If my reading of the tea leaves is incorrect (and it probably is), and the more optimistic members of the fan base are correct, the Sixers have a plan. They're laying the groundwork for a slow rebuild, or a delayed rebuild. They're clearing their books for two years from now. I say if that's the plan, then do it right.
First of all, if this is the plan, it's not a bad one. The Spencer Hawes signing has completely soured me to any subsequent move this summer, but the two-year max edict makes sense. The salary cap is going to drop. The luxury tax is going to become extremely punitive and a bunch of teams are spending like lottery winners right now. There's going to be a reckoning, if not next year, maybe the year after. Being the team sitting there with $30M in cap space when teams see the error of their ways is a pretty good position to be in.
If this is the plan, I can get behind it (and pretend Hawes isn't on the team), but I don't think they should stop where they are right now. If you're not going to sign anyone to a long-term deal, then I think you also need to think about relieving yourself of the one long-term deal currently on your books, Thad Young.
Here's the trade I propose:
- Sixers receive Jose Calderon, Ed Davis
- Raptors receive Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner
This move fits with the moves they've already made this summer. Calderon fits the need for a backup point guard (and shooter), and he's on the final year of his deal. Ed Davis is on his rookie contract. He was drafted the same year as Turner, but he'll make far less money. Not to mention the fact he fills a position of weakness and he's actually been a productive player in his first two seasons, whereas Turner does not and has not.
Here's what the roster would look like heading into this season:
- PG: Jrue, Calderon
- SG: Dorell Wright, Nick Young
- SF: Iguodala, Harkless
- PF: Ed Davis, Allen, Watkins, Moultrie
- C: Hawes, Vucevic
More importantly, look at the salary structure before and after the trade:
- 2012-13 prior to trade: $55.56M. After trade: $54.99M
- 2013-14 prior to trade: $45.14M. After trade: $33.02M
This trade would save them a little over $12M against the cap next summer, and remember the cap will probably drop plus Jrue is due an extension. Now if they follow this move up by trading Iguodala for an expiring contract, their number against the cap next season drops to $16.86M. That might be overkill, and they might be hard-pressed to reach the salary floor if they strike out on a top-tier free agent, but more flexibility isn't a bad thing.
Personally, I think the team on the floor would probably be a little better this season if they made the trade than they are as currently constructed, but that's a secondary point. If they make a move like this, they gain their cap space a year earlier and have the ability to completely rebuild the team in either direction next summer (rebuild or go for a max free agent).