Teams have been preparing for the Summer of 2010 for two or three years. They've done everything they can to make room -- even if it means giving up valuable assets (See: Bulls giving up the 17th pick to give up Hinrich) -- for a combination of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Some team(s) will hit the jackpot, but others (Knicks) will be left with bare cupboards, bad contracts, and a long road ahead. With so many teams posturing for position and only so many "big names" to go around, franchises are bound to be disappointed.
Unfortunately, or fortunately -- depending on how you look at it -- the Sixers are not one of the teams courting the King and dreaming of teaming him with Wade and Bosh. They're stuck in salary cap hell (AKA Elton Brand's contract) until the Summer of 2013. Let's break down what I think the Sixers should do between now and then, after the jump.
Youth over Success
The Sixers' goal over the next three seasons should be simple: develop their young players. The goal shouldn't be to win 50 games or make the playoffs. If either, or both happen -- as a result Jrue, Turner, Speights and company -- that's fantastic, but in no circumstance should veterans like Willie Green and Andres Nocioni steal minutes from young guys like Lou, Thad and Meeks in an effort to win as many games as possible. The same can be said for playing Brand over Speights and Hawes.
Focusing on the youth serves two purposes. One, it allows the Sixers' brass to evaluate their talent properly and ultimately make educated decisions when rookie contracts come to an end. Two, it gives them a better chance to rack up lottery picks to build around, along with The Villain.
No matter how much the Sixers overachieve and no matter how much Coach Collins milks the talent on this roster, the Sixers aren't winning a championship in the next three years, barring a miracle. Therefore there's no reason to worry about anything other than developing young talent and piecing a legitimate core together for an eventual championship run. You can only gain so much "valuable experience" from losing in the first round.
The Free Agents
Here's a tentative list of the 2013 free agents.
The big names include:
- Josh Smith
- Gerald Wallace
- Stephen Curry (R)
- Blake Griffin (R)
- Andrew Bynum
- Brandon Jennings (R)
- Chris Paul
- Al Jefferson
- Dwight Howard
- Tyreke Evans (R)
- Deron Williams
The Sixers situation
As it stands, the only current Sixers owed money after the 2012 season are Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner, who are scheduled to make 15.9 and ~8 million respectively. The Sixers should also have anywhere from 3-6 rookie contracts on their cap, and at least one of the following signed to an extension: Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Marreese Speights, Lou Williams, Spencer Hawes and Jodie Meeks.
It's impossible to predict what the Sixers roster will look like in three years, but I'm going to give it my best guess, assuming there are no trades.
Andre - 16 million
Turner - 8 million
3 rookies - combined 12 million
Jrue - 9 million
Speights - 6 million
That's 51 million committed to seven players. Depending on the accuracy of my prediction and the rise/fall of the salary cap, the Sixers may not have enough money to sign another "building block" in 2013. Which leads me to my next question ...
What to do with Andre Iguodala?
The Sixers have three options:
- Trade Andre - The Sixers could trade Andre any time during the next three years for a contract that expires before the 2012 season, a draft pick and/or one young player. That would save them anywhere between 5-10 million for the summer of 2013 and they could make a serious run at Bynum or Howard.
- Let Andre walk after the 2013 season - The Sixers could let Andre walk after the 2013 season, sign Turner to an extension and make their run at a free agent in 2014, or later.
- Re-sign Andre after the 2013 season - The Sixers could re-sign a 29 year-old Andre to an extension when his contract expires -- which happens to be the same year Evan Turner becomes a restricted free agent -- and continue to build around Jrue/Turner/Andre + the 2011-13 draft picks.