The Sixers have been improving as the season has progressed. With the deadline just hours away, will they be buyers or sellers?
I remember during my first year playing in the D-League, we were on a road trip in Asheville, N.C. The trade deadline was vastly approaching and my mind was racing. I was not sure if I would be traded or (gulp) released. I was playing with my brother at the time and did not want to be separated. (The Owens brothers, Price brothers and Van Arsdale brothers...The answer to the trivia question, name the three sets of brothers who have played professional basketball on the same team? I don't know the validity to this question, but the gentleman from the NBA league office swore it to be fact. I was told to use it at a party to break the ice. I told him, when you are as tall and handsome as I am, the ice breaks itself.)
Anyway, the entire road trip prior to the game I was a nervous wreck. It did not help that I played limited minutes that evening. I walked out of the arena that night convinced I played my last game for the Roanoke Dazzle.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I want you to understand the mindset of an athlete as the deadline draws near. Some players are ecstatic by the prospects of moving to a different team, while others, like myself, dread it.
You never know how a trade will affect a team. When a friend or a player you looked up to is suddenly traded away it leaves a little pit in your stomach. The guys that make up the roster become more than just teammates.
"Those guys are like brothers to me," Hawks forward Josh Smith said after Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford and Maurice Evans were traded to Washington last night. "At the same time, we know this is a business. These things happen. The guys at the top felt like a change needed to be made."
John Wall also felt the sting of losing a role-model during the same trade.
"It was a pretty tough thing to hear," Wall said. "Kirk's a veteran guy who taught me an awful lot about NBA basketball. I'll really miss him. And Hilton was a good friend, too. I wish them both well."
Now that I am no longer on the receiving end of these stresses, I have begun to think more like a fan and less like a player. I try not to let the emotional aspect of being an ex-player have an effect on how I analyze basketball...Especially when it comes to the questions surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers.
As you know the trade or trade-not argument has been the subject of every 76ers story over the past few weeks. Some fans want a move, any move, to stay competitive in the now stacked Atlantic Division, while some fans want to see how this season plays out with the current roster.
With just a few hours remaining before the NBA trade deadline, it seems the Sixers may be content with the latter.
If a deadline deal does occur, the only essential player I would feel comfortable giving away would be Thaddeus Young. Not because I don't think he is a tremendous asset for this team, but because he will be demanding more money than the Sixers are capable of paying a 7th man at the end of the season. It is better to get something in return, rather than let him walk in July.
The money is locked up in the contracts of Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand. I know Ed Stefanski is sitting in his office right now giving a "my bad" to Ed Snider and the rest of the Comcast brain trust, while the Sixers watch...handcuffed...as superstars flock east.
Iguodala and Brand are due to make a combined $26 million this season. Recently these two have been playing exceptional basketball. However, it is becoming more and more apparent that they are two great role players making star money.
Doc Rivers recently stated, "I think when you watch Andre Iguodala now, he is the star of the team and their best role player at the same time. I don't think he would have done that last year or years past, but he does it. He has bought into Doug completely and it shows in his play. Doug Collins has changed their culture."
I agree with Doc to an extent. Iguodala has definitely shown the ability to be a star while also getting other players involved. But the issue is still his massive contract. Whether he is used primarily as a role player or a star he is owed $54 million over the next four seasons.
If he was making $30 million to $35 million during that stretch fans would be laying down under his car to prevent him from leaving. However, he is not, and therefore the fans are not.
The fans instead have been demanding a trade. Because of the massive contract trading Iguodala has proven to be nearly impossible. There are not many teams that need a player like himself for a title run, which also have the cap space required to absorb his salary.
Maybe it is a blessing in disguise. Under Collins this team seems to be firing on all cylinders. If the future is still 3-4 seasons away, why not let our young guys develop in an atmosphere synonymous with winning? Case and point, last night's game against the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards have the consensus number one pick on their roster. However, over the course of the season John Wall has regressed. He is still putting up good stats, but the Wizards seem to be getting worse. In three years would you rather have John Wall and Nick Young or Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday? Now wait...Before you freak out, realize that the Sixers could have three seasons of playoff experience by that time.
Last night the Sixers stuck around in the locker room to watch the second half of the Knicks/Bucks game. Why? Because they are in a playoff race. You have a group, consisting mostly of guys in their early twenties, gaining valuable experience.
As the trade deadline creeps to within a few hours, the Sixers look to be moving forward with the team they have. Whether or not this is a good decision is yet to be known, but judging by their play over the last few months, I remain positive. Why break up a good thing?