Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Should the 76ers consider signing Dwight Howard?

I posted this article on earlier today and it has generated a decent debate thus far. Check out the original article here.

"After the disaster that this season developed into for Dwight Howard in Los Angeles, many are questioning if we have seen Dwight’s last days as a Laker. 

Howard is a free agent this summer, and despite a subpar season plagued by injury issues and questions about his mental makeup, he will have several suitors. 

Dwight’s dominance during his days in Orlando, although largely based on his sheer size and ability to out-muscle the majority, has elevated him to most sought-after center in the league status. 

That he has done little to improve or expand his game in his nine NBA seasons gets swept under the rug, as does the fact that he continues to behave like a troubled teen off of the court, in favor of his prowess in the paint. There is a lack of premier post players in the league, so Dwight’s antics are accepted and ignored, muted by post production.

The timing is interesting however, with Howard hitting the market this summer, just as the 76ers will be in the midst of a center search. The franchise thought they landed the foundation of the future when they signed the league’s consensus second-best center, Andrew Bynum last summer. 

Photo from:
Injury issues and maybe a slight dearth of dedication prevented Andrew from seeing a single second of action this season, and his abhorrent attitude throughout the process has Philly faithful praying he is shipped out of town as soon as possible. 

Although the Bynum move was a bust, the logic behind it; building an athletic, versatile team around a dominant post player, was sound, and could be repeated successfully; that is, if the team is willing to put up with another self-centered center.

Despite the distraction he has developed into, technically Dwight as a Sixer would make sense.
Pairing Howard with an athletic, all-star point guard like Jrue Holiday could work to bring out the best in both of them. It would provide Holiday with a legitimate low-post option and open up the rest of the court for him to operate. Jrue was able to noticeably improve his assist numbers this past season while serving as the team’s central scoring option. Imagine what kind of damage he could do with a prominent post player sharing the scoring load.

Dwight often demands a double team, which would allow athletic wing players like Evan Turner and Thad Young to play off of him, consistently finding less-contested shots. Ideally, Dwight’s dominant presence in the post would open things up for everyone else on the court and allow the offense to flow more fluently; an enormous issue for the team this season. This is the type of formula that was followed by Orlando during their 2009 Finals run.

Howard would solidify the Sixers on the other end of the court also. Dwight’s defense, which has earned him three NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards, speaks for itself. 

From an on-court perspective, trying to sign Howard seems to make sense for the Sixers. If the Sixers had Howard in hand, it would immediately give them an advantage over many of the teams in the East without an adequate answer for his post presence, and would almost certainly put them back in the playoff picture. 

Such a signing seems sensible from Dwight’s side as well. Howard thrived while being the main option in Orlando, but struggled this season embracing a role as a secondary scorer. In Philadelphia, Dwight would serve as an anchor to the offense with a plethora of plays running directly through him.
Also, Dwight didn’t seem to appreciate the pressure that came with playing for the purple and gold, as the championship expectations weighed heavy on his already aching back. It is safe to assume that the Sixers organization has a slightly different aim for the immediate future than the Finals-frequenting Lakers, and pulling Philly back into the playoff picture may not seem as daunting to Dwight as spearheading another Laker dynasty. 

Signing with a franchise such as the Sixers, where he would become the focal point but not be immediately expected to take the team to a title, seems to be an ideal situation for Dwight. 

If interested however, the 76ers need to approach Howard with caution. He is known for keeping teams hostage while waffling about where and how his services should be best spent, and he does not necessarily seem to ingratiate himself with his coaches or teammates. 

However, at least he plays, and usually produces, which is more than the Sixers could say about last summer’s center signing."

Friday, April 26, 2013

LeBron James says coming in second in DPOY voting to Marc Gasol "sucks"

LeBron James was not too happy about coming in second to Marc Gasol in this season’s Defensive Player of the Year voting, and he shouldn’t be.

“It sucks,” James stated simply. 

Gasol had a solid season, and served as the anchor on a very good defensive unit. However his season stats of 7.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game were underwhelming, and considering his defensive prowess is largely limited to patrolling the paint, it seems like Lebron’s versatility would have made him a more sound selection. 

"I guard everybody on the floor.  "I don't know if it's one player in NBA history that's guarded point guards through centers. “

LeBron’s versatility argument is extremely valid. 

While Gasol was mainly tasked with sticking the opposing center and protecting the paint, which he did well, LeBron could be called upon to shut down the other team’s best player, whether that be perimeter or post. 

So basically LeBron needs the physical strength to bang down low with the League’s bigger bodies, but also the explosiveness and fast feet in order to stay in front of the premier perimeter players. 

“I have to know all the likes and dislikes, pros and cons, of each and every player in this league because at some point, I'm going to be matched up with them. It's a challenge for me mentally and physically."

Gasol, for all his ability to alter shots and grab rebounds, cannot smoothly switch off onto another player should such a situation present itself, as he would get quickly embarrassed trying to stay in front of a Brandon Jennings. 

Gasol’s recognition is justified, but LeBron has developed into the League’s best all-around defensive player, and deserves the hardwood to go along with it. 

LeBron won’t have to wait too long to add another trophy to his cased collection however, as he should be receiving his 4th MVP award in the near futu

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kobe Bryant took his rap career more seriously than we suspected

At this point in time, most people roll their eyes when they hear about an athlete or an entertainer moonlighting as a rapper. 

We’ve seen the shtick before and the output has been largely underwhelming. 

Shaq actually had some successful and somewhat decent songs back in the day (Shaq Diesel anyone?), but the list is short.

I got money, girls, clothes, and cars, and I’m better than you at basketball.’ Okay, we get it.

Thus many of our favorite athlete’s forays into the rap game go largely ignored or unnoticed.
Allen Iverson, Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, and Ron Artest are among those who have released microphone material to little fanfare, and rap-addicted superstar Kevin Durant seems determined to add his name to the list.. 

Since many of these athletes share a similar background with rap artists, live a version of the hip-hop lifestyle, and have the means to make their own music, it is not surprising to see them give it a go.
It is more surprising when an athlete is praised for his abilities on a microphone, and it becomes especially surprising when that athlete is superstar Kobe Bryant. 

Kobe doesn’t speak much of his rap roots these days, but an article that ran recently on Grantland written by Thomas Golianopoulos explores Kobe’s history with hip-hop, and illustrates that at one point, Kobe took his rap career very seriously. 
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When he wasn't playing ball, he was recording at the Hit Factory with late-'90s producers par excellence the Trackmasters and their stable of artists, which included Nas, Noreaga, Punch and Words, Nature, and a young scrapper named 50 Cent. Bryant lived it up in New York. He routinely went clubbing with [hip-hop record executive] Steve Stoute and dined at Mr. Chow, the Chinese restaurant favored by the nouveau riche.”

It sounds like hip-hop was more than a hobby, and by others’ accounts, it was something Kobe had a natural knack for. 

"Kobe was nice, man. He was lyrical,” testified an old associate of the superstar. 

"Kobe had a quality of lyrics. When he got into the cipher, you didn't look at him as just Kobe. You looked at him as a dude that could rhyme and if you sleep on him, you could get embarrassed,” added hip-hop artist, Words, who battled Bryant back in the day. 

No, Kobe probably was not going to be the next Nas, but it sounds like he at least had some skill. 

Grantland’s excellent and in-depth article goes on to explain that an oversaturation of athlete/artist crossovers hurt Kobe’s cause, and by the time he was trying to break into music’s mainstream people simply didn’t want to hear a rapping basketball player.

The article even cited Shaq’s success, and following flame-out in the music business as one possibly reason why Bryant was never able to fully launch his rap career. 

The article also points out that record labels were not interested in an intellectual athlete/rapper, but rather something more relatable to the mainstream. They wanted a shiny, simple version of Kobe the rapper to offer to the audience, and like other underground rappers who try to make it big, Kobe struggled with the transition.  

So for good or for bad, Kobe the rap star never came to be. It is safe to assume however that Bryant still has a strong appreciation of the craft, and at a point in past, he approached rap with the same competitive drive that has made him a legend with the Lakers.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

76ers could consider make one of the Suns ex-GM's their own

This morning a few of the scribes over at Philadunkia took a stab at naming who they think might make a good GM option for the 76ers this summer. 

Many feel that Tony DiLeo is not the man for the job, leaving us to ponder other options. Check out the full rundown here, while my excerpt, suggesting that the Sixers look at one of the Suns former general managers, is quoted below.

"This summer the Sixers could follow in the Phoenix footsteps and make one of the Suns’ former GM’s their own. 

Rumors are circulating that Bryan Colangelo, the man who built the mid-2000’s Suns, may be out of the Raptors front office this summer. Aside from his success with the Suns, Colangelo was named 2007 NBA Executive of the Year with Toronto, and was able to make moves to improve the franchise going forward, including trading for Rudy Gay this past season. Colangelo’s basketball IQ and ability to pair players together would be extremely beneficial to the 76ers, as the organizations owners are not known for their basketball knowledge. 

If Colangelo is unavailable then his successor with the Suns, Steve Kerr, would be an alternative option. Kerr, who continued Colangelo’s run of success with the Suns, showed during his brief stint as GM that he was unafraid to make the big, albeit questionable, moves. He, like Colangelo, has a high level of basketball intelligence and may be able to help fortify the franchise."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

If only the 76ers drafted differently

Originally published on A dude can dream:

"Hindsight is 20/20 and it is often very difficult to predict the NBA potential of college players. It is much easier to look back and nitpick past picks, saying that a team should have taken so-and-so here instead of the player that was actually selected.

However after the 76ers’ struggles this season and the lack of a clear foundation moving forward, it seems only right to take a minute to lament what the team could look like had some recent picks been used differently.

Looking back on the past half-decade of drafts, it seems that if the Sixers had gone in a different direction with some of their picks they could currently be a young, athletic, and extremely talented team void of the identity issues currently faced by the franchise.
Starting back with the 2008 NBA Draft, the Sixers made a string of picks that could, and probably should be second-guessed.

In that 2008 draft, the 76ers used the 16th pick to select Marreese Speights; a perennial role player, who came off of the bench for the Sixers for a couple seasons before being shipped out of town.
At this point, Speights is an NBA afterthought, making this pick especially hard to swallow because of who was passed over in his favor.

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Roy Hibbert, who has developed into an all-star center for Indiana, was picked directly behind Speights, while Deandre Jordan, an important part and the literal centerpiece to the Clippers’ exciting resurgence, slipped all the way to the second round.

Productive post players are hard to come by, and both of these guys are solid starting centers on teams hoping to make a deep playoff push, and obviously either would be an enormous upgrade over the Sixers’ current center situation.

It is difficult to find fault with the team’s pick in the 2009 draft, as they used their mid-round selection on Jrue Holiday, who has developed into an all-star while playing point for the 7-6. Ty Lawson was an available option, who I was actually in favor of at the time, as I had questions about Jrue’s ability to run an offense.  Holiday’s versatility and development has been impressive however, and it is safe to say that the Sixers made a sound selection.

The 2010 draft saw the franchise falter again though, as the spent the second overall pick on the inconsistent and emotional Evan Turner. Turner is a good basketball player and has had some really impressive moments as a 76er, but shooting struggles and on-court inconsistencies have caused his name to constantly come up in trade rumors. The Sixers aren’t sold on Turner for the long-term, and his future with the organization is still uncertain.

Selected after Turner with the tenth overall pick was budding superstar Paul George, who like Jrue Holiday, made his first all-star appearance this season. George is an explosive and athletic two-way perimeter player, who is developing into a go-to scorer, which is exactly what the Sixers have been searching for. Thus, it is frustrating to watch George flourish, while Turner remains a permanent piece on the trade block. Looking back, Paul George would have been a much better fit for the franchise.

The 2011 draft came, and once again a mistake was made, although the overlook isn’t quite as obvious because of the talent dearth in the draft. In 2011 the Sixers used the 16th selection on Nikola Vučević, who is developing into a nice player.. in Orlando. The Sixers got very little value out of Vučević before he was shipped south in the Bynum debacle last summer.

Selected six picks after Vučević was Kenneth Faried, who is being hailed as the second coming of Dennis Rodman out in Denver. Faried is ferocious, just the hard-nosed, go-get-it, type of player every team loves to have, and that the Sixers have been lacking since their last trip to the Finals. He could have played a very important role for the franchise going forward.

If the Sixers had actually selected as suggested, their current starting lineup could consist of Jrue Holiday, Roy Hibbert, and Paul George, all all-stars, as well as the fierce Faried cleaning the glass. This would be a young, athletic and well-balanced unit on both sides of the ball, and it is safe to say that such a lineup would garner playoff positioning.

Obviously it is easier to dissect a draft after the players have already had a couple seasons to show their stuff. However, it is still unfortunate, especially considering the state of the franchise, that the Sixers missed out on several budding stars, and instead have little to show for the past half-decade of drafts."

Friday, April 19, 2013

Did Jazz fans poison Michael Jordan before famous flu game?

The NBA’s Western Conference is breathing a collective sigh of relief today, as the Utah Jazz were officially eliminated from playoff contention after Wednesday evening’s loss. 

The West’s playoff participants weren’t especially worried about what the middling Jazz would do to them on the court, but rather what their fans might do to them off of the court, in light of a recent report involving Michael Jordan’s famous flu game. 

Michael’s performance that game, scoring 38 points and leading the Bulls to a 3-2 Finals lead despite being barely able to get out of bed, is widely considered one of the gutsiest performances of all time, and represents a legendary moment  in Michael’s long list of memories. 

However, a recent revelation from Jordan’s long-time trainer, Tim Grover, reveals that it may not have been the flu at all that was afflicting Michael on Finals Game 5 in 1997, but rather something less natural. 

‘He was poisoned for the flu game,” Grover stated in his recent book release, Relentless, “100%.”
Grover goes on to explain that the night before the game, Michael became hungry after room service had already stopped, and had to order a pizza, as there were no other available options. 

“We had been in that hotel for a while, so everybody knew what hotel [Michael was in]. Park City didn’t have many hotels back then so everyone kind of knew where we were staying,” Grover explained. 

Despite the apparent availability of MJ’s address, His Airness needed to eat, and so a pizza was ordered. 

“Five guys came to deliver this pizza. I take the pizza and I tell them: "I've got a bad feeling about this. ... I've just got a bad feeling about this." 

Grover was apparently on to something, and at around 2:00 am he got a call saying that Michael was curled up in the fetal position, feeling awful. 

Michael was reportedly the only one who ate the pizza, thus he would be the only one to show such symptoms, making the claim difficult to dispute. 

So was Michael actually the victim of some foul-play on the part of Utah faithful, hoping to secure the title for their town?

Why it took so long for this story to surface is a valid question, and one that may never be directly addressed, just as we may never know exactly what was ailing MJ on the afternoon of the famous flu game. 

The toughness, strength, and drive that he displayed during the game still mark it as one of the most impressive sports performances of all time, and it has even spawned a shoe

Regardless of what was causing Michael to look like he could collapse at any second that afternoon, Jordan’s testicular fortitude is the main take away from this story. And that it may be a good idea to avoid shady late night pizza deliveries in Salt Lake City.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

5 Sixer coaching candidates to replace Doug Collins

Doug Collins recently notified team officials that he would not be returning to the sidelines next season, so the Sixers are officially in the market for a new head coach. 

No, the Sixers’ struggles this season don’t fall solely on the shoulders of Collins. Not only did he have to deal with a serious string of injuries throughout the season, he never actually got to coach the team he envisioned, and built around, last offseason. With Bynum sitting the entire season, Collins was often left to play catch up, plugging players in as he went along. 

Nonetheless, after such a disappointing season it is no surprise to see fingers pointed at the head coach, especially considering the large hand Collins had in assembling this underachieving unit.
This pseudo-rebuilding stage the Sixers are in is more than Collins bargained for, so it’s no surprise to see him stepping away.  

Realistically, the best available coaches, the likes of hall-of-famers Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan are not going to come to Philly on a rebuilding mission. Coach Cal isn’t going to leave the comfort of Kentucky to revive the 76ers, and Larry Brown isn’t going to walk through the door accompanied by a 27-year old Allen Iverson. Let’s get those lofty options out of the way early.

Don't expect to see this guy on Sixer sidelines (Photo: Yahoo!)
However, even with all of those options eliminated, there are plenty coaching choices for the Sixers to pursue; coaches who will be eager to embrace the challenge of turning the team around. 

1. Avery Johnson – Johnson was given a very short lease in Brooklyn this season, and was yanked from the job before the Nets ever even dipped below .500. Known as “The General’ during his playing days because of his knowledge and on-court leadership, Avery could be a great influence on a young Sixer squad. As the youngest coach ever to reach 150 victoreis, Avery has the energy, enthusiasm, and experience necessary to lead a team transformation. 

2. Brian Shaw – Currently an assistant in Indiana, Shaw has been waiting in the wings to become an NBA head coach for what seems like forever. Several years of assisting under the great Phil Jackson, plus a plethora of playing experience make Shaw’s resume one of the best among available options. His relatively young age, which would allow him to grow with his players, and his desire to succeed at his first head coaching gig should provide the Sixers with further incentives to pursue Shaw. 

3. Mike Brown – The 2009 NBA coach of the year, Mike Brown could bring defense and a structured game plan to the 76ers. Defense and discipline are important for a developing team, and Mike is a master at both. Brown has never had to coach a team void of a superstar, and he might actually enjoy developing a team where the agenda is not already set. The Sixers could gain from his X’s and O’s, and it would give Brown a chance to show his all-around coaching abilities; both sides could benefit.

4. Stan Van Gundy – This is a bit of a reach, but if Stan Van has any desire to return to the sidelines this season, the Sixers should at least give him a glance. Van Gundy has had success at each of his two NBA stops, and probably would have a championship ring had Pat Riley not stepped in and took the team to the title himself. Van Gundy can maximize the talent of a team, and puts his players in positions to succeed. 

5. Aaron McKie – This guy knows the Sixers’ system in-and-out, as both a player and a coach and is extremely familiar with the franchise. He is respected around the League for his basketball mind and is relatable to his players. Though he lacks the leadership experience the Sixers may be looking for, this could be a great opportunity for both sides to see how McKie has what it takes to be a head coach in this League.

Michael Jordan played in his last NBA game 10 years ago today

It is hard to believe that Michael Jordan played his last NBA game ten years ago today (4/16/13).

It is even more difficult to believe that his last game was spent sporting a Wizards jersey and losing to the 76ers by 20.

While the memory of Michael’s magic on a basketball court is still fresh in the memories of many, the ten year anniversary of his last game as a Washington Wizard, and more importantly as an NBA player, serves as a symbol of an end of an era. 

Michael represented a golden age for the National Basketball Association. 

Even though the League is in great shape today, teeming with talent, and the game continues to expand globally, no one will again be able to do for basketball what Michael Jordan did. 

Today it is 10 years, in a decade it will be twenty. MJ’s legacy will never be forgotten.

Before that final game, Michael was presented with a golf cart from the 76ers, and was then given an extended standing ovation by the Philadelphia faithful, not usually known for their honoring attitude towards visiting athletes.


In a tie in to the current Sixers season, Coach Collins happened to be the coach of the Wiz at the time of MJ's last game, and this pregame quote from 2003 sounds eerily similar to some of his soundbites from this season:

"We both feel the same way right now: We're very, very disappointed. We had good players, we just didn't fit. So I know there's a part of him that was hoping we could make the playoffs to show that we did the right thing and made the right moves, but I just get a sense that after tonight is over, he'll breathe a sigh of relief and say 'You know what, it's done now.'"

Funny Doug, that's exactly how Sixer fans feel about this season.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Kobe Bryant goes under the knife

Since I initially posted this on this morning, Kobe's injury has already been confirmed as an Achilles tear, and Kobe is already undergoing surgery. He didn't go under the knife without tweeting out a picture his fans first though. 

The Lakers have struggled through injury issues all season, and to their credit they have been able to persevere and remain in contention for playoff positioning, due largely to the inspired play of longtime Laker-leader, Kobe Bryant.

The team’s shot at a significant playoff push ended abruptly Friday night however, as Kobe crumbled to the court late in the fourth quarter, grimacing in pain as he reached down his left leg.

Lakers fans worst fears have come to fruition, as it is being reported that Kobe has torn his Achilles' tendon, and is out for at least the rest of this season. Without Kobe in the lineup the Lakers have little chance of making any noise in the postseason, but the playoff push has suddenly taken a backseat to Bryant’s long-term status.

An Achilles' injury is a difficult obstacle for anyone to overcome, and at age 34 with the amount of wear-and-tear his body has taken over the course of his 17 NBA seasons, Kobe’s full recovery is a real concern, even to him.

“Why the hell did this happen?  Now I’m supposed to come back from this and be the same player or better at 35? How in the world am I supposed to do that?”

That exact question is on the forefront of everyone’s mind, and unfortunately there is no easy answer.
Bryant’s determination and dedication will go a long way towards a successful recovery, but many will still wonder if we have seen the last of Kobe Bryant as we know him.

Before last night’s injury Kobe was having a renaissance season of sorts, averaging 27 point per game and leading the Lakers at an exceptionally high level. It was also a record-setting season for Bryant, as he continued his climb up the NBA’s all-time scoring list, which he is now fourth on.

Kobe is scheduled to get an MRI on Saturday to confirm that it is indeed an Achilles' tear, and then begins Kobe’s long road to recovery. For a man as committed to his craft as Bryant is, it will be exceedingly difficult for him to watch his team fight for a final playoff spot without being out in the battle to help his brothers. He has faith in his teammates however, stating in a Friday night Facebook post:

“I have faith in my teammates. They will come through.”

Although Kobe will be there to support his teammates throughout the rest of the season, don’t expect him to relish the role of cheerleader that injured athletes often embrace.

“Guess I will be Coach Vino for the rest of this season,” Bryant stated, before assuring fans that it he is going to attack his recovery with the same drive and conviction as ever.

“If you see me in a fight with a bear, pray for the bear.”

Although this is an encouraging sentiment, it is safe to assume it is not the bear most Laker fans will be praying for, but rather a full recovery for their superstar.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Manti Te'o's fake, imaginary girlfriend Lennay Kekua wins ESPN Bracket Challenge

So it seems that we could all take some bracket advice from somone who isn't real. From Pattison Ave:

"There were over 8 million entries into ESPN’s NCAA Bracket Challenge this year, and the winning bracket belonged to an imaginary person.

More accurately, the winning entry, which nets the winner a $10,000 Best Buy gift card, was titled “Lennay Kekua’s entry.”

For those with a short memory span, Lennay Kekua was the name of Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend that spawned the now infamous scandal which served as a public humiliation for Te’o and caused many to question his mental state.

Lennay Kekua’s entry, which was actually submitted by ESPN user CraigGilmore, was extremely accurate, and correctly predicted FGCU’s upset over Georgetown, as well as Louisville’s championship victory over Michigan.

Te’o has to be shaking his head somewhere. He doesn’t get to benefit from the Best Buy gift card, and months removed, he just can’t seem to escape the scandal.

Once a highly-projected first round pick, it will be interesting to see how the situation affects his stock at the NFL Draft later this month."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

It could be a busy summer for the Sixers

Some readers agreed with the following approach to the 76ers off-season, while some others did not. Check out the original article on Pattison Ave.

"Although there are no shortcuts to success in the NBA, there are several steps that the 76ers could take this summer to return to relevancy starting next season. A team transformation won’t happen overnight, but a combination of smart drafting and sound signings could greatly expedite the Sixers’ climb back to the East’s elite.

The first step for the Sixers’ return to relevancy is to cut ties with all of the players who have expiring contracts this summer, including Andrew Bynum.

Image from:
Signing Bynum will handcuff the franchise financially for several seasons, and the big guy has shown no indications that he is able, or even motivated to perform for the 76ers. This move also means saying goodbye to the inconsistencies of Nick Young, Dorell Wright, and Royal Ivey. I would understand if the team wanted keep Damien Wilkins around as a veteran presence.

Next, the franchise needs to go after a couple quality free agents. The Sixers will have some cap space, and though there aren’t many superstars that can single-handedly fix a franchise hitting the market this summer, there are several impact players available. The franchise should focus on signing both O.J. Mayo and J.J. Hickson. Both make around $4 million this season, and while both will be due for a pay increase, singing the two together shouldn’t break the bank.

O.J. will provide offense and serve as an excellent off-ball option for Holiday. Mayo is a versatile offensive player and could provide the Sixers with a dynamic wing scorer that they have been lacking.

Signing J.J. Hickson would finally provide the Sixers with a reliable post presence. Hickson would protect the paint and is a good rebounder. While he is not the most polished offensive player, he is very athletic and would pair well with Holiday in the pick-and-roll. He is a good finisher around the rim and he could play either power forward or center for the Sixers.

The Sixers, although they have been playing better basketball as of late, are still a lock for the lottery, and spending that pick wisely is their next step to success.

The 76ers will likely pick somewhere between 10-12, and should have the option of several promising players. Assuming that he is available, the Sixers should use the pick on Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum. MCCollum is a straight scourer and knows how to put the ball in the basket. Anyone who watched closely knows that the Sixers struggled to score at times this season, and McCollum could immediately help to alleviate the issue. While slightly undersized to play shooting guard, McCollum could play beside Holiday at times to provide offense, and serve as the team’s backup point guard/ bench scorer in his remaining minutes. It would be nice to have some scoring off the bench, and this would introduce McCollum to the NBA game without thrusting him into a starting spot.

If the franchise followed these moves to a T, which in all likelihood they won’t, next season the Sixers would have a formidable starting five and decent depth. The first name listed below is the projected starter, while the second name would be the backup.

PG: Jrue Holiday, C.J. McCollum
SG: O.J. Mayo, Jason Richardson
SF: Evan Turner, Damien Wilkins
PF: Thad Young, Levoy Allen
C: J.J. Hickson, Spencer Hawes

Throw in some additional minutes for Moultrie and the Sixers would have a pretty solid roster heading into the season. There is no reason to believe that such a squad, which could be feasibly formed in the offseason, couldn’t compete for home court advantage in a top-heavy Eastern Conference. Management illustrated that they aren’t afraid to make moves last summer, and they need to carry that same attitude into this offseason."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

76ers free agency options, including Josh Smith and Al Jefferson made these ideas look a little better with an image slide show and stuff, so feel free to check it out there.

"Just as the Sixers must look toward the lottery, they must also focus on free agency. 

At this point it seems that Jrue Holiday is the only player who is a lock to be in the lineup next season. 

Thad Young, Evan Turner, and Spencer Hawes are all under contract, but none are immovable should the right offer come calling. Of course, the big Bynum decision will have an enormous impact on offseason spending, and the Sixers overall approach as to what type of players they should pursue.
If the Sixers don’t re-sign Bynum they will have an ample amount of cap space to pursue other options. However, even if the Sixers were to offer Bynum a deal, it will be for less than initially expected when they signed him last summer, and they should still have solid cap space to pursue other players.

Elton Brand (finally) comes off of the books this summer, as well as a couple other contracts that the franchise probably won’t follow up on, such as Nick Young and Dorell Wright. It is safe to assume that the Sixers will look vastly different next season. 
Photo cred:

It is also safe to assume that top-tier free agent targets such as Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard won’t want to come sign with the struggling Sixers. So it seems that the Sixers will have to aim at the not-as-big-name, but still also effective free agents. Obviously the Bynum domino needs to fall first, but after that move is made here are a handful of players that could possibly help return the Sixers to relevancy. 

1. Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz: Behind Howard, and a healthy Bynum, if such a thing exists anymore, Utah’s Al Jefferson is the best center hitting the market this summer. Unlike Bynum, Jefferson doesn’t miss many games, and he can be a force on both ends of the floor. While his numbers aren’t astronomical,16 points, 9 rebounds per game for his career, they are solid, and Big Al would make an extremely serviceable centerpiece for the 76ers. 

2. J.J. Hickson, Portland Trail Blazers: Hickson, has proven very versatile while starting at center for the Blazers this season. Naturally a power forward, Hickson is a reliable rebounder and a decent defensive presence. His offensive game needs to continue to expand, but he is a good finisher around the rim. 

J.J. is quick on his feet and can be extremely explosive, and thus might make a nice compliment to Jrue in the pick-and-roll. He wouldn’t address all of their scoring issues, but Hickson could help solidify the Sixers’ frontcourt.

3. O.J. Mayo, Dallas Mavericks: O.J. has a player option for next season, but if he opts out of Dallas, several teams will be looking in his direction. O.J. isn’t an elite scorer, but he can put the ball in the basket, and at an increasing efficiency. His scoring ability would be a welcome addition in Philly, as he could majorly mollify the scoring load placed on Jrue Holiday this season. 

Although he would not be labeled as a “stopper,” O.J. is capable of playing above average defense when he wants to, and his ability to defend different positions makes him an asset on both sides of the ball. Although he will make more than the $4 million he received this season, Mayo will get a relatively modest contract. So if the Sixers sign him, they should have enough room to ink a frontcourt free agent as well. Such additions could make for a very successful summer. 

4. Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz: The Jazz have a pile of productive post players, and the Sixers would benefit from the addition of one of them. Again, the numbers aren’t eye-popping, but Millsap is a solid low post presence. He’s going to chip in between 12-20 points night in and night on while shooting a high percentage from the floor. He is efficient and the fact that he has never averaged over 13 shots a game in his career allows him to open up the floor for other players.

The Sixers could benefit from some stability in the post, which is what signing Millsap would provide. Also any contract offered to him should afford the team room to make offers to other players.

5. Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks: The Sixers flirted with the idea of adding Josh at the trade deadline, but in the end didn’t want to part with the package (Hawes & Turner) that it would have taken to bring the explosive Smith to South Philly. This summer they will have the opportunity to add him without losing other complementary pieces. 

Smith is an explosive athlete at both ends of the floor and can do a lot on a basketball court, albeit he may not be able to do any one thing exceptionally well. He would provide the Sixers with a physical power forward, who may pair well with Holiday’s up-tempo style. Although Smith shouldn’t be the Sixers top target, he is one of the most talented players available this summer, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt the Sixers to sign him.

Again, the organization’s approach to the offseason will depend largely on what happens with Bynum. If he is not retained then the team will have to place increased focus on finding a suitable center. If Bynum is brought back however, then the team will have to be filled out around him. Either way, the Sixers will look different next season."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Report: Andrew Bynum won't show Sixers any loyalty in free agency

As if Sixer fans needed another reason to dislike highly-paid hair model Andrew Bynum, a report has surfaced that says he plans to show no loyalty to the team that just paid him $16 million for literally nothing.

From The Inquirer's John Mitchell:

"A team source with knowledge of the situation said last week that he does not believe that Bynum will give the Sixers any special consideration in light of all that they lost in trading for him and the agonizing wait for him to return."

Great. So even if the 76ers wanted Bynum back, which they shouldn't, he more than likely wouldn't want to return, at least not for anything short of top dollar. 

What the Sixers should do is thank Andrew for his "services," and tell him to hit the road, without breaking him off so much as another cent.

Forget Bynum, look toward the lottery, and focus on free agency. This recent report is just further indication that the two sides are headed for a split; the sooner the better.