Good-bye regular season, hello off-season

As the final buzzer sounded in the Sixers 25-point loss, I slammed shut my laptop and tried my best to erase it from my memory as quickly as possible. So many thoughts were running through my head at the time. I could not believe the season was over -- just like that. Andre Miller summed it up best when he said something to the effect of, "it happened so fast" and "it felt like we just got punched in the mouth." That's how I felt, but in the past 48 hours I've done absolutely nothing but relax and play a ton of video games. Great decision on my part. The sights and sounds from Thursday's game are long gone, and I'm amped for what looks to be a busy off-season. Team turmoil is a fun way to start. Let's take a look at game six's aftermath.

All from Philly.com

Iguodala:

Iguodala said, in a formal news conference, that the team had "inner turmoil" and "mental lapses."

"It's going to be a busy summer," said Iguodala on Thursday. "I'm going to sit down with Ed and discuss what I think will get us over the [hump]."

"We'll see about that," [Iguodala] said, when asked whether DiLeo should return. "We'll talk. We'll try to get the best-case scenario."

"I don't think I can say it, but I think we're going down," said swingman Iguodala.

I don't like to hear the phrases "turmoil" or "mental lapses" when describing my favorite team, nor do I like hearing my star player admit that his team is "going down", but I appreciate Andre's honesty. And can anyone argue with him? I hope Stefanski handles this situation correctly.

Miller:

Miller did not attend Friday's season-ending team meeting. After Thursday's loss, he said he would wait to see whom the Sixers select in June's NBA draft before making a decision.

Gun to my head, I bet we've seen the last of Andre Miller. Sign-and-trade please, sign-and-trade please, sign-and-trade please. If Miller walks for nothing, I'll consider it strike one on Stefanski. He had to know there was a good possibility of Miller walking at the deadline, and keeping Miller for the sake of playoff experience is completely illogical. 

Ratliff:

Theo Ratliff did not attend the 76ers final team meeting, scheduled for noon at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

"The coaches are responsible for guys [being] prepared and playing," Ratliff said after the game. "They have to hold guys accountable. It's been that way all year, so you couldn't expect anything different."

"You have to step up and get into guys. If [as the coach] you don't have that type of personality, to be able to go at guys. . . ."

Well, I'm 100 percent sure Theophilus is gone. I won't miss him too much. However; I'm glad Theo called out the coaches. Theo, Miller and Iguodala all called out the coaching staff -- directly or indirectly -- and the message is pretty clear. I love Tony DiLeo, but he needs to return to the front office.

Dalembert:

As the players pulled off their flip-flops and tied their sneakers, all sat together, joking and talking, except Dalembert, who sat about 20 yards away, his headphones on, engrossed not in his team, but in his BlackBerry.

All signs point toward Dalembert playing for another team next season and considering the strained relationship right now between Dalembert, the organization, the fans, that seems to be the best decision for the franchise.

If Dalembert is traded don't expect much. Best case scenario, we get a towel boy and a 2017 second round pick in return.

In the past week or two it seems like we've gone from a hard-working, likable team with a bright future, to a team with a lot of question marks, a lot of finger-pointing and a lot of work to do in the off-season. 

After reading everyone's reaction to the blowout I get the feeling that everyone believes this was a wasted season just because the Sixers only improved their record by one game and still lost in the sixth game of the first round. Not so fast my friend. The team as a whole might have stayed the same, but look no further than the new big two (assuming Miler's gone) for reasons why the season was not a waste.

Thaddeus Young took huge strides. I don't think anyone could have predicted how much "Baby Legs" would have improved this season. He nearly doubled his scoring average. He dominated the month of March. And if not for a severe ankle sprain, the Sixers might still be alive. 

Sure, Thaddeus's disappearance in the playoffs was disappointing, but in a series filled with deja vu, I wouldn't be surprised if his struggles are similar of Andre Iguodala's of last year. Iggy was extremely disappointing last year. Everyone -- including me -- was freaking out that the face of the franchise averaged 13 points on 33 percent shooting. This season Iggy bounced back with 22 points per game, and there's no reason to believe Thad won't do the same next year. Plus, who knows how much his ankle was bothering him.

It's hard not to be excited about Thaddeus's future. He has all the tools to become an offensive force for the Sixers. Yes, he has a lot to work on (ball handling, defense, fast break decisions), but from what I hear, he has an amazing work ethic, and I expect him to put it all together next season. I'd even go as far as saying he has the potential to become an all-star next year. You heard it here first.

Speaking of Andre Iguodala, he quietly had a great season. His jumpshot improved a ton. His defense was incredible. His court vision and rebounding were still amazing. Words and numbers cannot convince you how good Andre really is. You either appreciate his game or you don't. And if you don't, it's a shame. There's only a handful of players I'd rather have leading my team, and no Brandon Roy isn't one of 'em. Shocker.

Iggy game-winner part 1

Iggy game-winner part 2

Iguodala is on the verge of 3-5 elite years, but he can't do it himself. Him and Thaddeus will be a deadly one-two combination, and it's up to Stefanski to build around them.

The last positive from the 2008-2009 season has to be M16, Marresse Speights. He showed flashes of brilliance early in the season, but hit the "rookie wall" head on. With a year under his belt and a full off-season to improve his game, the sky's the limit for the former Flordia Gator. I wouldn't put him in the same category as Iggy and Thad just yet, but it's not out of the question. Work ethic and learning how to play defense is key.

Since this is a fairly positive post I hate to end it with a negative, but Lou Williams really let me down this season. After signing a 5-year, 25 million dollar contract in the off-season he was just one big ball of suck. Stupid shots? He did 'em. Bad defense? Yeah. Jump-pass turnovers? Them too. I've come to the harsh realization that Lou is not the point guard of the future, nor will he ever be a sixth man on a championship team. Ouch.

Say good-bye to the regular season, and hello to the off-season. My ideal summer consists of trading Sammy D and Bill green, acquiring a lights out shooter and drafting the point guard of the future. Oh yeah, and a new coach. Wishful thinking? Probably, but one can dream. 

What's your ideal off-season?

 

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