As the season unfolded I became more and more steadfast in my support of Andre Iguodala. His game evolved, he led this young group of players through a magical run, even putting the team on his back when needed. He sank game-winners and never shied away from a challenge.
Looking back now, with the Detroit series behind us, it's easier to have an unemotional take on things. Obviously, that's what will be needed going forward. The fact of the matter is that I truly believe Thad Young will be a better player than Iguodala. That fact leaves the Sixers in a tough spot.
Up until this point, I think my bias toward home-grown guys has blinded me to an extent. We've all watched this guy grow up as a Sixer and go from a bit player to a star. The problem is the larger picture. I've said all along that I think Andre can move to the two guard. I still think that, but I'm not 100% sure (probably more like 60% at this point). This leaves us in a pickle, and it couldn't come at a worse time.
With Iguodala's restricted free agency upon us, we're looking at the very real possibility of the Sixers spending $60M+ on a project that may fail. Thad is the future at SF. Signing Iguodala means he either adjusts his game to the two guard or Thad will be playing out of position for the first several years of his career. Neither is a favorable situation.
Add in the fact that while Andre may not fit in with the Sixers, just letting him walk for nothing is not an option. He's way too good for that.
Those are all of the problems I could come up with, so now let's try to find a solution after the jump.
By far, the best solution is to have Iguodala sign his qualifying offer for $3,800,625. The first benefit is added cap space this Summer. Iguodala's cap hold number (this is the amount counted against the Sixers' cap until he either signs his qualifying offer, signs an offer sheet from another team, or signs a new contract with the Sixers) is $7,012,223 by my math. (250% of his '07-'08 salary). So by signing his qualify offer the Sixers would immediately add $3,211,598 to their cap space. They'd also buy themselves a year. They could spend this season experimenting with him at the two guard.
If the experiment works out, the Sixers can outbid anyone and go over the cap to do it to sign him as a free agent next Summer. If it doesn't work out, well then at least they know. They can try to sign and trade him, or they can let him go. He'll be an unrestricted free agent. This would give the Sixers more cap room to improve the team in the short term, and a full year to evaluate Iguodala at a new position before deciding if it makes sense to give him a lucrative deal. This could backfire, obviously. If Iguodala turns himself into a viable threat from three he could earn a max deal that he hasn't up to this point, but I think it's worth the risk.
Option number two is a sign and trade this Summer. Let me start by saying this can't be your typical lopsided sign and trade deal. There has to be a threshold for what you to get back in a deal which sends Iguodala out of town. It's hard to come up with the names on this list, but you have to think about superstar caliber players whose teams either (a) are loathe to pay the luxury tax, (b) are realizing they need to make changes to the way they play the game or (c) both A and B. A few names that come to mind are Amare Stoudemire (owed $49M over the next 3 seasons on a team that does everything and anything to avoid the luxury tax and has to realize their window has closed), Tracy McGrady (not my first choice, but a true #1 scorer at the shooting guard position. Adding him wouldn't help much in the 3pt category, though), Jose Calderon (which would then allow the Sixers to move Andre Miller in a deal for Elton Brand or another low-post threat.)
It's a short list. Which brings me to option number three. Pay Iguodala. What's the worst-case scenario here? Or should I say, who is the worst-case, my mind keeps wandering to Lamar Odom. Miami paid him too much money and hoped he'd become a number one scoring option. He never did, but when the opportunity arose to land a once-in-a-lifetime talent and make a run at the finals, Odom was the main chip in the deal. Odom is a tweener, just like Iguodala, size-wise. Even if Iguodala never makes the transition to the two guard, he'll always be a valuable trading chip down the road. If you can't accomplish either of the first two option, then this is fine. You can't just let a guy with this much talent walk.