Heading toward the stretch run of the NBA regular season, the Sixers have little to play for other than pride.
They have a dead weight coach and perhaps even one in the general managers chair as well. The team has little to no direction or certainty of future ventures. If you want to know the truly difficult moments of a professional athletes life, don’t look at playoff matches or close meaningful games. Look no further than the final drawn out days of a hopeless regular season. Where your future lies with tees of the golf course, and not the packed arenas of the post season.
Want to prove worth as a player? Show you can play hard through times like these. Seemingly the Sixers have gotten up for the big games, like ones against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The chance to beat a team that could contend for an NBA title, becomes a title game for a team like the Sixers. I don’t have to tell you want a contest against the Knicks is this time of year. So it’s hard to evaluate talent or heart at this point of the season.
There is no point for Andre Iguodala to go strong to the cup. And what hurt himself? In a meaningless game? No way. You won’t find Elton Brand diving into the first row for a ball headed out of bounds. So where’s the logic in playing them? Only because they make the big bucks. There is no reason why guys like Jodie Meeks and Jason Smith shouldn’t be on the floor.
Direction is a big word used when talking about the Sixers. Whose going to be the new head coach? Well we can hardly speculate, with the GMs job up in the air as well. If Stefanksi were to get fired, which is a real possibility, the Sixers would have to hire a GM before even thinking about getting a new head coach.
Player wise who stays? Who goes?
Well not trading Andre Iguodala before the trade deadline doesn’t meant they won’t this off-season. He’s just a little leverage for Stefanski to keep his job. With the team the way it is, Stefanski can use the argument that they underachieved under Eddie Jordan. That the team does have talent, and it does to a certain degree. This team is full of mediocre to slightly above average players. Good ole’ Ed could reason that a better head coach could make them competitive. Cleaning house before the Deadline would have made Stefanski useless. It’s not easy to find a competent head coaching candidate to take on a rebuilding team. With pieces in place, someone could be convinced. Therefore, Stefanski is preaching the “one more chance” argument, claiming he’ll be able to do more with the team the way it is.
He could be right. A guy like Samuel Dalembert looks a lot more attractive to a team during the off-season, especially one looking for a center. Dalembert’s contract expires after next season, taking a hefty chunk out of any teams payroll. Trading away Elton Brand would be tricky, convincing a team to take on Brand won’t work the same way it almost did with the proposed Dalembert and Iguodala trades. So, don’t look at Brand going anywhere anytime soon.
In the end the Sixers don’t have much chance at getting that far under the cap. Certainly not enough to become a contender for any of the much heralded free agent crop. They are still a season or two away from being able to start rebuilding at any level. It’s bleak, but this is the reality of this team at this point. There is no quick fix, and there usually isn’t in this NBA salary cap world. Time is the only thing that can fix this squad, so they have many more losses ahead.
About the Author
Written by Mike Santa Barbara
Sports writer covering mostly Philadelphia sports for over 10 years. Work has been featured on RealGM.com, GCobb.com and Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia (CSNPhilly.com.)