When discussing Andre Iguodala this past week (since he has become THE topic on this blog), I mentioned that his contract was fair for a second-best player on a good team, something that I truly think he is.
With this being said, how should the Sixers go about shaping their team for the future? The masses (at least those that read Philadelphia newspapers or their website) believe the team should make a few changes, starting with offing some high-priced vets, including Iguodala, as I discussed before. Well, I’m here to try and convince you that one not-so-popular option may be the best idea to pursue.
The biggest issue looming for the Sixers’s future is the team’s lack of payroll flexibility. This year, they had over $55 million in salary committed to 13 players not named Andre Iguodala (also not counting the late-season addition of Antonio Daniels). While a large chunk of this comes off the books, the Sixers still have the draft, built-in raises for existing contracts, and Thad Young’s agent to contend with, almost ensuring that the team will have no significant drop in salary, unless that new CBA changes everything.*
*I attended a meeting an accounting SPO* at Temple hosted where Sixers CFO Andrew Speiser was the guest speaker earlier this year. Speiser answered a few questions. I wasn’t able to get one specifically in, but most of the questions had to do with revenue sharing and the potential for a lockout. I’ll have more details at an appropriate time (that is, after the finals, when this will be more of an issue). I would not make a great beat writer, if only because I could not get my questions in.
**I am a member of said organization, which takes a ton of effort to get into. Accountants and accounting students would know how tough it is, especially since I started my candidacy a month late, all while working another job plus this and 6 classes. Suffice it to say I won’t do anything that dumb again. Complaining rant ended. Sorry about that.
With so much salary on the books and such a mediocre record (can’t be any more mediocre than 41-41, right?), management put the team in a gray area – not good enough to compete with the elite, but not bad enough to miss the playoffs. Usually, public sentiment is to tear down the team and get better through getting younger. Not surprisingly, the majority of the Sixers’ fan base wants to do the same. I joined this cause last year: when you win 27 games, some changes must be made. But the Sixers, coming off a 14-win improvement, seem to be at least partially an up-and-coming team. The player that isn’t seen as part of the future? Iguodala.
But as I mentioned before, Andre is an excellent all-around player that is probably worth his contract, at least right now. I’ve written about it twice this week and many times previously. The Sixers should acquire (or at least attempt to acquire) a better player to go alongside him, while trying to keep the rest of the roster in tact. Unfortunately, the real albatross, Elton Brand’s contract, gets in the way of that happening.
Now, I loved Brand’s play this year. I named him MVP of the team, as he led the team in scoring, rebounding, and blocks while playing all but one game. But his contract stinks for a player who, for all the good he did, I would rate as the third-best player on a very good team, at best. He will not lead a team to a title and, even with his improvement, is still overpriced.
Another obstacle: Brand still costs too much to move. With him on the roster, surrounded with the young players the Sixers currently have (if they were to get rid of Andre), they will remain competitive, though probably not a playoff team, provided they don’t quit on day 2 like last year.
I can see the argument for keeping Brand over Iguodala, though: who exactly would replace Brand? At least we have Turner, who may or may not be ready but showed flashes of great potential, to replace Iguodala. Behind Brand, well, Mo Speights’ bulb ran out of juice, while Thad Young’s can’t be seen over his opponents. However, replacements aside, the Sixers have more talent now and in the future with keeping Iguodala over Brand.
Keeping both, though, while trying to acquire a third piece in spite of their two contracts, is still an option. And not a bad one.
This brings me to my main point: blowing up the team, at the current moment, is the completely wrong move. I wrote about it earlier this year at my old and decaying writing space, so I feel compelled to link it to you now. The team still possesses high-potential youngsters which make interesting trade pieces, which could make a move for another player possible.
Tearing down the house isn’t the only option, especially when it won’t be too hard to make nice improvements to the current roster. While even with improvements this roster almost certainly won’t be a championship roster, it will extend the window of competitiveness until the big contracts expire. At that point, our young players will line up for their contracts and, hopefully, having some post-season success. That, to me, sounds like the best road to travel.