In case you hadn't noticed, I'm quite down on the Sixers front office these days. In fact, this is probably the lowest I've been on them in the past decade. When you take a look at their body of work, though, perhaps I'm being too kind.
Billy King was a complete nincompoop. There's no getting around that. But throughout his tenure, you at least got the feeling that he was trying to make the Sixers a better team. I mean, he rolled the dice on a couple trades, he signed guys to horrible contracts, but however misguided he may have been, he was honestly trying to make the team better. Can you honestly say the same about Ed Stefanski?
Let's take a look at the players he's added to this roster since taking over, excluding the draft:
- Gordan Giricek
- Elton Brand
- Theo Ratliff
- Kareem Rush
- Donyell Marshall
- Royal Ivey
- Primoz Brezec
- Rodney Carney
- Francisco Elson
- Jodie Meeks
- Jason Kapono
- Andres Nocioni
- Spencer Hawes
- Tony Battie
14 players acquired via either trade or free agency in his two-plus years as general manager. Brand is the only one in the group who came to the Sixers with a solid track record, and he was coming off a major injury. From this list, Brand was an above average player and second on the team in minutes last season. Ratliff and Marshall contributed, in limited action, to the team which eventually lost in the first round of the playoffs in '08-09. Meeks and Hawes are both young, with questionable levels of potential, and a narrow window of opportunity for the team to evaluate their talent prior to making a decision whether to extend them. Nocioni was a hair above average four years ago, and has since completely fallen off the cliff.
14 players acquired, not one of them a difference-maker. Honestly, 9 or 10 of them don't even belong in the league. Now take a look at this season's roster. If you want to be optimistic, you can point to Jrue, Turner, Iguodala and possibly Thad, Speights and Lou as well. They're your "young core" the guys you're going to build around. Then take a look at the rest of them. Brand may bounce back somewhat, but I'd say the odds of him earning his contract are remote, at best. Meeks' ceiling is probably a bit higher than Willie Green in his prime. Smith, Battie, Nocioni, Kapono, Green and Hawes (based on his production over the first three years of his career) simply do not belong in the NBA. There isn't a legit rotational player among them.
Stefanski, and a lot of talking heads as well, seem to think that depth is created by stockpiling similar players. What they don't realize is that stockpiling similarly weak players doesn't equate to depth. It equates to poor play up and down your roster. When Stefanski first took over as the general manager, he said again and again that he wouldn't "Make a move, just to make a move." Since then, he's made a series of moves to either tread water or depress the team's talent level. Instead of using the draft to grab cheap players in the second round who may have a specific skill to help the team, he's chosen to fill the roster out with veterans on minimum contracts who won't help in the short or long term. He hasn't made a single trade that has improved this team on the floor since he took over. Not one.
We're left with three players to build around, a couple to cross our fingers and hope they change their stripes and the dregs of the league. This from a roster that's butting up against the luxury tax. I'm not sure how you can go from there to here and keep your job. To this point, that's Stefanski's only accomplishment at the helm, keeping his job.
I didn't even mention the debacle he made of the head coaching position, that almost seems beside the point.