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, all the time

When Elton Brand signed with the Sixers many people, myself included, thought this was the beginning of long stretch of relevancy for hoops in Philly. How could you not? The much-needed low-post threat was added to the mix. The front office was finally making smart moves, both for the team and for the cap. Every move looked golden.

To be honest, all the moves still look great. It's the one move that has yet to be made that has me worried. Andre Iguodala is still sitting out there as a restricted free agent. "So what," you might say. I've said myself that the one-year qualifying offer for Iguodala might be a good thing. And it might. But the fact that he still isn't signed leaves the team in a precarious position.

Before we go any further, let's take a look at what we should and should not be reading into the situation. Here's a list of the notable restricted FAs who have yet to sign, and why:

  • J.R. Smith - No offers from other teams, and Denver has been slashing salary.
  • Delonte West - Wants more than he's worth. Threatening to bolt overseas if he doesn't get it.
  • Ben Gordon - Wants more than he's worth. Already turned down more than he's worth. Probably going to sign his qualifying offer and test the UFA market next Summer.
  • Josh Smith - Apparently does not want to be in Atlanta long-term, for whatever reason.
  • Andre Iguodala - Your guess is as good as mine.
Look at that list. There is some kind of significant problem in the negotiations with every single legit restricted free agent who has yet to sign but Iguodala. Or is there? Does the fact that there haven't been barbs, or figures, trading through the media mean that the team and player are making good progress in their negotiations, or does it just mean that both sides are acting professionally. Maybe behind the scenes things are a mess. Maybe they're $15M apart and no closer to deal today than they were a month ago, when they could first start negotiating.

The fact that we haven't even heard they're close to signing Iguodala to an extension leads me to believe they are not. And if they aren't, this team could be in serious limbo this time next season.

After the jump we'll examine why...

Let's imagine Iguodala signs his qualifying offer and becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season. This is what the Sixers roster will look like after the season, with approximate cap numbers in parens after each player:
  • Elton Brand ($19.44M) ($14.8M)
  • Samuel Dalembert ($11,360,000)
  • Lou Williams ($5,500,000)
  • Reggie Evans ($4,960,000)
  • Willie Green ($3,682,000)
  • Thaddeus Young ($2,105,400)
  • Jason Smith ($1,418,880)
  • Marreese Speights ($1,658,280)
  • Royal Ivey ($1,000,000)
  • Kareen Rush ($1,000,000)
  • Team Total: $52,067,000 approx. $47,467,000 approx.
Update: The numbers above were incorrect in the original version of this entry, which influenced the post from here on out. I've rewritten parts to go along with the new numbers.

So, probably somewhere near $13M in cap space, if they renounce both Miller and Iguodala, who would both be unrestricted free agents. Until Iguodala and Miller sign with another team or are renounced they'd be over the cap and unable to do anything. They would have Bird Rights for both players, meaning they could go as far over the cap to re-sign each as they needed to. But, what if they can't? What if Andre Miller and Iguodala don't want to return to Philly? If that happens, where exactly is this team headed, as currently constructed?

Assuming they lose both players early enough in free agency to become players in the UFA and RFA markets, the won't have enough to replace both guys. Not to mention the fact that it doesn't look like much back court help will be available via free agency (Ben Gordon, Mike Bibby, Raymond Felton, Rip Hamilton [ETO]). They'd be in the same daunting situation with Iguodala for a sign-and-trade as they are this season (only able to take back 50% of his first-year salary). A sign-and-trade with Miller would be easier because it's doubtful that he'd get much of a raise over his $10M salary this season, but when you're talking about an unrestricted FA, the sign-and-trade is highly unlikely.

The more I think about it, the more crucial I think it is to get Andre Iguodala to sign on the dotted line for a healthy extension. The Andre Miller situation is going to be the drama of next Summer, the last thing we need is to worry about both Andres bolting town and leaving huge holes the team cannot fill. Even if the worst-case scenario happens, and Iguodala can't make the transition to SG, if you have him signed you can trade him and get equal money back in the deal.

It seems odd to say that signing a guy to a $75M contract you may regret is the fiscally prudent move, but I really think that's the situation the Sixers find themselves in right now. Whatever is standing in the way of Iguodala signing an extension needs to be worked out. Without him under contract this whole thing could unravel next Summer.