Up next in our Feelings On series is the sensation himself, Sam Dalembert. My thoughts, then yours after the jump.
As far as I'm concerned, there really isn't a debate about Sam's play on the floor. He's one of the best shot blockers in the league. He's one of the best rebounders in the league. He's one of the best low-post defenders in the league. He's capable of shutting down any interior threat, completely closing down the lane for opposing drivers and simply dominating the glass on both ends of the floor. Whatever negatives he brings on the offensive end, and there are plenty, don't come close to negating the positive effect he has on the game on the defensive end. Oh, and he's also the most durable big man in the game today and he runs like a deer.
There's no question as to whether the team is better with him on the floor. They are. And if they're going to be a solid defensive squad, they either need Sammy to play big minutes or they need to replace him with a guy who can do the things he does very well at least at a respectable level.
Obviously, there are more layers to Sammy beyond his on-court production. You've got the odd ball demeanor. The questionable work ethic. The fact that he apparently doesn't particularly like playing in Philly, reportedly, and his salary.
If you told me right now Sam would sign a reasonable 4 year extension after this season, say $5-7M per season, I'd say go for it. But guys don't like to take pay cuts, and that would be a major pay cut for him, even if he was motivated to stay in Philly. I don't see any way he's going to be locked up by the Sixers prior to hitting free agency, and I also think it's probably a long shot that the Sixers would be willing to pay his asking price when he does hit free agency.
Taking all of that into account, a couple of questions need to be answered. Foremost among them, are the Sixers better off letting his number come off the books and banking the cap space next summer, or can they make a positive move between now and then by moving Sam? Feelers have been out for several years, but the length of his deal plus the trade kicker (thanks, BK), have made his contract nearly impossible to move. This year, however, the kicker isn't so onerous and the team trading for Sammy would only have part of a season to deal with his antics. Plus, he's going to be playing for a contract, meaning best behavior and monster production, most likely.
Here are the questions:
1. If you can't (or don't want to re-sign him), would you rather let his contract expire and start banking cap space for the future, or move him for a potential asset?
2. Do you want to give whoever the new coach winds up being a decent chance to turn this team around in 2010-2011? If the answer is yes, I don't see how you can trade Dalembert without replacing him.
3. If you're in the "trade Sammy" camp, would you consider it a top priority this summer? Do you really want to clear the slate as much as possible heading into the season?
Thoughts in the comments, as usual.