Today was a bad day for most Sixers fans. In case you haven’t heard (not likely) the Sixers lost at home to Sacramento in overtime. Losses at all at this time of year are bad. But when you lose to one of the five worst teams in the league at home, when fans of that team had to awaken at 9:00 just to watch their team play, that’s an awful loss.
But just with any loss, positives can be found. For the 45-point Chicago loss, it couldn’t get any worse, and at least the loss came to a very good team. For the Milwaukee loss during the 5-game road trip, it let guys like Andre and Elton Brand play only half the game, giving them some much needed rest*. For each late-game collapse early in the season, the Sixers were at least very close, and in time they would learn to win.
*Andre, at least when I watched the Friday replay, looks like he could use a lot more rest. Meanwhile, Elton looks to have about 10 nagging injuries.
While I have yet to watch today’s game in full, I have seen the box score and was able to keep track of some of the game live. While Jrue Holiday’s huge stat line stands out in review, through the first 3 quarters Spencer Hawes’ numbers stood tall. While Sam Dalembert took our money and beat us today, Hawes played well, especially through 3 quarters. This is continuing a trend, a trend where Hawes has become a steadier member of the rotation as the season winds down.
Hawes played 43 minutes today, by far a season high. His previous high was slightly over 35, in his best game (against the Lakers). He has played over 20 minutes in each of the last 9 games – something he hasn’t done all year. In these games he actually hasn’t played all that well offensively, shooting only 45.2% in those games. However, he’s collected 7.8 boards a game during the stretch and more than one block per game.
In other words, he’s still not that great, but he’s been mildly effective during this run in the stat book. Hawes is the closest thing we have to a big man who can defend centers and make an impact at the offensive end.
But there’s another factor at play: Hawes is also playing for a contract. He has a qualifying offer worth over $4 million that the Sixers can choose to offer this offseason to him (or a longer extension). I doubt management is in a hurry to offer him a mega-deal, so he’s basically playing for those $4 million dollars. Right now, given his production (and his surprising defensive impact), absent of finding a better player at that price, Hawes is in line to get that deal if he keeps up his recent pace.
For the Sixers, $4 million (in a lockout) for one year is a good gamble for a player who turns only 23 one month from now at a position that the team is thin at. For Hawes, the market this summer is thin, especially for a perennially underachieving performer with lockouts and league-wide contract totals on the table.