In the comments on yesterday's post, the notion that the Sixers need to use the MLE to bring in an establish point guard to replace Andre Miller was floated. It didn't come out of left field, either. Eddie Jordan flat out said you could not replace Andre Miller with a rookie several times. You can read whatever you want to into that statement, but it does mean that we should take a look at the free agent PG crop with a discerning eye.
Let's start with the guys who you could rely on to come in and start at the PG position without question:
- Jason Kidd (unrestricted)
- Mike Bibby (unrestricted)
- Andre MIller (unrestricted)
- Raymond Felton (restricted)
- Ramon Sessions (restricted)
That's it. Out of that group, I'd say Sessions is the only one who is a lock to find a new home this Summer, assuming someone is willing to pay all or most of the MLE to offer him a multi-year deal. There are rumors circulating that the Hawks are looking to shed salary to be able to re-sign Bibby. There's a shot the Sixers re-sign Miller, but it seems to be shrinking by the day (or the dollar), Kidd may have a handshake agreement to stay in Dallas and Larry Brown loves having multiple guys who can handle the point, so I'd be mildly surprised if Charlotte didn't match any offer for him.
Still, let's assume all of these guys are available, to some degree. Forget about Bibby right away. He's not signing for the MLE, he'd probably take a discounted offer from the Hawks (for more than the full MLE) than settle for $5.85M this season. Let's also forget about Miller, if he re-signs, this is a moot point.
Jason Kidd is interesting. He was in NJ for their finals runs with Eddie Jordan as an assistant coach and Ed Stefanski in the front office. I also read that he's pretty tight with both of them. The only problem is Kidd is most likely in that point of his career where he wants nothing more than a ring. That means if he's willing to play for the MLE, he'd probably be more likely to sign with a team on the verge (like the Cavs or the Lakers) than a team that's at least a couple of years away, like the Sixers. I'm not counting Kidd out, though. If Dallas doesn't pony up the dollars and he's still sitting out there without a home in late July/early August, a reunion with a couple guys from his glory days may look very appealing.
Right now, I consider Kidd the best realistic PG option for the MLE. He'd be a perfect tutor for Lawson, Maynor, Jennings, Holiday or whatever point they wind up drafting, if they do indeed draft a point. You could probably sign him to a 2-year deal, meaning you'd preserve the cap space in 2011. He knows this offense. He can shoot the three. He isn't quick enough to guard the super-quick perimeter players, but he's a strong, tough, smart defender, which is more than you can say for any guard on the Sixers roster right now.
This leaves us with two PGs who are potential fits as starters, and could warrant the use of the full MLE: Raymond Felton and Ramon Sessions. The sexy name is Sessions, but while he may be the better all-around player, I don't think he's a fit. Don't get me wrong, he's a very good scorer for a point, his assist to turnover ratio was unbelievably good (almost 4 to 1 his rookie year, 3 to 1 last year), but the guy simple cannot shoot. I mean, he can't shoot a lick. He shot 17.6% from three last season, only hitting 6 of 34 on the year. If you look a little closer at his stats, things are even more grim. According to 82games.com, 53% of his field goal attempts came on jumpers. His eFG on those shots .376. For a point of reference, Andre Miller's eFG on jumpers was .407. Lou Williams' was .398.
The absolute last thing this team needs is another perimeter player who cannot punish teams from the outside. Actually, check that. Forget punishing teams, how about just keeping teams mildly honest from the outside.
If the Sixers are dead set on acquiring a free agent point with the MLE, and Kidd is not available, I think Raymond Felton is really the only guy worth exploring. Felton isn't ideal, and I'm even sure he'd be a great fit on the team, but in my opinion, he'd at least be a better option than Sessions. In starter's minutes for Charlotte last year, Felton's assist to turnover ratio was better than 2 to 1. His eFG on jumpers was .420, even though he shot only 28% from three. He isn't what I'd call a shooter, not by any means, but at least he has the ability to hit an occasional three, and his mid-range game is head and shoulders better than Sessions'. To be honest, if I was calling the shots, neither of these guys would be on my radar, they just don't provide what the Sixers desperately need out of the position, which is a guy who can hit the three.
My take on the team's needs apparently doesn't fall in line with what the team thinks, though. I'm predicating all of my analysis on the simple fact that the team needs to move forward with Iguodala, Thad and Brand playing the majority of their minutes at the 2, 3 and 4, respectively. If they're operating under the assumption that Brand is their center and Thad their power forward, when then all bets are off. Personally, I think that's dangerous, faulty logic, and it could lead in any direction.
Based on my thoughts of how the teams should proceed, the only point I'd really be comfortable with for the full MLE would be Kidd. If it comes down to either Sessions or Felton (if Felton is even available), then Felton would be my guy. Obviously, any of these options falls a distant second on my list, though. For my money, the full MLE should be used on Marcin Gortat. If you don't get him, then I'd very wary of using it for more than 2 years on any other player who would be willing to sign a deal of that level.