As is often the case, a harmless rumor article having absolutely nothing to do with the Sixers got me thinking...about the Sixers. This time, the article was about Hedo leaving Orlando. After the jump we'll talk about an of opportunity that may present itself after July 1st.
The premise of the article is that Orlando cannot afford to keep Hedo. They don't want to pay the luxury tax. If that's the case, Hedo may not be the only casualty. Right now, if Hedo opts out, Orlando will have 9 players under contract and the rights to Fran Vazquez (although who knows if/when he'll be coming stateside). To those ten guys, they'll have $65M and change committed, $64M committed to nine if Vazquez isn't on the team. The luxury tax number is probably going to be right around $70M, although this isn't confirmed.
The math is pretty simple here. If someone offers the full MLE to Marcin Gortat, the Magic will either have to let him walk or pay the luxury tax to keep him. I'm not sure they're willing to commit that much money to the Polish Hammer, who doesn't seem to get along with SVG. If Orlando does choose to use the full MLE, and flirt with the luxury tax, wouldn't they be more likely to try to find someone to take Hedo's place?
This is far from a done deal. If I was Stan Van Gundy, I'd probably toy with the Idea of starting a lineup of Jameer Nelson, Courtney Lee, Rashard Lewis, Gortat and Dwight Howard. More likely, though, the Magic would run with Nelson, Lee, Pietrus, Lewis and Howard. Either way, I think the Sixers should seriously consider pursuing Gortat.
Look at it this way, even if the Sixers wanted to move Dalembert and actually found a buyer, they really couldn't afford to move him because they don't have a viable option at the five behind him. Assuming he's on the team, it's hard to hold him accountable because again, the team needs him on the floor. More importantly, this time next year, Dalembert's value will increase because of his expiring contract. If they still can't move him, then the Sixers may be in an extremely untenable situation the following Summer. What if the Sixers still don't have a viable replacement for him when he hits free agency?
It isn't the team's biggest area of need right now, but I think using the MLE for Gortat may be a very good idea for the long term. In the short term, you have a guy on the roster who can push Dalembert. If he doesn't perform, or if he gets lazy/crazy, you can sit him on the bench and come in with a guy who can still rebound and block shots. In fact, you may even have a legit competition for the starting job. Given the opportunity, I don't think it's a long shot that Gortat wins the job outright. In the long term, if he pans out you've got a center signed for less than $6M/year when Sam walks or is traded.
I think this move would also allow the Sixers to loosen their grip on Jason Smith and Marreese Speights, possibly even use one of those guys to trade for a shooter and get rid of one of their bad contracts (Reggie or Willie).
I'd like to know what you guys think. From the times I've seen Gortat play, and from his stats, I think he could step into a starting role right now and contribute excellent rebounding on both ends of the floor, block a fair amount of shots, and he doesn't seem to kill a team's offense either. At worst, I think he gives you production comparable to Sammy's without any illusions that he should be a focal point of the offense. Thoughts in the comments, as usual.
There are two minor addendums to this move:
- If the Sixers use the full MLE this season, they're going to be right up against the cap next Summer. Probably, they can afford to use it one of the next two seasons unless they are willing to pay the tax (this is assuming they don't sign Andre Miller, nor do they do any kind of sign & trade with Miller bringing back more than a couple million in salary back).
- If the Sixers use the full MLE in either of the next two seasons, they aren't going to have much room under the cap in 2012 when Willie, Sammy and Reggie finally come off the books. If they don't use the MLE, they could have enough to sign a player to a deal similar to what they signed Brand to last Summer. All depending on what happens with the cap, of course.