Ball's over, Cinderella. Sixers no longer Be Crazy. It was great fun, but it was just one of those things.
So. The magical, highly unlikely, and wildly entertaining playoff run is over. Did we really learn anything? Do we know who our team is? Are they the iron-tough, gritty, never-say-die bunch of scrappers who knocked off the Bulls and gave the Celtics all they could possibly ask for? Are they the sort of pathetic bunch of disinterested shufflers we saw the second half of the season? Are they the dominating machine that buzzsawed through the NBA in the first half of the season?
I think we know the answer: None of the above. They had an identity, lost it, found another one. The fact is, we don't know what this team is. We don't know what it could be. We don't know who will be on the roster.
OK. We all know that a number of our current faves are available to leave. Who's going to be here, who's going to be elsewhere, who's going to be playing in the Guatemalan Second Division (hint: He's tall, he's soft, and he's been associated with erectile dysfunction)?
Look...this team is hurting for talent in a major way. One go-to scorer could have tipped the balance in the Boston series. That player does not exist on this roster at this time. A rugged post defender/rebounder/shotblocker who can bang down low would have been major. That player also does not exist on this roster. And (I'm going to say it) a real, cerebral, composed, steady pass-first point guard could have made a huge difference. And that player does not exist on this roster. A reliable shooting guard that can actually hit a jump shot would be wonderful indeed. Once again...you know the rest.
Since we don't have any of those players on the roster, what do we have? What should we have from among the guys we do have come October?
Guards: Jrue, Turner, BOSS, Meeks, Silas
Who's Staying: Jrue, Turner.
Who's Probably Leaving: Meeks, Silas.
Who's Up in the Air: BOSS
This was supposed to be their strength. Each of the major guys has had their moments this season, and during this playoff run. Each of these guys also had stretches when they sucked rocks. Our Saviour, Evan Turner, the #2 overall BUST!!!!, can't seem to decide whether he's awesome or horrible. Sometimes even in the same game. There have been some positive developments in his game. He has moments where you say "NOW I get it!" And there are moments you want to reach through the screen of your TV and grab him and shake him until he learns to consistently focus his considerable talents. Jrue was similar, but he seems to have less expectations surrounding him (he was, after all, only a 17th pick), and more positive moments, as befits someone with more experience. But he disappeared for long stretches, suffered from baffling shot selection most of the season, and sometimes didn't play a very pointy point guard ("Keep shooting, Jrue!" - The Dougy).
Silas is a warm body for the end of the bench, and Meeks? I know the Dougy loves him for some reason, but our "designated shooter" didn't shoot especially well for huge chunks of the season, and went from starter to out of the playoff rotation. I don't hate Meeks, he has his moments, and for what he makes, I'd take him back on a two-year deal at a relatively similar salary, or I'd let him go and shed not a tear. Either way is good with me, and a guy who does nothing but shoot threes can be found equally cheaply, so, like, whatever.
That leaves us with Tha BOSS. My feelings about Tha BOSS are beyond well-documented. I think he is the root of all evil (and I'm talking really evil, like e-ville, like the frew-its of the dev-ille), he is my least favorite kind of player (the remorseless volume chucker with crappy shot selection, no defense whatsoever, no real 'second skill' like, say, passing, and and unjustifiably enormous usage rate), and I believe he takes significantly more off the table than he brings to it. He also has his BOSSCON moments where his horrible shots inexplicably keep going in, and he's saved a few games that way, but on a mediocre team, that's a luxury they can't afford. Now, I had assumed, like most of us, that when he said he was definitely opting out of his contract, he was more or less out of here, but last night it sounded a lot like he was hedging and really wanted to stay. Obviously, I hope he doesn't. I hope he either finds his way to a good team where a SUPERDIDOOPERSTAR!!! can put the reins on him and get the right use out of him, or to a really crappy team where he can play Monta Ellis-type Alpha-shooter to his heart's content. Of course, he'll be staying, just to drive me insane.
Forwards: Dre, Thad, Big Chevy, Kraken, Lavoy, Spam Young
Who's Staying: Thad
Who's Leaving: Dre, Kraken, Spam
Who's Up in the Air: Big Chevy, Lavoy
Dre has been my favorite player on my favorite team for years, now. I love his all-around game, his unselfishness, his professionalism and class in the face of massive fan Hateraid (with a side of Hatertots), his defense, his passing, his highlight-reel dunks. I wonder why he's forgotten how to shoot free throws, and wish he did more catch-and-shoot shooting and less off-the-dribble shooting. We all know that he's been woefully miscast as the star of the team, when it's painfully clear he's best suited to be a #2 guy to a SUPERDIDOOPERSTAR!!! We don't have that SUPERDIDOOPERSTAR!!! Dre is also pretty much the only player on the roster with the combination of contract dollars, visibility, useful skills, and reputation to bring back anything even halfway decent in a trade.
As much as it makes me sad, it's time to say goodbye to Dre. If, and only if, a trade brings back some potential building blocks. I am not on the "just make him go away already" train. I want value. And when I mean value, I don't mean the corpse of Pau Gasol (or, as I like to call him, SuperHawes!). I mean young talent and draft pick(s), and hopefully without taking on a cap-crippling contract in return. Of course, they're going to trade him for 20 cents on the dollar, take back the worst possible contract, and get a player who is of no real use, no picks, and no cap relief. 'Cos that's just how we roll here in the PHL.
I also am a Big Admirer of the Big Chevy. As one of our regulars (KB, I think) said last night, "He didn't give us the bang for his buck, but he brought it every night." Which, in this clown car full of misfit toys, is really saying something. The Dougy is right. Elton is the Pro's Pro, and he left whatever he had on any given day all out on the floor.
He's gonna get amnestied, people. Get used to the idea. In a perfect world, he would re-sign for a lot less, but I don't think that's gonna happen. I'm gonna miss him. Happy Trails, Big Chevy, and may the wind always be at your back.
Thad is Thad. He has his moments, like all the Sixers' younger players, and there have been times when he was the best player on the court for them. And there have been times when he completely disappeared. He does what he does: he turns Garbage into Gold. This is who he is, this is who he will be. Great kid, great attitude, great hustle, great energy, great awkward smoothness, great athleticism, fair talent. He just got a pretty reasonable new contract, and he's a Dougy Favorite, so I expect he isn't going anywhere unless his being included brings back something special.
Kraken, we hardly knew thee. Enjoy the D-League. Spam Young, we didn't know thee at all, pretty much. Laterz.
What can we say about Lavoy Allen that we haven't already said? He stood tall this postseason, mostly in comparison with the Other Guy to whom he was the alternative. For the guy picked to be The Worst Player in the NBA, he was really solid. He is another guy who is what he is, a tough defender who can grab boards and hit an open jumper on the pick-and-pop. He's not a starter on a good NBA team, although I think he's a solid bench big who is capable of meaningful minutes. He's also a totally class dude, as we saw in his recent interview. Not at all bad for the 50th pick (and a horrifically panned pick at that, including by me. I own that). Keep Representin', Voy Wonder. I think they find a way to re-sign him, unless someone is seriously willing to overpay. He's become a Dougy Favorite, and that's a big deal, I think, when it comes to retention as an RFA. And deservedly so. And if he does come back, as I hope and believe he will, I am totally rockin' the 50 next season, jersey-wise!
Centers: Hawes, Nik, Battie
Who's Staying: Nik
Who's Leaving: Battie, probably to be re-signed right before the season, as usual.
Who's Up in the Air: HIM
Ah, the Jekyll-and-Hyde tale of Wight Howard/E.D. Hades, this is the story of the center position this season. Early this season, he fed on a burst of contract-year adrenaline, an offseason spent working out with Reign Man, and an unsustainable shooting percentage on long twos to become the celebrated Wight Howard, the guy who was finally going to lock down our center position for a long time to come. Then, an injury, and the question was "When is Hawes coming back to save us?" The injury dragged on, and some of the more thoughtful of us asked "Is he going to be the same Wight as he was before the injury?"
Our questions were all answered. We got the Other Guy, the Mr. Hyde of E.D.Hades to his Dr. Jekyll of Wight Howard. Horrifically, even comically soft. Constitutionally unable to box out or otherwise contest a rebound. Terrible shot selection of long twos. No defense whatsoever. A marked propensity to stand around looking lost and confused. No, he wasn't the only thing wrong with this team by a long shot, but he was the most infuriating (narrowly edging the steady diet of ill-conceived BOSS ISOs at the end of quarters and the maddening, getting-a-limpy-three-seconds-before-orgasm inconsistency of Evan Turner).
I think he's worn out The Dougy's patience. He's a goner. And I think he knows it. Enjoy playing in Guatemala, bozo. Don't let the departure gate hit you in the ass on the way out, and don't forget to get your vaccinations. See you never.
Battie is Battie. A Veteran Presence to fill out the roster, keep the end of the bench warm, and help in the locker room. We all know he'll be re-signed right before training camp, so why fight it? He isn't hurting anyone, and there are many moments in this particular postseason where I would have preferred him to Hawes, just because he's willing to put a body on someone.
Nik, Nik, Nik, Nik, Nik. Such high hopes we had for you early on, when you looked like a player. Then everyone found out you were soft, and that was pretty much the end of you. Hit the gym, toughen up, stop being a wuss. You have some talent. We all saw it. You have some solid skills. You can play basketball. All anyone asks is that you play it like a man. You can do it. I believe in you. Don't make a fool of me.
Welp. That's my roster wrapup for the season. The screaming you'll hear is when they re-sign BOSS to a huge six-year extension. The strangling you'll hear is when they re-sign Hawes to any contract whatsoever.
Tune in soon for my shameless touting of specific draft prospects that they will never, ever pick. I need to spend some time talking to Derek and reading DX to get a feel for who I really want them to draft yet. Unless Henson somehow falls to 15. Then they need to pick his scrawny ass. And feed that kid a cheeseburger!
Until then, Get the Hell Off My Lawn Before I Call the Cops!!
Love and kisses,