Thad Young ponders future after loss to Grizzlies

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Thad Young ponders future after loss to Grizzlies

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MEMPHIS -- Sixers forward Thaddeus Young watched with his hands on his hips as teammate Tony Wroten flew by him and attempted a 39-foot prayer as the third-quarter horn sounded.

By that time, the Sixers trailed the Memphis Grizzlies by 23 points -- a mountain the Sixers weren't going to climb -- and Young retreated back to the huddle, shaking his head with the team on its way to a 117-95 road loss Friday night at FedExForum (see Instant Replay).

It was the Sixers' third straight loss and fifth in its last six games since snapping its NBA record-tying 26-game losing streak.

And with three games left in the regular season, they could be Young's last as a Sixer.

"Yeah, all the time," Young said before the game when asked about his future. "One thing I've always said: Just like upstairs, they put their GM hats on. I put mine on also. It's not just about basketball. It's about me as a player. This is a business, and it's about doing what's best for my family. It may be here, or it may not be here."

The losing -- the Sixers fell to 17-62 Friday -- has admittedly taken a toll on Young, who at 25 years old and in his sixth season, has become one of the "elder statesmen" on a team with 10 players with no more than one year of experience in the league.

Young has two more years on his contract with the Sixers, but he can opt out after next season.

"It's been very, very difficult," said Young, one of three Sixers returning to his hometown of Memphis on Friday. "But I've been making it through just by going out there and just playing, continuing to try to have fun and and help these guys be better.

"We all know the situation at hand. There's a rebuilding process and restructuring. We have a lot of guys in this room. Some won't be here [next year], some will. We know we have a lot of second-round draft picks and two first-round picks. This is a big draft, and personally I think the future is big for this organization and this team for what we're trying to accomplish right now."

For the rest of the season at least, Young will continue to play the role of leader and mentor, shepherding and offering advice to the team's younger players like fellow Memphian Adonis Thomas, a former University of Memphis forward whom the Sixers signed to a 10-day contract this week.

Thomas saw his first action as a Sixer on Friday, finishing with four points on 2 of 3 shooting while playing the game's final eight minutes.

Young and Wroten both scored a team-high 18 points for the Sixers, who were outscored 24-7 over the final seven minutes of the third quarter after Young picked up his fourth foul and was forced to the bench.

Elliot Williams, another Memphian and former University of Memphis player whom the Sixers signed this season, added 13 points (on 6 of 11 shooting) and four assists off the bench. It was eighth time in the last nine games Williams has finished in double figures.

"We let the game get away from us in the third [quarter]," Williams said. "We've got three more games -- games against playoff contenders. One against Boston, but we've got Miami and Charlotte (on Saturday) on the road. We just want to keep getting better offensively and defensively in our rotations because it wasn't too good today."

Asked about his future with the team, Williams said: "This year was big for me because it was my first year of being healthy. Just getting my body right. Just working hard in the offseason and coming back better -- that's all I can focus on."

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 questionable. 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.