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Smoke and Mirrors

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6-4 in their last ten games. Better rotations, better effort, better defense. We've seen all of this and we've even seen a couple of halfway decent games out of the Sixers. As a fan who watches every game, these past ten have definitely been much easier on the eyes, but as a fan who tries to keep his eye on the long-term prize, this stretch of decent play is a mixed bag, at best.

ItAintEZ really hit the nail on the head with his comment yesterday:

This season is starting to remind me of the season when ES got hired part way into the year. We where playing bad and he told Cheeks to play the young guys and look to run, Mo was on the last year of his deal so probably figured I better listen to the new guy if I want an extension.

Now Stefanski tells Jordan to tighten up the rotations and start emphasising defense. In both cases it helped the teams record. The problem is that once the coach starts to feel secure in his job he goes right back to doing it his way. This got Cheeks fired and will eventually get EJ fired but unfortunatly some short term success may buy him some time at the expense of our teams development.

This is exactly what I believe is happening with this team, and I think the problem is growing by the day. Forget about the play on the floor and the composition of the roster for a minute. Clear that stuff from your mind and only think about everything we've seen and heard from Eddie Jordan since he took over as the Sixers head coach back in June. Now honestly answer this question for me: Do you think Eddie Jordan is capable of coaching a contending team? Meaning, is he capable of taking a team to the conference finals or further?

I don't see how anyone could honestly answer yes to that question. The only other thing you possibly look to a coach for is developing a roster. Maybe you know your head coach isn't the type of tactician capable of getting the most out of his roster, but he's a teacher. The type of guy who's going to get your roster to the point where someone else can then take over and lead them deep into the playoffs. Unfortunately, Eddie Jordan isn't that guy either.

Essentially, we're moving backwards as long as he's here, which brings us full circle to the situation we find ourselves in 39 games into the season. Ed Stefanski has laid down the law, Eddie Jordan has decided it's in his best interests to go against his nature and the result is more wins. It's unlikely, but possible that this team could actually make the playoffs. If they play .500 ball the rest of the way we're talking about a 35-47 record. I believe that would be the worst record ever to make the playoffs (I only went back to 1997 in my quick search, and in that time 2 teams with 36 wins made it). The schedule is actually pretty soft the rest of the way for the Sixers, though.

So let's say accumulate a record of 23-18 (they were 22-21 from this point on last season, 25-18 the season before). And let's think about how Eddie Jordan gets us there. 35+ minutes a night for Allen Iverson, and an eight-man rotation that looks like this:

  • Sam Dalembert
  • Thad Young (mostly at the 4)
  • Andre Iguodala (mostly at the 3)
  • Lou Williams
  • Allen Iverson
  • Elton Brand
  • Marreese Speights
  • Willie Green
With Jrue Holiday, Rodney Carney and Jason Kapono filling in the leftover minutes depending on Jordan's whim. Then we get to the playoffs and face either Boston, Cleveland or Orlando in the first round and get pasted. Where does that leave us going forward?

Simple. It leaves us with a middling draft pick, a mismatched roster one year further down the wrong road, over the luxury tax with Eddie Jordan still firmly entrenched as our head coach because he "righted the ship" in 09-10. In short, it leaves us worse off than we were last summer, much worse.

Take it a step further and Stefanski is forced to do something to get under the luxury tax, maybe a couple moves are made to bring in Eddie Jordan's type of players (jump shooters who don't defend) and then we watch the team struggle again until either Stefanski steps in again or Jordan is finally fired (probably both Stefanski and Jordan would be fired at that point). Meanwhile, we're getting dangerously close to the point where we need to make a decision on Thad's contract, Jrue has lost a ton of minutes and the needs of the team really aren't clear because we've had a coach and general manager more concerned for their jobs than the long-term development of their young roster.

I'm going to do my best to put this stuff out of my mind as I watch the Sixers, but it's difficult. I feel like it's an untenable situation, hating to see your team lose, loving to see the guys on the team elated by a hard-fought win, but cognizant of the cost of these wins.

As much as I love playoff basketball. As much as I loved watching Iguodala hit a game-winner in Orlando last year, and as much as I think those playoff minutes are so valuable for young players, how can I really root for it when I can see how the script is going to play out if they do extend this run?

If Ed Stefanski is concerned for anything more than his own job, he'll put an end to this charade. If you have an employee you need to micromanage to this level, it's time to get rid of that employee. If he really can't fire Jordan, then stop beating around the bush. The edict shouldn't be to win at all costs, the edict should be to play the right players, at the right positions, play the right way (sorry Larry Brown haters) and let the chips fall as they may.
by Brian on Jan 17 2010
Tags: Basketball | Eddie Jordan | Sixers |