Thad Out For 'A While:' What Do We Do Now?

Thad Out For 'A While:' What Do We Do Now?

Last
night's game against the Magic was about as unenjoyable as a 17-point
win can be—not only was the game an unwatchable affair against a crappy
team's JV squad (any win by less than 40 would've felt at least a little
underwhelming), but the Sixers lost Thaddeus Young in the second
quarter with what has since been identified as a left hamstring sprain.
No specific timetable has been given on Thad's return—coach Doug Collins
says he'll be out "a while"—but based on the returns of players like
Manu Ginobili and Luol Deng from similar recent injuries, it'll probably
be at least ten days, maybe about two weeks until we see Thad suiting
up again. (Unless it's a full tear of the hamstring, in which case the prognostication becomes a lot more dramatic.)

Regardless, this is a tough loss for a team ostensibly in the playoff
hunt—with their win against the Magic, the Sixers again move to three
back of the eighth-place Celtics, though those guys have won four in a
row and look poised to continue surging, even with a couple
season-ending injuries to key players. Thad has been the Sixers'
second-most valuable player this season and probably their best
all-around contributor, leading the team in rebounds, steals and field
goal percentage—an extremely odd package of stat-stuffing that speaks to
Thad's versatility as a player. By the all-encompassing but extremely
imprecise "Win Shares" statistic, Thad is easily tops on the team, his
4.4 Wins Added a full 1.5 wins better than Jrue Holiday, second on the
team with 2.9. He will be missed, whatever time he's out.

In a way, though, this is probably the best time of the year for
Thad to go down, especially if it is gonna be just a two-week injury.
That period should overlap the All-Star Break, a period where the Sixers
go a full week without playing, and even Thad misses two weeks, that's
just four games total that he'll have to sit out. If he comes back
shortly after that, his return should also come in time to be present
for the Funny Looking Kid With the Big Hair's Sixers debut, whenever
that is—the latest update now has him coming back in "February," a
typically FLKWB-esque update that's simultaneously encouraging and
discouraging—and at that point, of course, it will be critical for the
frontcourt pair to get as much time playing together, and with Evan and
Jrue in the back, as possible, to see what kind of potential this team's
young core has together.

If this is a full tear, though, and Thad is out for two months (as Howard Eskin predicts he would be),
that's bad. Even if our long-promised All-Star center comes back after
the Break as once anticipated, making a playoff push without Young would
be a tremendous challenge, and one I imagine the team probably isn't up
for. Thad has replaced Iguodala as the Liberty Baller who does all the
little things and whose contributions you can't even fully appreciate
until he's out, and then you realize "Oh yeah, it was nice how he dove
for all those loose balls, finished on the fast break, bodied up that
opposing power forward, and such." He'll get an MRI today, which should
tell us how bleak the outlook is for young Thad.

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Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

After an 0-for-5 day at the plate, Odubel Herrera isn't heading to the bench a day later.

He's leading off. 

Pete Mackanin chose to move the slumping centerfielder atop the lineup card for Friday's series opener against the Reds despite Herrera's striking out in all five plate appearances Thursday.

"I think he's a .290-plus hitter as a leadoff man and I'm not going to sit him," Mackanin said pregame. "He needs to battle his way out. You figure you're the leadoff hitter once a game. After that, it's wide open."

While he hasn't batted leadoff this season, Herrera spent the majority of his time in that spot last season. In 76 games there, he batted .285 with a .359 OBP and .417 slugging percentage. 

The leadoff hitter this season has been Cesar Hernandez, who has a day off with a groin pull he's dealt with the last 10 days. Herrera primarily has been the No. 3 hitter this season and his average is down to .226 with 49 strikeouts to just 11 walks. 

Mackanin hopes the leadoff role can help change Herrera's approach at the plate.

"He was drawing a lot of walks at leadoff, so whether he has that mindset or not, I'm not sure," the manager said. "I just want to get him as many at-bats as possible. We need to get him going. We need him and [Maikel] Franco to get going."

May specifically has been tough on Herrera. He has four hits in his last 36 at-bats and has seven strikeouts in his last two games. He has just seven hits in 22 games this month. 

"I think he's at the point where he's grinding and sometimes when you grind, sometimes there's that feeling where you get lost," Mackanin said. "I've been in situations as a hitter where I've gone up to the plate saying, 'I don't care where it is. I'm going up there and just hacking.' Because you start thinking and that's not working.

"And you look for a pitch and then all of a sudden you say I'm going to take a pitch to get a look at and it's strike one. Then he throws you a nasty slider and that's strike two and your plan is out the window. So I've gone up to the plate myself saying, 'I'm just looking down the middle and swinging. I'm not thinking.'"

When asked, Mackanin said the team had not discussed demoting Herrera or Franco to the minors to take pressure off the duo.

While Herrera tries to hit his way back into a groove, Howie Kendrick is in the midst of working his way back to the majors. He was hit by pitch twice in a rehab appearance Thursday but is back in the lineup Friday in left field. 

Mackanin said Kendrick needed four days minimum in his rehab assignment and will therefore play Friday and Saturday before the team sees how he feels.

The manager also said the team would give more playing time to backup catcher Andrew Knapp. He started consecutive games for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"I'm going to try and see him as much as possible and keep him as sharp as possible instead of once a week," Mackanin said. "That's tough to hit, once a week. It's tough to hit twice a week if you don't hit back-to-back. There's no ulterior motive."

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

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Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is in Australia this week, where he has accused longtime friend and former Australian men's national team assistant coach Shane Heal of defrauding him of $750,000, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Brown invested $250,000 into each of three companies for which Heal was the sole director. Brown wasn't given a legal title regarding the companies and didn't know the specifics of how the money would be used.

"I assumed that the money was going to be used for what Shane told me it was going to be used for," Brown said. "Because it was a friend that I had for 25 years."

Heal was charged last year by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission following an investigation relating to alleged misconduct in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the AAP.

The sides return to court in Brisbane on July 20.

Heal played in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996-97 and was with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.