I'm going to dip into the vernacular of the medical field for two phrases for today's entry in the radical idea series. DNR (do not resuscitate) and "First do no harm." I'll explain after the jump.
I think it's safe to say the final 7 games of the regular season and the 6th and final game of the playoffs had all of us out on the ledge. We saw the Sixers play some of the worst basketball we've ever seen in extremely important games. We all got to work immediately on our laundry list of offseason needs for the Sixers. The knee-jerk reaction as we head into the Summer is to fill some of those needs in a big way. That may be the right approach. I've come up with a couple of scenarios that fit into that mold, but today we're going to play devil's advocate.
Think back to this time last year. The Sixers had cap space to play with, and it looked like they weren't going to have anyone worthwhile to spend it on. There was a hope that Josh Smith could be stolen from Atlanta, but no matter how much we offered him, Atlanta could've matched. It seemed doubtful that Elton Brand would opt out. That left guys like Antawn Jamison, Corey Maggette and not a whole lot more on the free agent market. The Sixers had the #16 pick in a shallow draft, by all accounts.
Fast forward to early July and against all odds, the Sixers landed the biggest fish out there, Elton Brand. The low-post presence had been found. Later in the Summer, Ed Stefanski lured three minimum-wage veterans to fill out his roster and made another signing. Pretty much everyone was psyched. The Sixers put the pieces in place to at a minimum move up in the Eastern Conference, possibly contend.
Obviously, that's not how things worked out. Both Andres and Brand got off to slow starts. It quickly became obvious that Mo Cheeks was not the man to lead this particular team anywhere but to the lottery. Changes were made and then Brand went down with what would become a season-ending injury.
The team rallied behind their new coach, their old style and gave us all hope (false or otherwise). Then they pulled the rug out from under us. Now our floor general is probably leaving for greener grass (if the grass is really greener on the left coast) and we're pretty much right back where we were in October, only without Andre Miller.
So, what is this radical idea that I've just spent way too many words setting up? Well, it's simple. Don't do anything this Summer that can't be undone within 2 years. Sam Dalembert, Willie Green and Reggie Evans all have bad contracts, but here's the thing. As time goes by, those bad contracts will turn from anchors to assets. Couple that with the fact that we still don't know what a lineup with Brand at the 4, Thad at the 3 and Iguodala at the 2 is really capable of and I think you have more than enough reason to give it another year.
This means if you use the MLE, you use it for a two-year deal, preferably for a veteran who can shoot. This does not mean you avoid all trades like the plague, but it means you don't swap any of your bad contracts for longer bad contracts. To be specific, this is the the blueprint:
- Find the right coach. Think defense first.
- Concentrate on the draft, pick the player(s) you want, then do what you need to to get them (trade up, buy a second pick in the second round, etc.) It's imperative that you come out of the draft with a point.
- Let Andre Miller walk, if you do a sign-and-trade, make for a deal no longer than 2 years. Preferably, an expiring deal and a future first-round pick.
- Use the MLE or bi-annual to bring some three-point shooting to the team, but only on a two-year deal, at most. Stay patient, wait for the big names to sign elsewhere, then find bargains. (Anthony Carter, Jarret Jack, Anthony Parker, Morris Almond, Von Wafer, Juan Dixon and Rodney Carney are a few to keep an eye on)
The goal here is simple, use 2009-2010 to install a new, smarter system, assess the pieces you have in place and once you've seen where the weaknesses truly are, then you plot your course going forward in 2010-2011 with a three attractive expiring deals as trade bait.
Now, could you consider this giving up on 2009-2010 before it even begins? Possibly. Or maybe the new coach can work some magic with this roster, then you can make a big trade mid-season. Or maybe they catch lightning in a bottle with their draft pick(s) and things progress quicker than we thought. If you do opt to go this route, I think you should still look to deal Lou Williams, if at all possible. His contract is long and if you can trade him for a dead-eye three-point shooter, you pull the trigger. Jason Kapono, would be a good fit.
Thoughts in the comments, as usual. More ideas to come...