While everything is sunshine, daisies, and lollipops for these current Sixers, it's never too early to look into the crystal ball to see
your reflection what's next. With the offseason set to be here much quicker than any of us would like, there's a particular Old School Chevy whose future Rod Thorn will have to decide. Elton Brand and his $18 million contract will be expiring after the 2012-13 season and that's a pretty penny to pay a mediocre rebounder with a limited offensive game these days.
Another thing to think about: the Sixers could be big players in the free agent market this offseason. While it's not quite The Summer of 2013 we've been waiting for, there are a number of well-dressed gentlemen that figure to be moved at some point either this season or over the break that could be, shall we say, rather impactful (ahem, Dwight Howard). If the Sixers buy into the idea that the extremely impressive 12 games (only 323 minutes) from Spencer Hawes this season are a sign that he has turned the corner, then Elton is definitely expendable. Hawes would be overmatched defensively against quick 4's but with Thaddeus Young right behind him, they're pretty insured on the liability front.
The Amnesty Clause, for those who aren't familiar, allows a team to essentially waive one player that they signed before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was passed. Teams with room under the salary cap would then be able to bid on said player, and the highest bid would net the player, with the amnestying team (in this case, the Sixers) paying the rest of the player's salary. It's basically a Get Out of Jail Free card for loaded contracts offered to teams who are looking for abortions on previously doled out monies.
While Elton certainly isn't the player he was back in his Clipper days, he's extremely valuable to this team, especially considering how thin/injured they are up front. He'd also have a fair amount of value on the bidding market. Amnestying him would certainly not tickle Doug Collins, a guy who fights for the value of his players, even when they aren't particularly valuable (see: Battie, Tony). But if a big signing is on the horizon, it's doubtful that Collins would object to it.
The other option is the Sixers could use Brand's fat expiring to attract teams looking to shed salary, picking up an expensive, big time piece that's not on the free agent market. Guys like Pau Gasol, David Lee, Emeka Okafor, and, natch, Amare Stoudemire come to mind. There's a lot the Sixers can do with the flexibility of Elton's expiring, I'm just worried that they'll let his value lapse by being indecisive due to any loyalties to Brand they may harbor.