Most reports involving the Sixers and the NBA trade deadline have indicated the Sixers will stand still at the trade deadline. This is a problem.
I like the players here and love the way the team has played in spite of its flaws. I didn’t imagine a playoff run coming this year – I expected the team to struggle and eventually make some roster changes. The bad play started early but turned around over the last 40 or so games, and I couldn’t be happier for the team.
But the Sixers roster as of right now isn’t good enough to do much more than scare a better team in the first round of the playoffs.
I see this as a major issue. While elated because of my low expectations for this team’s performance, I fail to see the point of not trying to get better now (or in the future). Here’s a few reasons why:
The Sixers will not be active in free-agency. The Sixers will likely be well over the current cap going into free agency, as I expect the team will probably only work to retain Thaddeus Young. I’m not sure, meanwhile, that Spencer Hawes will even get a qualifying offer, since he’s probably not worth the $4 million the offer requires. Even if the Sixers are below the cap, it won’t be enough to sign anyone significant.
The NBA draft looks to be the weakest in years. Holding a pick mid-first round isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a draft (see: Holiday, Jrue). But we can just as likely get Jiri Welsch (or his modern-day equivalent) in that range. With no can’t miss guys and players hesitant to declare due to the labor uncertainty, teams can’t count on using the draft this year to gain trading assets.
The Sixers have more money available in expiring contracts now than they will have next year. Since I assume that Thad Young will be signed to a new, longer contract and that Hawes will not be signed to a qualifying offer, the Sixers will have only 2 expiring contracts next year with the current roster: Jodie Meeks (for under $1 million) and Andres Nocioni (for about $6.5 million). Currently, the Sixers have Kapono and Songaila combined for $11 million, as well as Hawes for $3 million if necessary.
Our young players will never be younger. Young athletes with high potential have great trade value, both due to their abilities and their contracts. We have a lot of players committed to rookie contracts past this season: Holiday, Turner, Meeks, Speights, and Brackins. While all are talented in some ways, they wouldn’t be as valuable if they weren’t cost-effective to the team. Waiting until next year will hurt the trade values of everyone here to some degree, but especially Mo Speights and Meeks, whose contracts expire after next year.
All of these reasons make a strong case that, even in the face of labor uncertainty, something has to be done regarding the team. Whether the Sixers trade their best guys for young players/cap room or the young guys for vets, well, that’s for another entry.