The coach is in place. The season of misery led to an improbable, almost miraculous result in the lottery and the number two pick in next month's draft is waiting. Ed Stefanski appears to be secure in his position as general manager for the time being. Certainty should be the word that describes the past week. Feel free to call me a pessimist, but I'm still left with a number of questions. Foremost among them, what does ownership expect from Stefanski and Collins in 2010-2011?
I've heard ownership described as cheap. I've personally speculated that they'd make dropping under the luxury tax this year a priority, and rightfully so, considering last year's results. That was before they opened their coffers to bring Doug Collins in on a four-year contract. That I started reading quotes about quick turnarounds. The investment and the propaganda leaves some doubt in my mind.
The lip service has always been the team is willing to pay the luxury tax for a contender, the thing that's never been explained is what the team considers a contender. There's no doubt in my mind Collins can take this team, with Evan Turner or Derrick Favors added with the number two pick, to the playoffs. Most likely, they'd be a first-round exit. Is that a contender?
Take the logic a step further. If Stefanski, Collins and ownership believe this roster is a first-round exit this season as constructed, do they also believe adding a veteran or two could push them further? Do they all believe they're one or two other moves away from winning a first-round series? If they do, is that a contender in their minds?
Or, do they believe, like I do, that this team will add another solid piece to their young core through this draft, they'll see significant improvement this season, but the work isn't nearly done. This team isn't one veteran away from anything. They're in a unique position where they'll have two of their best players (potentially) on rookie contracts with a couple of years under their belts when Elton Brand comes off the books. They'll be the rare position to be major players in the free agent market, able to possibly coax a max-contract player to Philly to round out the roster before they have to extend Jrue or Turner/Favors.
I'd love to believe I'm on the same page as Sixers management, but there's no evidence to support that. We haven't really heard anything reassuring from Stefanski, mostly likely because he hasn't heard anything reassuring from ownership. So again, I ask, what's the mandate? Have the words "win now," been mentioned to Doug Collins? Does Ed Stefanski have an open checkbook this summer? Would Stefanski be allowed to, or maybe even encouraged to mortgage the future to get a guy he thinks puts them over the top this season?
Or does the four-year deal for Collins signify a more measured approach? Will Stefanski sit down with Collins to take a hard look at the roster and figure out which player(s) they can do without? Will they look to get under the luxury tax, will they take a one-year hit, or will they use their expiring contracts to take back longer money for guys who may fit better?
So many questions, none with answers at this point. We can't even tell you if the Sixers will keep the #2 pick, who they'll take at that spot, whether the pick is going to be a vehicle to rid themselves of Brand's contract and maybe move down. I'd love to hear from someone, anyone about what this franchise is thinking right now. Is it too much to ask for some communication between the ownership and a fan base that just sat through a despicable season about the direction of the team?
I'd love to hear your thoughts. What direction do you expect the team to take? Why have they been silent thus far (don't want to tip their hand, or complete ineptitude)? What could the front office say right now that would make you feel a little bit better?