This afternoon the Sixers set up a conference call for a group of bloggers and Ed Stefanski. It lasted about 40 minutes, after the jump I'll have the highlights and some thoughts.
The call lasted longer than usual, and by my count we got in over 20 questions, which I'm pretty sure is a new record for these things. The usual suspects were represented on the call, Recliner GM, Liberty Ballers, Sixers 4 Guidos, Philly Arena, Real GM, Philadunkia and the 700 Level. Sixers.com will have a full transcript (possibly audio as well) later on today, but here's my brief take from notes.
I came in with five questions I really wanted to ask. The first was basically whether Ed Stefanski had his hands tied, financially. Was he allowed to use the MLE or the bi-annual to improve the roster or could he only sign guys to minimum deals. He pointed out that the Sixers actually out-bid Milwaukee for Hakim Warrick, but Warrick took less money for more playing time. Ed did say at this point we're looking at a minimum contract, maybe, to bring the roster up to 14, but that's not a guarantee, and 14 is probably the max.
Derek from Real GM followed that question up by asking about Ramon Sessions. Ed said Sessions is a very good player, but his skill set isn't a great fit for the Sixers' roster, especially at that price.
I also asked specifically about an open competition for the starting PG spot. Ed said nothing is written in stone, and he can absolutely envision a lineup with both Jrue and Lou in the backcourt together. But right now, heading into camp, he confirmed that the starting lineup would be Lou and Iguodala at the guard, Thad and Elton Brand at the forwards and Dalembert at center. Barring something drastic happening between now and then, that will be the starting lineup on opening night.
Stefanski made a point to say that Jrue's work in the gym made the team reassess the need for a veteran PG as the summer wore on. He said they had targeted a couple of guys via trade, but when nothing could be worked out on that front, he wasn't excited enough by the available free agents, and Jrue was making a strong case for minutes. At that point, they liked what Royal Ivey would bring to the team defensively more than any other options at PG.
At some point, I had to bring up Willie Green and Ed's response was, well, surprising. He started by saying every year the Sixers come out of camp wondering what role Willie will play, and every year he winds up a big part of the team. He just sort of works his way into a role. This year, he said he could possibly see Willie playing a role similar to what Lucious Harris played with the Nets, an unorthordox backup PG, without typical PG skills. I'm not sure I see exactly how that would work, but there you have it.
There were a ton of great questions asked and answered: Ricky asked about Andre Miller, Ed responded that there was no legitimate offer at the deadline last season that would've made them better long-term, and no sign-and-trade this summer that would make sense either. He emphasized that the playoff experience the young guys have earned over the past two seasons is invaluable going forward (a point I've tried to make time and time again).
Ed talked about Twitter, the D-League, International Scouting, the learning curve of the Princeton Offense and a whole lot more.
I got the final question in before the call ended, basically, I asked why, with a roster capable of being an elite defensive team, did he choose Eddie Jordan as his head coach. His answer was basically that Jordan has been pigeonholed by the players he coached in the past, and he's neither an offensive coach, nor a defensive coach. He's both, and he's going to make defense the emphasis because that's how this roster is built to play. Excellent to hear, hopefully we'll see it put into action in the coming months.
A big thank you to Ed Stefanski and Michael Preston for putting this together for the bloggers. Be sure to check out Sixers.com and the other blogs involved for more on the call.