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Collins As Co-Pilot

I took another look at Doug Collins' first press conference as the Sixers head coach earlier tonight. Then I listened to him being interviewed by a couple of Philly sports talk characters again. This time, I wasn't so much trying to figure out what type of coach he's going to be, I was more interested in how much control he's going to have over the roster.

Over and over again we heard Collins talking about building, no quick fixes and evaluating what he has. He pointed out the positives of the current roster, and admitted some of the weaknesses, but overall the thing that stuck out to me was the personal ownership he was taking. I don't just mean referring to the team as we, I mean he was personally talking not only about how he was going to get the most out of the roster he's been hired to coach, but it seemed to me like he was talking about personnel changes on a level we never heard Eddie Jordan even approach.

He talked about the players he likes in the draft. He talked about moves he's personally made in the draft in years past. He talked about the type of players he'd be looking to add. He talked about what type of players are missing from the current roster.

To me, it sounds like Collins is going to be more of a partner in the process of reshaping, or upgrading this roster, rather than a passenger along for the ride, which was clearly the role Jordan played. Why this is the case this time around probably doesn't matter too much, but the possibilities range from Snider's insistence, to Collins' demands, to Stefanski learning from his mistakes. I'll let you guys decide which is most likely. The important thing is what it means for the team going forward.

The biggest impact, from my perspective, is that Ed Snider, and Comcast, seem to have faith in Collins or Collins + Stefanski, or Collins + Stefanski + Shue + DiLeo, or whoever the actual braintrust is at the moment. The last time Snider had this kind of trust, Stefanski was allowed to spend nearly $200M on Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams. While the team clearly isn't in a position to spend to that degree, I do believe the financial constraints which seemed to dictate personnel moves last summer will be removed.

I do not think getting under the luxury tax will be a priority. If it's something they can easily do, sure, why not. But I don't think any drastic moves will be made which could potentially weaken the team in the future purely for short-term monetary reasons. What does this mean? Put the MLE and the bi-annual exceptions back on the table. Trading expiring contracts for longer deals is now an option. Buying a draft pick is not out of the realm of possibility.

Here's the key, though. This is only a good thing if Doug Collins is 100% true to his word. He said, in no uncertain terms, that there are no quick fixes. He wants to build a team here that will compete for the next 8-10 years, not cobble together some group of guys on their lasts legs for an artificial run at the second round. He talked about how smart teams have put themselves in a position to make a move for the final piece at the right time, and that means being smart with your cap space. That means stockpiling young, cost-efficient assets. That means valuing expensive contracts for what they will become down the road, not making rash decisions.

If I'm reading this situation correctly, and I very well may not be, here's what I think you can expect to happen in the coming months:

  • The Sixers will stay at number 2 in the draft and take Evan Turner unless (a) Turner is selected #1, (b) Derrick Favors just absolutely blows the Sixers away when they bring him in for a workout or (c) a monumental offer is made by a team to move up for Turner. This won't be a deal that we sorta maybe like, this would be a deal that pretty much everyone can get behind. Most likely, Turner will be a Sixer by the end of June.
  • The Sixers will acquire another pick in the draft, probably by simply buying it. It's possible Thad or Speights could be moved for a pick, but that's less likely.
  • The Sixers will attempt to use the MLE for a long-term piece, but there's a chance they won't be able to get the guy they target. If they don't, they won't reach, they'll stand pat and settle for a player or two for the veteran's minimum. Probably a journeyman big and a veteran PG capable of spelling Jrue for 5-15 minutes/game.
Furthermore, I don't expect any young pieces to be moved until Collins has these guys in the gym and can assess the talent on the roster firsthand (Thad, Speights and Lou are remote possibilities, if traded for a draft pick).

Could this whole thing go another way, even if I'm reading most of the signs correctly? Absolutely. Stefanski could still be the guy calling the shots on his own, and Snider's confidence in Collins could lead to Stefanski making all the wrong moves. Do any of you feel comfortable with the idea of a blank check in big Ed's hands at this point? I don't. Snider's comments could also be lip service, or some kind of Flyers-induced hysteria that will quickly pass when the official cap number is released and he realizes the Sixers could lose over $10M to the luxury tax.

The main reason I remain optimistic is the fact that Collins was hired at all. A four year contract for a name head coach, a coach who is coming in here preaching patience, preaching building this team into a winner the right way. That's a major investment when ownership really didn't have to make one. They could've saved money (and even kept a good portion of their fans happy) by hiring an assistant with a decent pedigree, but they didn't. They swung for the fences and they're footing the bill. So again, unless Doug Collins was full of hot air over the past 48 hours, I'm expecting things to turn around here, and I'm expecting them to build a lasting contender.

Call me crazy if you want, that's what the comment section is for.

by Brian on May 26 2010
Tags: Basketball | Doug Collins | Ed Stefanski | Offseason | Sixers |