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Around the League: Philadelphia 76ers

G. Love & Special Sauce - I-76 (via GLoveSSVEVO)

The 76ers are one of my favorite NBA teams and have been since I started following pro ball in 1980. Back then I was a Celtics fan, mainly because they had just picked up a local guy by the name of Kevin McHale, along with Robert Parrish, in what was probably the biggest trade heist in NBA history. Boston also had some guy named Larry Bird who was kinda good too.

The Sixers, meanwhile, were Boston’s primary competition in the East and had more than a few players worth watching as well: Dr. J (whom I patterned my adolescent game after), Mo Cheeks, Andrew Toney, the Jones’s and Chocolate Thunder.

The rivalry was intense and the games exciting to watch.

Skipping past Barkley (who remains one of my favorite players ever), Iverson (who may be the most fearless player I’ve ever seen) and all the highs and lows this franchise has seen since – the Philadelphia 76ers find themselves at something of a fork in the road:

A) Stick with the status quo for one more year until Brand’s $18 million comes off the books. This choice would pretty much guarantee another playoff appearance in the weak eastern conference and minimize potential operating losses for the still-newish owners.

B) Risk falling back and missing the playoffs next year by moving Igoudala and Brand off the books now. Roster continuity is important. Losing two key contributors in one offseason could muck the team up for a while, especially until Turner grows into his Iggy-shoes. Fans might not like it either (though I suspect very few Philly fans have delusions of grandeur w/ this roster, despite nearly making it to the ECF this year).

C) Split the difference, keep Iggy (the team’s best player and leader), amnesty Brand and use his money to buy a few good big men now. The risk here is striking out. If that were to happen, the Sixers’ front court problems would be even worse, which may force them to gamble big bucks on a Hawes resigning.

2011-2012 Team Overview

While I appreciate the statistical knowledge and perspective offered by many of the people who post on Canis, it’s not my forte and it’s not something I can write about with any passion or clarity. I’ll just stick to the basics. Those interested, however, can view more detailed information on the web pages linked below:

Cap situation: The Sixers have about $56 million currently on the books for next year but could drastically reduce that figure just by amnestying the previously mentioned $18 million Brand contract. Sixers also have cap holds for the #15 pick, Hawes (a free agent) and qualifying offers to make or not make to a number of younger guys. Lou Williams is under contract for a little over $5 million next year ($7.8 million cap hold) but is expected to opt out.

A RealGM poster (sixerfan1976) Philly fans seem to trust for inside info (and who doesn’t come across like a d-bag attention whore, I might add) has intimated that a Brand amnesty and an Iggy trade are seriously being considered, and that at least one of Williams or Iggy won’t be back.

Team defense - Opp PTS/G: 89.4 (3rd of 30) / Def Rtg: 99.2 (3rd of 30) / SRS: 3.59 (5th of 30)

  • Miscellaneous: eFG% of .460 was 3rd best in the league, DRB% of 75.2 was good for 4th.

Team offense – PTS/G: 93.6 (23rd of 30) / Off Rtg: 103.9 (20th of 30) / Pace: 89.7 (24th of 30)

  • Miscellaneous: Fewer turnovers than any other team, fewer free throw attempts and made free throws too. Only five teams attempted fewer 3-pt shots.

5-man units – The Sixers best 5-man unit was Holiday-Meeks-Iguodala-Brand-Hawes at a plus-59 and 63.6 win percentage. The team’s worst 5-man unit had Turner as opposed to Meeks and posted a minus-63 with a 27.7 win percentage.

Casual impression: The Sixers win by making opponents play down to their level of offense. Turner and Igoudala may not be an ideal fit on the wings.

_________

Whatever the stats tell you or don’t, the 76ers have been stuck in NBA purgatory for a long time: good enough to make the playoffs most years but not to contend … and usually not bad enough to get a real shot at improving their prospects by adding top-end draft talent. In fact, I think the later stages of Barkley-led, Iverson-led and Igoudala-led Sixers eras were all very much like what we went through with Garnett after the WCF run.

The Roster

How do they get "downtown" (contender status) quickest?

Brand should be amnestied now and probably showed enough this year to be picked up by another team for next season, which would save the owners from having to pick up the whole $18 million tab.

Holiday and Turner are viewed as the future. Rightly or wrongly, they stay put.

Igoudala is the Sixers’ leader and best all-around player. He’s also the best asset they have for moving out of NBA mediocrity toward contender status. And while Turner had a rough go of it in the playoffs, he showed enough improvement during the regular season that the front office might see swapping Iggy-production for Turner-production while addressing the team’s front court needs as the way to go. On the other hand, a Brand amnesty could allow the Sixers to address those needs through free agency and postpone trading Iggy until next year when his contract becomes an expiring.

Thaddeus Young can’t be moved right now, in my opinion, unless the Sixers are willing to take back a similar contract. I don’t know who such a move might involve but I suppose anything’s possible.

Vucevic is young and on a cheap contract for three more years. Keep.

Williams probably isn’t back next year.

Battie, Brackins and Hawes? I’d be hesitant to pay Hawes what he’s likely to get and, while there’s definitely something to be said for roster continuity, I wouldn’t make resigning any of these three guys a priority.

Wolves perspective:

I don’t think Philly will look to unload Iggy as a straight salary dump. I don’t think Derrick Williams is the best trade chip to get him either. I hope I’m wrong. Picking up Lou Williams is more realistic but there would have to be a Ridnour or Barea trade made in conjunction with that move. I got nuthin’ else.

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