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Sixers deal Smith, Green to Hornets in four-player deal

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On September - 23 - 2010

Amidst the craziness that is the Philadelphia sports scene lately, it’s safe to say the Sixers aren’t being discussed around the water cooler in your office. 

However, that doesn’t mean the Sixers aren’t making moves.

On Thursday the Sixers made a deal with the New Orleans Hornets. Sending longest tenured Sixer, Willie Green, and former 1st round pick Jason Smith to the Hornets in exchange for big man Darius Songaila and 21st overall pick in this years draft, Craig Brackins. 

The deal seems to be a win for the Sixers, and down right baffling from the Hornets end. 

Green, while a veteran, doesn’t have the tools to play productive minutes. Jason Smith had shown flashes of perhaps becoming a talented and versatile player down low, but injuries have taken that spark away. 

Songaila is a decent shooter but probably won’t contribute too much to the team in the form of minutes. 

Brackins is an athletic big man, standing 6″10, who has the ability to shoot from outside. Brackins was the 21st pick in the 1st round by Oklahoma City before being traded to the Hornets. Brackins is a player whose reportedly been on Rod Thorn’s radar for a few years now. Some scouting reports claim that Brackins would have easily been a lottery pick had he come out a year ago. 

Clearly the 76ers are changing the culture of this team. For once embracing the athletic ability of the current roster and surrounding that talent with equally athletic players with an importance on those players ability to shoot from outside. The Sixers will be a defense first team, though you’re slowly starting to see the creation of what kind of offensive attack they hope to bring this season. 

Impact playing for Team USA will have for Iguodala, Sixers

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On August - 31 - 2010

When the Sixers took Andre Iguodala 9th overall in 2004, they drafted him in hopes he’d become the eventual face of the franchise. Since then the team has gone through it’s ups and downs. Now 6 years later, the future maybe now.

Iguodala has earned a spot on the USA Basketball squad for the 2010 Worlds, something that could jump start his career. The opportunity to play with some of the NBA’s best young talent, under the tutelage of Coach K, is one Iguodala has seemed to take full advantage. His game has continued to grow in other areas besides the point total.

Only a few short months ago, the Sixers were shopping Iguodala heavily around the NBA. Now, it seems as if he’s going to get another opportunity to become what the Sixers had hoped he would when they drafted him 6 years ago. Iguodala deserves a lot of credit for earning the teams changed perception of him. When things were at their worst, he stood tall, reiterating his desire to stay in Philadelphia,  again and again. 

Like any successful player, one needs a strong supporting cast. With the revolving door of head coaches, and some foolish front office moves, it’s been an uphill battle for Iguoala. He could of openly asked for a trade like Samuel Dalembert did, moaned and groaned his way out like Chris Webber. Criticized the organization like Greg Buckner or just plain given up like Glenn Robinson  or the aforementioned Mr. Webber. Though, he hasn’t, he’s shown the desire to compete. Now does he have the will? 

The future molding of that answer maybe in the process of being constructed at the World Championships.

I asked my Twitter followers (follow me @Mike__SB) what they thought. Will Iguodala’s experience playing for Team USA help his game? Leadership? Or the Sixers chances? 

Here’s a few responses: 

“I think he is what he is at this point. He doesn’t have to be the leader there either so not much will change” ( @ArenaMj )

-Could be right, may have little affect on his leadership with the Sixers. I still believe that he’s really embracing the role, and the younger guys will look to him for leadership. 

“Playing for Coach K never hurt anyone, that’s for sure.” ( @GregDietz )

-Can’t argue with you there. Coach K is certainly running this team like a team. A team made up of equally important parts, not just a team of superstars. 

“Think it helps his defense. He is seeing how important it will be in this setting. Collins will have the same message. I feel he could be more of a leader because of this.” ( @NBAtipoff )

-I agree, Iguodala is already, in my mind, a terrific defender. It will surely help ready himself for Doug Collins whose going to preach defense first. As well as offense from defense, no Princeton offense this season. 

“Maybe help him realize he will never be the star but just a role player. Know your role!” ( @ScrappleSports )

-The Sixers hope some of the scoring load will be taken off his shoulders with Evan Turner on board. If Turner is successful I think we’ll find out exactly how important and perhaps underrated Iggy is. 

With lots of work left to do, the Sixers believe they are finally headed in the right direction. 

Along with new Head Coach Doug Collins, 2nd overall pick Evan Turner, and a young nucleus headed by Jrue Holiday, the Sixers are poised for a rebirth of sorts. A franchise that last season was in the doldrums of the NBA , suddenly has hope. 

This hope hinges on what type of impact Iguodala will have going forward. The experience he takes away from playing in the Worlds could have the biggest impact on what happens to the Sixers this season. Having some success at the international level, representing your country? Don’t let the magnitude of that become lost. Whether or not you care about it as a fan or not doesn’t mean it couldn’t have a great effect on Iguodala himself. The hunger and desire to make his own success at the NBA level can only become larger. 

Iguodala may not be lighting up the scoreboard at the Worlds but he’s continuing his growth as a player. I say continuing because it started during last seasons disaster of a season, for the 76er. Last season Iguodala achieved his highest averages in rebounds, assists, and blocks per game. Seems as if the growth of his game is starting to build. 

Will Iguodala be able to take his game to the next level? Become the leader of this young Sixers team? 

Those questions will likely be answered soon. 

Sixers to hire Thorn as President

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On August - 11 - 2010

According to NBA sources the 76ers will announce the hiring of former Nets President Rod Thorn on Thursday.

Thorn will again be working with current 76ers GM Ed Stefanski. Both worked together as employees of the Nets for parts of six seasons.

Thorn was president of the Nets for the better part of a decade, helping the Nets reach the Finals once along the way. Thorn’s departure from the Nets came shortly after Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the team.

At this point it appears Stefanski will keep his job as GM. Though, the ever increasing changes in authority of front office and scouting issues put Ed squarely on the hot seat headed into the 2010-11 campaign.

- Mike Santa Barbara

The Sixers fork in the road

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On July - 17 - 2010

The Sixers may have benefited from a short lived buzz due to the drafting of Evan Turner, the work is not finished.  In all reality, the work may not be finished before the start of the 2010/11 campaign. The Sixers have reached the proverbial  “fork in the road.”

It’s where decisions must be made, like it or not. Mainly, the Sixers must figure out which direction they want this team to travel. That direction isn’t just winning or losing, it’s much more complicated than that. With the team the Sixers have now, it would be no surprise to most if they were to make the playoffs. However, now that the East has gotten even tougher this off-season, it’s clear the Sixers are still light years away from contending.

The Sixers have options, trading Andre Iguodala for one, though it seems the team has soured on moving him right now. Some of that new found attitude has to do with the hiring of Doug Collins, and of course the Sixers lucking into the 2nd pick overall, Evan Turner. Though, a lot of it has to do with Andre Iguodala himself. When things were at their worst, he stuck by this franchise, and made it clear he wants to stay. Iguodala’s leadership has jumped leaps and bounds from a few years ago. A coach like Doug Collins has to be excited about working with Iguodala, it’s felt by Collins and others that Iggy has untapped potential just waiting to break out. This untapped potential may come mainly from the defensive side of the ball. Iguodala is regarded as a solid NBA defender, but many believe he can be better.

Along with Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, who both have the ability to defend well, the Sixers will be a much better team on the defensive end. Which means they’ll be in a lot more games than they were last year. Will it make them a contender in the East, probably-most likely, not. Though, good feelings come from winning, with winning builds an identity, something the Sixers need badly to regain.

So, if the Sixers stay the course, keep Iguodala and let Collins mold this team, they will compete. Though, most likely they’ll be playing out the years of Elton Brand’s contract and perhaps wasting a few years from young players like Holiday and Turner. This has been Thaddeus Young’s story in a nut shell. He’s gone from a very promising player, to a struggling bench player, who again will be blocked from playing time this upcoming year by Andres Nocioni. Do the Sixers want to risk the same thing happening to the likes of Holiday and Turner?

Now, if the Sixers were to trade Iguodala, it would most likely mean Thaddeus Young would be starting at the 3, along with Holiday and Turner at the guard positions. Even though they’d still have Brand it would allow those three to play a lot of minutes together. Also, if Brand has the kind of year he did the previous two, he’ll find himself on the bench for Marreese Speights a lot of the time. Speights, yet another young player who seemed to have promise, only to struggle last season as well.

With that team you’d have growing pains, no doubt. Though, you’d have a good look at all three together. The time to evaluate where their games are, and what pieces the team needs to add. Something the Sixers will do regardless if they trade Iggy or not before the season. The only difference is, they would have the money to add pieces next off season if Iguodala is traded. Not to mention, another possible lottery pick to go along with it.

It’s time for the Sixers to make a decision, the decision isn’t an easy one, but one that has to be made before the season starts.

-Mike Santa Barbara

Evan Turner learns from his rough Summer League

Posted by Dany Sloan On July - 12 - 2010

While ESPN is convinced that the only basketball player on the planet is LeBron James, fans in the Delaware Valley are less concerned with shenanigans and more worried about how prized rookie Evan Turner and the rest of the Sixers fared in the Summer League.

OK, I may be overstating that last part, but those diehards that are still following the Sixers are likely aware that the NBA Summer League just wrapped up in Orlando. For those not familiar with the league, it’s made up of the young guys and developmental league-type players looking to sharpen their skills and get some ball in over the summer.

The Sixers had several guys playing down in Orlando, but the names you need to remember are Marreese Speights, Jodie Meeks, Jrue Holiday, and of course our #2 overall pick Evan Turner. While it’s nice to see all of these guys get some minutes and try to prove the naysayers wrong (ahem, Marreese), the guy we’re going to focus on now is Turner.

Over the course of these five games we saw some good and not so good things from Turner. We saw a guy that can block (good), but one that needs to work on his shooting (bad). He pulled down plenty of boards, including six of them in the final game (good), but was not in game shape (bad). He also spent too much time jawing with officials, which can either be good or bad depending on who you ask.

The Villain may have ended the short summer season on a high note with 13 points and six rebounds, but his overall play was rather forgettable. The rookie had a rough time and was likely glad for it to be over. Turner looked out of his element, and even he admitted that he had a lot of troubles.

“I know I have to be in shape to compete with this type of competition,” he said. “It’s a lot more competition, and everybody down here is playing so hard. They’re playing to get or keep a job and put food on the table, and I got my butt kicked. It’s the first time in a long time I’ve gotten my butt kicked. I’m glad it happened now instead of in November, December or January.”

You think? I’m not defending his play – the kid needs to get his act together, but it was his first taste of playing against NBA players, granted mostly younger guys and scrubs. He hasn’t played competitively since Ohio State’s season ended, so that did hold him back. Either way though, he did get his butt kicked.

Doug Collins, who’s always looking at the glass half full, did a good job in polishing Turner’s turd of a week.

“I think this was the best 8 days of Evan’s life,” Collins said. “As painful as it might have been, he understands the level now that you have to be at competitively and in shape to play this game. When you’re not in the greatest of shape, you can’t play at the highest level. It doesn’t matter how good your skill level is. He’ll go from here, and now he’s got form now until the end of September to do what’s necessary.”

I am definitely still on the Turner bandwagon. A week like this might bring all of the pro-Favors fans out of the woodwork, but I still believe that the Sixers made the best pick. If you look back to last summer, you might remember that a certain Jrue Holiday played like shit, but if you look across the kid’s rookie season, he came around for sure.

Turner is not going to turn around the team on his own, and there’s a very good chance that he won’t even be starting for most of the season, but his presence is absolutely necessary. If the kid is given time, he will grow and develop into the star that we all know he is, hopefully forming the nucleus of the next great Sixers team.

Sixers have a clear choice to make on draft day

Posted by Dany Sloan On June - 23 - 2010

Leading up to the draft lottery day on May 18, I had joked that the lottery balls had to go in the Sixers’ favor. Not only was the team in desperate need of a direction change, but it was also my birthday.

Truth be told I wasn’t expecting anything higher than the #6 or #7 pick, so it took awhile for the the truth to sink in: the Philadelphia 76ers have the #2 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. It was quite the birthday present.

While almost certain future star John Wall will fall to the Washington Wizards at #1, the Sixers have one clear choice and a number of guys who could slot in quite well, all of whom have been worked out by the team over the past week.

Tomorrow’s draft will herald a new era in the team’s history, one that will hopefully see them rebuild the only way they can. By shedding dead weight and bad contracts and stocking up on young talent, the Sixers can once again be relevant.

The Dalembert trade was an excellent start, but an intelligent draft pick will be even more important.

Derrick Favors, the Georgia Tech power forward, is slated to go to the New Jersey Nets at #3 on most draft boards, but new head coach Doug Collins is said to be very high on him.

While both Wall and Turner are highly polished athletes, the 18-year old Favors has some development to do, but some experts believe that he could end up being the biggest prize from this draft.

He’s worked out with Minnesota, New Jersey, Sacramento, and Philly, and although he is 7’4″, has great ball-handling skills, and quick jumping abilities, there is one knock about him. Minnesota says he is out of shape, which Favors does not deny.

While working out in Philly, he competed in drills against DeMarcus Cousins, another guy who figures to go high in the draft. With the recent departure of Samuel Dalembert, the University of Kentucky power forward/center could fill a need in South Philly.

He has a wealth of attributes, including his ability to get to free throw line, shot-blocking skills, and defensive post presence, but his 1.6 points per touch average is troubling. With a pick this high in the draft, the Sixers are better going for the best guy available as opposed to filling a need.

Forward Wesley Johnson is older and more polished, quickly shooting up a lot of draft boards. His work out in Philly went well, and there is a lot that he could bring the team. He’s versatile, which allows him to keep his mistakes to a minimum. More importantly, he excels at rebounding and would be an excellent choice for the Sixers.

His age may be a downside, but with that comes added experience. The real knocks come in the form of his inability to get to the free throw line and the lack of advanced ball-handling skills.

When the Sixers go on the clock tomorrow night, the name they need to call is obvious: Ohio State’s Evan Turner. What this kid can do on both sides of the ball is mind-boggling. He will do whatever it takes to score, he’s an excellent defender, he’s aggressive, and he can rebound with the best of them.

This is the biggest draft for the Sixers since 1996. There may be some valid arguments in picking based on need, but the team needs more than just a few holes filled. This is a team in shambles that has lost the city, and a high draft pick will go a long way in reviving interest.

If the braintrust doesn’t pick Turner, I’ll be shocked (or not, based on history) because this is the guy that will bring hope back to the team. Along with other young guys like Holiday, Young, and Speights, this will be the team we see on the court for a very long time.

Samuel Dalembert finally traded, sent to Kings

Posted by Dany Sloan On June - 17 - 2010

In a move that was definitely a long time coming, the Sixers dealt longtime center Samuel Dalembert to the Sacramento Kings for swingman Andres Nocioni and big man Spencer Hawes. Sammy was a first round draft pick in June of 2001, immediately following Philly’s NBA Finals defeat against the Lakers.

Any first rounder comes to a team with a certain amount of pressure on his shoulders, and Dalembert was no different. The Sixers had just missed the championship against a historically great Lakers team, and they were hungry for more. But what we saw from him during his time in Philadelphia was a series of ups and downs, a center that couldn’t match up against the league’s big men, and a wildly inconsistent player that likely should not have been a starter the last few years.

While I wouldn’t go as far to say that Dalembert’s tenure in Philadelphia was one of wasted potential, he definitely didn’t live up to expectations. One night he was on fire and would pull down 12 rebounds, and the following night he’d be a complete non-factor. Early in his career, it was easy to blame it all on youth, but for the last few years, all I wanted to do is buy him a train ticket and tell him to get out.

But focusing less on his legacy and what this deal means for the Sixers next year, this deal could be the first step in a much-needed overhaul to this franchise. The team just needs to follow through on the rebuild.

For one, his $12.2 million salary for the ’10-’11 season (Kings have to pay an extra 15% trade kicker) is now solely the responsibility of Sacramento. While it’s not my money, it is my team, and I am glad there’s one less underperformer getting paid top dollar.

The two guys coming over from the KIngs, Nocioni and Hawes, will be receiving $6.8 million and $2.9 million respectively. This saves the team a few million in cap space next year, and the following year Hawes is a free agent, giving the Sixers further wiggle room, although the 22-year old is someone to keep an eye on. Only time will tell if they’ll be in the position to nab a big name free agent at that point, but moves like this trade are the right thing to do.

Lastly, the Sixers are in a prime position to make another excellent move next week by drafting Evan Turner at #2. With the Sixers’ current state, they need to draft the best available player when their slot comes up, and that is Turner, but ESPN’s Bob Ford speculates that the team may see things differently.

While Ed Stefanski is said to prefer Turner (as he should), new coach Doug Collins is very high on Derrick Favors. Now that Nocioni is here, and with Dalembert headed out west, who will play center? Favors could be that guy, but if the Sixers make that move and he turns out to be a bust, the braintrust is going to look dumb.

On the other hand, everyone expects them to select Turner, who is pretty much a sure thing. The Sixers need to make the logical move and take Evan Turner, perhaps trying out Elton Brand at center this season.

Let’s hope the team decides to be logical for once.

Is Doug Collins the answer?

Posted by Dany Sloan On May - 20 - 2010

For many of us, the tenure of Eddie Jordan one-year stint as head coach of the 76ers was ill-advised before it even began. His known disdain for developing players (“Free Jrue!”) and the Princeton offense did not fit the current unit, and as the season wore on, those who weren’t initially convinced that he wasn’t the right man eventually fell into place.

From team discord to questionable rotations to his sometimes peculiar press conference behavior, Jordan fell out of favor quickly. By the time he was fired, the entire Delaware Valley breathed a collective sign of relief. At least the handful of us that were still paying attention.

Since Larry Brown rode off to Detroit in 2003, the Sixers have had six different head coaches, with Maurice Cheeks having the longest tenure at three years. It’s been a revolving cast, some of which did well with what they had, while others were clowns.

This team is in sorry shape and is in real need of direction. Tuesday’s lottery win, which earned them the #2 overall pick in the draft on June 24th, goes a long way in bringing some respectability back to South Philly. All signs point to the team choosing Ohio State star Evan Turner.

The biggest piece of the puzzle will be the man that replaces Eddie Jordan. The new coach needs to understand that the future of this franchise will be built around the nucleus of Jrue Holiday, Maressee Speights, and Thad Young.

According to Bob Cooney in the Inquirer yesterday, it looks like the coaching search is over. Once money and terms are agreed upon, former Wizards coach and current NBA analyst Doug Collins will take the reins of the team.

Am I excited? Not exactly. But it’s not because I don’t like Collins. The Sixers have put fans through hell, with terrible contracts and middling teams. It might be the right decision, but I won’t feel right until I see the team moving forward.

Collins has not coached since 2003, but he had previously led the Bulls, Pistons, and Wizards over eight seasons, compiling a 332-287 record. He was also the first overall pick by the Sixers in 1973, playing his entire career in Philly.

Granted I’d like to see Avery Johnson or Tom Thibodeau to be seriously considered for the job, but with the lottery result, Collins could likely be the best man for the job.

His track record suggests a man who truly understands the game, especially on the defensive end. With the likely pick of Turner, the talent of this team’s young nucleus will be off the charts. If he enacts the right long term plan and sees it through, our lowly Sixers could return to the promised land of the postseason.

But I’ll be reserving my judgment until I start to see progress on the court.

With only 12 games remaining, Sixers should lose out

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On March - 22 - 2010

Now, I’d never wish for any Philly team to lose games on purpose. Nor would I deem it acceptable from any other franchise in any other sport for any reason at all.Though, Today I’m saying the Sixers should lose out the rest of the way.  I’m not saying they should do it on purpose, they’ve been doing a good job all year losing by themselves. All I’m saying is, keep your pride in check, Sixers, and just lose, baby.

The Sixers have 12 games remaining in the regular season. That’s 12 games until they hit the tees, or go back to their hometowns to watch the NBA playoffs with their friends and families.

Out of the final 12 games, only a handful are  “winnable” games for the Sixers.

The remaining schedule shakes out like this:

vs Orlando (Tonight)  49-21

@ Milwaukee            38-30

vs Atlanta                45-24

vs Oklahoma City       42-26

@ Charlotte              35-34

vs Toronto               34-34

vs Detroit                23-47

@ Miami                  36-34

vs Milwaukee

@ Memphis              37-33

vs Miami

@ Orlando

As you can see only one team they’ll face the rest of the way has a losing record, the Detroit Pistons. The Sixers are currently only one game better than the Pistons.  Their matchup on April 6th could have huge NBA lottery implications.

With the Sixers most likely parting ways with Ed Stefanski, and definitely with head coach Eddie Jordan, a new GM and coach could find themselves in an enviable position. Starting off their tenure’s with a high 1st round pick could help them develop a direction for this team more easily. Having a piece to build around is half the battle. A battle that’s been lost by Ed Stefanski and Billy King before him. The Sixers roster isn’t full of bad players, in fact it’s full of some actual talent. Only, there isn’t any superstar talent, or “special” talent on this team. Andre Iguodala is a nice player, but let’s face it he’s destined to be a side-kick. Elton Brand was at one time a huge piece to a teams success, now he’s in his fledgling years, a shell of his former self.

Aside from those two, you have some developing talents.  Thaddeus Young and Maressee Speights have seemed to go backwards this season. Not surprisingly though, being on a bad team rarely helps a young players game. With Jrue Holiday, he’s shown some tremendous skill, and has a huge upside. The rest of the roster is full of average role players.

The  Sixers roster combined with a flawed offensive system, non-existent defense and cap space headed in the wrong direction is a recipe for 24-46 record.

All of this is why the Sixers should lose out the rest of the way. Lose all 12 and hope for the best possible draw in the lottery. If you’re a real Sixer fan you’ll understand that it’s the first step to turning this franchise around. Winning a couple of games at the end of this season can only hurt the team in the future.

Jordan as good as gone

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On March - 10 - 2010

As I reported weeks ago (not like it was a shot in the dark) there are reporters all over the NBA world claiming the 76ers are ready to give head coach Eddie Jordan the axe.

And as word has spread the deny game has started from the brass at Comcast-Spectacor. President of Comcast-Spectacor Peter Luukko denied Wednesday that a “predetermined decision” had been made to fire Jordan.

Though, the writing is on the wall and has been for sometime. No one expected the Sixers to be overly competitive, though no one expected them to be 23-40 right now. Eddie Jordan’s famed “Princeton Offense” was dropped months ago. The criticisms started raining down not only from the press but also from GM Ed Stefanski. Who stated that Jordan spent too much time during training camp on installing the “Princeton Offense,” and not enough time on the defensive end.

Then again, Stefanski’s probably trying to save his job too. Word is that Comcast-Spectacor plans on evaluating Stefanski’s position with the team as well. After all he is the man who signed Jordan to a four-year contract with three years guaranteed.

Players are said to be “very confused” and why shouldn’t they be? They’re probably wondering how Jordan has hung on this long. Why an interim coach didn’t take over and give them a shot at salvaging this season. Probably wondering why a big move wasn’t made at the deadline. Wondering if this team will ever get it’s head above water. If they’re ever going to, firing Jordan and Stefanski must be the first step.

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