We're getting awfully close to the point where the Philadelphia 76ers may have to start thinking about what changes they can make to get this team to play to its potential, and/or change the focus of the team. Before we can start to look at what players we can potentially get, we have to look at who we have, who we can afford to move and also where we stand against the cap.
The last is the easiest to answer. By my math, if the Sixers simply renounce their free agent rights to Andre Miller, Theo Ratliff, Donyell Marshall, Royal Ivey and Kareem Rush, they will have a salary cap number of $59,424,791 going into the free agency period next Summer. ($57M+ in contracts to 9 players, plus the minimum to 3 empty roster spots) This year, the salary cap was set at $58.68M. It's possible that number could go down if the economic crisis in America has a big impact on the league. It went up $3.05M from 07/08 to 08/09. Either way, the Sixers aren't going to have the cap space to make a major move in free agency as currently constructed, so if you were hoping they would just stand pat and then replace Andre Miller though free agency this Summer, it's not going to happen unless they can sign someone for the mid-level exception ($5.85M this season).
After the jump we'll break down what the Sixers have in their players (and more importantly, their contracts).
I'll break the contracts down by what I see as their value to other teams:Excellent Value
- Andre Miller - Miller's $9,999,999 comes off the books at the end of the season AND he's still a very good point guard. There are several teams who would love his services, his expiring deal or both. He's the Sixers' best trade chip right now, and to be honest, if things don't turn around he's the guy who I expect to be moved not as a means for this team to get over the hump this season, but as a sign of the white flag. Miller could also be a big sign-and-trade chip in the offseason. They could take back $12,499,998 125% of his '08-'09 salary ($9,999,999),
- Elton Brand - His $79M contract probably wouldn't scare off too many teams at this point. He's a beast down low, and rounding into shape right now. I don't see any way the Sixers would ever deal him this soon, but he's an elite chip they have. He can't be traded until December 15th, and they could take back up to $17,197,305, 125% of his '08-'09 salary ($13,757,844).
- Thaddeus Young - I'd say if the Sixers dangled Thad just about every team in the league would be on the phone before you know it. In fact, if they're going to get rid of some of their bad contracts it would probably have to be in a deal that included one of their young players. Thad's '08-'09 salary is $1,968,120.
Some Value, To The Right Team
- Marreese Speights - The kid has probably shown enough already to get on the radar of some GMs around the league. He's got a long way to go, but there are definitely teams out there who would want him. I'd consider him a sweetener in a larger deal, or possibly a straight-up deal for a young player with a similar upside. His '08-'09 salary is $1,542,600.
- Jason Smith - This time last year, Smith would've fallen into the same category as Speights. Now, he's a gamble some team may be willing to take. Personally, I don't think he ever had the upside that Speights does, but there are probably teams out there who would take him as a sweetener in a deal.
Valuable, But Extremely Problematic
- Sam Dalembert - His contract is the big stumbling block. He's owed $34,080,000 million over the next three seasons. Plus, he has a 7.5% trade kicker, meaning a team who trades for him would be taking on $11,309,000 in salary. The right team, in this case, would have to be someone who needs a center and isn't planning on taking part in the free agent feeding frenzy of the 2010 summer. They'd also have to be willing to play a center with a low basketball IQ and terrible hands. I'm not sure this team exists, although someone may be willing to take on his deal in a swap of bad contracts, possibly with a sweetener thrown in on one side or the other. Jason Richardson for Dalemebert? Possibly.
- Reggie Evans - Again, the contract is the problem. He's due $14,680,000 over the next three seasons. Evans fills a role, and he fills it perfectly. Toughness, rebounding and energy off the bench. I can think of several teams who could use him, but probably not at the price they'd have to pay. If he's moved, it would be bad contract for bad contract.
Possibly Valuable, But Problematic
- Andre Iguodala - The dreaded BYC. If you could find a team who thought he was worth $80M over the next 6 years it would have to be a team with about $4.52M in cap space or a trade exception equal to or greater than $4.52M. (Minnesota is the only team with the cap space, I believe. Denver has the trade exception.) The reason for this is complicated, but essentially, the Sixers can only take back half the value of Iguodala's salary this season, but the team he's traded to would have to take on 100%. So to make the salaries match, either a third team would have to be involved (the third team would have to have the cap space, or the exception) or the team you're dealing with would have to have the space/exception. The Sixers could only take back 125% of 50% of Iguodala's '08-'09 salary, or $7,062,500.
A Cancerous Contract
- Lou Williams - I'm not sure if he's killed all of his trade value yet, but he's on his way. He, like Iguodala, is a BYC, but his salary number for this season is low enough that they could probably find a taker. He's due $4,500,000, meaning a team trading for him would need roughly $2,250,000 in cap space/exception. I'm not sure what of value the Sixers could get for that type of money, maybe Williams could be used as a sweetener, that $2M could be eaten up by the 125% trade exception in a larger deal.
- Willie Green - Let's face facts, Willie is a dime a dozen in this league. He can score, sometimes. He doesn't defend most of the time. He doesn't have great size for the position, he doesn't have great speed for the position, he can't play the point. No one is going to take on his $11M+ over the next 3 seasons unless they have to take it to get a larger deal done. If there was a deal to be made for Willie, it would've been made by now.
- Theo Ratliff, Royal Ivey, Donyell Marshall, Kareem Rush - These guys are all nothing more than throw-ins to make a deal work under the cap.
I tried to be as objective as I could in rating everyone on the roster, and their contracts. This is what makes being a GM in the NBA so difficult. You've got a couple of decent trading chips here, but can you move any of them to fill a hole without creating another, bigger one?
Have at it, guys. Who would you trade and what would you trade him for?