) on Tuesday night open their latest back-to-back set against the LA Clippers (30-16) at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and streaming live on the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Missing in action
The Sixers are used to missing Joel Embiid for at least one game of back-to-back sets. However, they will have to forge ahead without him in both contests coming up on consecutive days.

Embiid will miss the Sixers' games on Tuesday and Wednesday after suffering a left knee contusion in the team's 93-92 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday. The matchups will mark three straight absences for the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after he was sidelined for the Sixers' blowout loss in Atlanta Saturday.

The Sixers haven't exactly been able to survive without Embiid's production this season. They are 2-10 minus the Rookie of the Year frontrunner and have allowed 106.5 points in those games.

Brett Brown challenged his team to perform better — particularly on defense — during this upcoming stint without Embiid.

“It’s still about our defense, it’s still about running, it’s still about sharing the ball,” Brown said after practice Monday. “I think you go with Jahlil (Okafor) and Nerlens (Noel) and challenge them in relation to rim protection and what Joel provides us. The group around them also has got to perform at a higher level when you don’t have Joel. I think that second group that we have been playing, led by Nerlens, really can take on a far greater defensive identity than it has recently, and Nerlens will be the captain of that.”

2. The Blake Show is back
While the Sixers will be without their star big man in Tuesday's tilt, the Clippers are expected to get one of theirs back.

Blake Griffin is likely to return to action against the Sixers after missing 18 games following right knee surgery.

Griffin was averaging 21.2 points and 8.8 rebounds this season as the Clippers jumped out to a 20-6 record. Griffin underwent an arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies from the knee on Dec. 19, and the Clips have recorded just a 10-8 mark since.

With fellow superstar Chris Paul sidelined with an injured thumb, getting the five-time All-Star Griffin back should be a major boost for the Clippers.

3. Take care
The Clippers may not be the force they once were in the open court (15th in the NBA with 12.7 fastbreak points per game this season), but that doesn't mean they still can't revert to their Lob City ways in the blink of an eye.

That could be the case on Tuesday if the Sixers continue to turn the ball over at such an alarming rate.

The Sixers, last in the league with 17.1 turnovers per game, have somehow been even worse during this recent string of success. They have committed 19.4 turnovers a night over the last five games and 17.8 during the last 10 contests.

The Sixers have been able to survive thanks to their active defense creating opportunities on offense and some clutch shooting. However, with Embiid sidelined and facing a Clippers team that ranks in the top five in field-goal and three-point percentage, those miscues may come back to haunt the Sixers.

4. Injuries
Okafor (knee) is probable. Embiid (knee), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Griffin (knee) is probable. Paul (thumb) and Brice Johnson (back) are out for the Clippers.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost nine straight games to the Clippers.

• Ersan Ilyasova is averaging 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game during January.

• DeAndre Jordan has averaged a double-double of 11.3 points and 12.8 rebounds against the Sixers in his career.