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Iverson may not return to the 76ers

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On February - 22 - 2010

According to the 76ers and GM Ed Stefanski Allen Iverson will be on an “indefinite” leave of absence from the team to tend to his ailing daughter.

There is no current timetable for his return, and some are reporting he may never come back. That the team and Iverson may simply “part ways.”

Iverson has been a good soldier since returning to the team. He has not been a distraction, nor has he hurt the team on the court. If anything he’s been a good role model for the younger players.

The extent of Iverson’s daughter’s sickness has not been released. Sixer management only saying it’s a “very serious issue.”

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

The hope for the Sixers

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On February - 22 - 2010

Now that the trade deadline has come and gone it’s time to re-evaluate this Sixer team. After weeks of speculation, the Sixers made a seemingly minor deal. And the lack of a major move has provided more questions than answers.

The main question being why wasn’t a “major” move made?

The answer from the Sixer brass was typical, that no deal made sense. Though, what has made sense for this team this year?

Another question being, was it the right move to not make a move?

The answer to that question will come in time.

So, in re-evaluating this team let’s try to find some hope in an otherwise hopeless situation.

First, let’s discuss the player the Sixers acquired at the deadline, Jodie Meeks. The deal got little to no fan fair. However, Meeks could be a player. He was a great player while at Kentucky, and his playing time in Milwaukee was limited for a reason. Luke Ridnour, Brandon Jennings, and before he was injured, Michael Redd, made up the majority of the guard play for the Bucks.

Meeks from all accounts is a terrific shooter, something the Sixers need badly. Having a consistent threat from outside could change the dynamic of this team offensively.

Now, onto the major weaknesses of this team, which are many.

While the Sixers poor defense has hurt them the majority of the time, it can be blamed on the way they play offense. Being a running team can often times take your team out of position the other way on defense. And when they are slowed down by the better teams and forced to play half-court Basketball their weaknesses are further exploited. Ed Stefanski even blamed Eddie Jordan for focusing too much on teaching the Princeton offense and basically ignoring the defensive side of the ball.

Coaching has been a problem all year. And as I mentioned, Ed Stefanski hasn’t exactly given the vote of confidence to Eddie Jordan lately. Openly, while not maliciously, criticizing Jordan and his mistakes. All signs point to Eddie Jordan being fired, and there really isn’t a point in firing him until the end of the season. This season is a lost cause, Stefanski knows this, and may have realized that blowing up this team wasn’t the answer. That the real problem was the guy wearing the suit, at least he’ll be the scapegoat. It maybe the only shot Stefanski has at keeping his job. And having job security into next season, he’d like to have some weapons around to have a fighting chance at keeping his job this time next season.

So it looks as if Stefanski is going to get one more shot. Just because no big deals were made before the deadline doesn’t mean they won’t happen during the off-season. Samuel Dalembert for instance will be easier to get rid of this Summer, and he’ll probably be in higher demand having an expiring contract.

Also, during the off-season you pretty much have unlimited time to discuss deals. A lot of things can happen, if the Sixers were to trade Andre Iguodala this summer they could be looking for a high draft pick. Perhaps a young player, with a cheap cap hit and a high upside. Something like Jodie Meeks who the Sixers got essentially for a 2nd round pick.

The hope for the Sixers is all in the time they have left to turn this thing around. I would consider Eddie Jordan as good as gone, his Princeton offense has been scrapped and I can’t see him being here next season. It gives Ed Stefanski time to find a new head coach and change the overall dynamic of this team.

So, are you all ready for one more try at this? Stefanski his hoping he’ll get one, and by the comments and lack of moves he’s made, believe me he’s counting on it.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

Sixers make a deal

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On February - 18 - 2010

The Philadelphia 76ers have actually made a deal before the trade deadline.

Only it doesn’t involve Andre Iguodala, Samuel Dalembert or Elton Brand.

The Sixers have traded Center Primoz Brezec, Guard Royal Ivey and a 2nd Round Pick to the Miluakee Bucks for Shooting Guard Jodie Meeks, and Center Francisco Elson.

Neither Brezec or Ivey contributed much to the Sixers this season. So, to get a young player like Meeks for virtually a 2nd rounder isn’t a bad deal for the Sixers. Meeks was a fantastic scorer at Kentucky, but has struggled this season averaging around 5 pts a game in limited playing time. Meeks can shoot, so it should help the Sixers out in that sense. According to a few sources, the Sixers were very high on Meeks and wanted to draft him, just weren’t in the position to.

This certainly isn’t a blockbuster, and does virtually nothing to improve this team. Seems to be a trade just to make a trade. Which won’t make fans happy.

Stefanski’s tough choice

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On February - 15 - 2010

With the NBA Trade Deadline looming, 3pm Thursday, Ed Stefanski has a tough choice to make.

To trade Andre Iguodala or stand pat?

A few weeks ago, no one on the Sixers was untouchable, not even Andre Iguodala. A few weeks ago the Sixers were absolutely desperate to unload some contracts. It seemed as if they’d have very few takers.

My have things changed.

Not only have them been the talk of numerous trade speculation, they actually hold the cards in their favor.

Crazy right?

The Phoenix Suns want Andre Iguodala, and they want him bad. So badly in fact that reports are they’ve sweetened the offer for Iguodala and Dalembert.  Straight up Amare Stoudemaire and Leandro Barbosa for Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert.

A few weeks ago, the Sixers would have jumped at the chance.

My have things changed.

Now Ed Stefanski is having second thoughts, and perhaps he should. Word around many NBA circles is that most teams were “salivating” at the thought of being able to acquire Andre Iguodala. Iguodala is seen around the NBA as the perfect “side kick” to a superstar, or that “final piece” on a good team.

The interest for Iguodala has sky-rocketed, although only a few teams are in the right cap situation to take on Iggy’s contract.

So now Stefanski is stuck, what do to? Trade away the most valuable piece and try to rebuild again? Or do you have to go another route, and build around Iguodala? Either way it’s going to be tough.

If that wasn’t bad enough now Ed has another possible deal to chew on.

As I stated before the Suns really want Andre Iguodala. And if straight up won’t work, how about a three-way trade. One that doesn’t involve the Sixers acquiring Amare Stoudemire. It would be a three-way deal involving the Suns, Sixers and Cavaliers. The Sixers would end up with Leandro Barbosa, J.J Hickson, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas (a.k.a – CAP SPACE.) The Suns would get what they want, Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert. And the Cavs would get what they want, Amare.

I for one would be in favor of this trade. Amare may be a fantastic player, but there’s no telling if he’ll opt out. And if he doesn’t you’re just as stuck as you were before. J. J Hickson is a rookie with high upside, and Barbosa is a nice solid player to add. Plus you’ll get cap space, and perhaps a draft pick in the deal. I see it as a win.

Either way, Stefanski has a tough choice to make. The foreseeable future of the 76ers is literally in his hands right now. Let’s hope Ed does the right thing, if not it’ll cost him his job.

No pressure Eddie!

- Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

Sixers with possible interest in Amare Stoudemire

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On January - 25 - 2010

The Suns are reportedly shopping Amare Stoudemire again, many sources say a deal could be done within the week.

On the list of interested teams appears the Philadelphia 76ers. Now this is all premature speculation, but the fact they are showing interest is exciting nonetheless.

No names have been discussed but you can bet the Sixers would have to give up Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young or Marreese Speights, and a few other pieces to get Stoudemire.

The Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves are said to be only a handful of teams interested along with the 76ers.

A few things the Sixers have going for them is at this point no one is untouchable on this roster, especially for a player like Stoudemire. Also, the Suns are looking for high draft picks and young talent in the deal, something the Sixers have.

Working against the Sixers is the Suns seem to be looking for cap relief in the deal.  So taking on a contract like Iguodala’s isn’t too terribly attractive. And you can forget about packaging Brand or Dalembert along with Iguodala in the deal.

Stoudemire can opt out of his contract at the end of the year, something he will do. And most likely it will take a max deal to get him signed. The Suns don’t seem willing to do this, so they’re going to try and trade him, not wanting to risk losing him for nothing.

If Stefanski can somehow make this deal work and also (unlikely though) find a way to trade away Dalembert or Brand in another deal,  Stoudemire would be one hell of a player to rebuild around.

Another question is would it be worth it? Would it benefit the Sixers to trade away nearly all of their young talent and their high draft pick for Stoudemire? At this point what their doing isn’t working, so it couldn’t hurt to try.

Although, looking at the other teams that are interested and what they can offer you have to think the Sixers chances at pulling this off are slim. The fact that they have entered themselves in the running is exciting for the future however. This team knows they need to change, they know it’s time to start over.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

Sixers with another laughable 4th Quarter and another loss

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On January - 20 - 2010

The 76ers continued their struggles Wednesday Night, losing to the Andre Miller and the Portland Trailblazers 98-90.

Andre Miller returned to Philadelphia wearing Blazer red this time. Though, he was white hot in his return, netting 24 points.

The bright spot lately for the 76ers has been the inspired play of their defense. They continued that trend Wednesday Night. Playing the Trailblazers tough practically all night long. Unfortunately, the trend of playing bad 4th Quarters also continued Wednesday night.

See-Sawing back and forth all night, the Sixers were in a position to win the game. Like they have been many times this season, they came up small when it mattered.

In the 4th Quarter the Sixers time and time again chucked up ill-advised shots. There seemed to be no flow, and if plays were called they certainly weren’t executed properly. That falls on the Coach Eddie Jordan. Who seems to be coaching on the fly. When the offense is clicking for this team the defense is no where to be found. Now that the defense is finally coming around, there is no one on the court there to hit the big shot when this team really needs it.

There are plenty of guys on the court who seem willing to take the big shots. As of yet, no one has proven they can be relied on to hit those big shots. Part of this is they haven’t been put in the positions to hit those shots.

Trailing by only 4 with under a minute to go Andre Iguodala chucked up a three-pointer, he missed. Another example of this team not being on the same page. You have to applaud Iguodala for wanting to take, and believing he can hit, that big shot. Though, his inability to realize the situation, and make a smart decision speaks volumes about where this team is maturity wise.

You have to believe that by the way Eddie Jordan’s rotation has been going these days he’s searching for players to fill roles. Either that, or he has no idea what he’s doing. Sitting guys like Lou Williams and Allen Iverson late in close games has to stop. They may not be the difference makers per-say, though they are guys who can get to the basket and draw contact.  Something the Sixers need to do more of, they are not a jump shooting team. They just can’t win games that way.

In the end, when this team needs to come up clutch no one is able to come through. Not the players and not the coach. There is absolutely no sense of urgency, and little if any strategy at work here. The players seem ill-prepared and Eddie Jordan doesn’t seem to have a clue. Jordan’s press conferences are becoming more and more repetitive. He seems to be looking for that “killer instinct” when the team is up big. And the “heart” to come back when their down big. Now I guess he’s searching for a “superstar” to arise out of this roster who can take over games like tonight.

Good luck with that Eddie.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

76ers: The plan from here on out

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On January - 18 - 2010

The 76ers blew a 20-point lead, losing to the lowly Timberwolves Monday afternoon in overtime.

Is anyone surprised?

The Sixers set the pace early jumping ahead by as much as twenty in the 2nd quarter. As in their previous few games the Sixers defense was actually quite impressive in the first half. Ball movement was crisp and the game plan was executed perfectly.

Now, the second half, that’s another story entirely.

The Sixer defense seemed to revert back to their old ways. Nearly the entire second half the T-Wolves were able to get clear looks at the basket.  On the offensive side of the ball the Sixers were no longer attacking the basket instead, settling for jump shots. And I don’t know how many times I’ve said it, this is not a jump shooting team.  In the end it was their undoing, as they eventually fell in overtime.

Only a few hours after this loss, there is debate as to whether or not this is a good loss or a bad loss.

Well it’s neither.

No matter how or when you lose , you still lost, and losing is not good no matter who you are or what’s at stake.  Believe me winning today wasn’t going to keep the Sixers out of a high draft pick, though losing is still not good. Losing could get Eddie Jordan fired, but what’s the point? Say the Sixers fire Eddie Jordan, and they name an interim  head coach, promoting within. Like last season with Tony DiLeo when Maurice Cheeks was fired.   And what happened? DiLeo instilled a defensive system and the team charged into the playoffs. Giving the Orlando Magic their toughest test during their journey to the NBA Finals before being beaten by the Los Angeles Lakers.

For all you “let’s tank it on purpose” fans out there how’s that last scenario sound to you?

Ultimately, it is never a bad thing to win. What DiLeo did with the Sixers last year gave fans and media alike hope that this team would be better. Many had the Sixers a guaranteed playoff team, even as high as the 6th seed. Expectations are never a bad thing, eventually they lead to actual results. Along with expectations comes pressure, without it, there is practically no incentive to win. You become apathetic and happy with just being. Something the Sixers have been all season long. Something they’ll continue to be if they “tank” this season.

Does anyone remember how this city felt about the Sixers towards the end of last season? There wasn’t a buzz, like a “I think they could go far” attitude. It was more of a prideful, “they could really give the Magic all they can handle.” The fan base was energized and looking forward to the growth of this team.

That growth is going backwards.

It’s time to let Eddie Jordan go. It’s time to salvage this season, and not in the standings. It’s time to salvage the heart of this franchise. Pride has to return, that’s the first step to rebuilding this team. Not a high priced free agent, and not a know-it-all coach. Until they restore that energy, this team will never get back on it’s feet.

I leave you with this video, after you watch it tell me if you think the Sixers should tank the season still.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

It’s fire sale time for 76ers

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On January - 15 - 2010

The quick fix is no longer an option for this team.  The only way, and I mean the only way this team will ever be able to compete at a high level in the NBA is if they have a fire sale.

That means trading away Andre Iguodala. He was given a ridiculous contract worth around 80 Million Dollars with years still remaining. And there is a market for Iguodala our there, for the right price. You certainly won’t be getting back the same type of caliber player and that’s not what you’re looking for. You’re looking for cap space and only cap space in return. This experiment, if you want to call it that, is over, it’s done.  This team, the way it’s built can only be average, and under Eddie Jordan they’ve been well below that.

Trading away Iguodala would allow you to package Brand or Dalembert along with him. And it would clear an awful lot of cap space. Along with, barring a dramatic and unlikely turnaround, a very high draft pick.  All of this happening would put this team in the position to start rebuilding around players like Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young and Maressee Speights.

The next step would be to fire Eddie Jordan. The Sixers can no longer try to tailor players to a system, they must bring in a head coach whose going to tailor a system to the type of players and athletes already here.

Keeping Elton Brand or Samuel Dalembert is not the end of the world. Both have played well at times and it’s much easier to have only one of them on the floor as opposed to both. Brand has been good at both ends of the floor practically all season long whether anyone wants to admit that or not. Dalembert’s game has picked up since the return of A.I, and aside from his niche for goaltending, Dalembert is an average defensive player at Center.

As far as Iverson goes, he’ll be here the remainder of the year and that can’t hurt. In fact, he’s only helped this team on and off the court. He’s been a professional player and teammate, I’m willing to eat crow on this move. I never dreamed that Iverson would be the perfect teammate. And throughout the rest of the season he can only help guys like Louis Williams and Jrue Holiday further their games.

To make this fire sale work you may have to part with someone like Young or Speights if you wish to keep Iguodala. Though the return, cap space wise, will be better if you trade Iguodala. Iguodala is a fine player and could help a team whose on the cusp of a championship , a team who needs a side kick for whomever their superstar is.  Houston and Dallas have been mentioned recently, though if Iguodala is said to be on the market, you’ll have a few other teams who have legitimate interest.

It’s tough to swallow pride and admit that this just isn’t working and there is no fixing it with the pieces you have now. The only hope is that Ed Stefanski is able to realize this is the only way to fix things.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

Change has got to come for Sixers

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On January - 12 - 2010

Wins are nice, and whenever the Sixers can manage to string together a little winning streak they’re even better.This is still not a good team, nor is it a team that’s “one piece” away from contending. At the beginning of the season most people thought this team was good enough to compete for perhaps the 6th spot in the East. Though, here we are nearly mid-way through January and the Sixers have 12 wins.

True, they’ve had their fair share of close games and games they let slip away. However, that proves what kind of team they really are, and I can’t imagine there is much debate.  Giving good teams a run for their money is great, losing close games to those caliber teams is to be expected. Building up 20 point leads is nice too, though giving them up nearly every time is an alarming trend.

No doubt, this team is heading backwards. Ed Stefanski refused to give Eddie Jordan a vote of confidence, and that’s a good first step. You must be willing to change for change to actually occur. I believe Stefanski has realized the error of his ways. Proof of that is his constant talks with other teams regarding trades. He’s been trying to unload all the bad contracts the Sixers have, whether they be his doing or not. The Sixers are showing they aren’t blind, that they know a change must be made. You may think that’s an obvious notion, but some teams believe in their plan to the bitter end.

What’s it going to take to change this team?

Well it certainly can’t be done with only one trade or one signing. The team needs an overhaul and it starts at Head Coach. The Sixers need to bring someone in with a vision, not a system, but a vision for success. Someone whose going to tailor his system to the players here, or someone whose going to be able to get the players he wants for his system. Forcing it either way won’t work, and we’re seeing the end result of that right now.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow Me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

Best of the Decade – 76ers

Posted by Dany Sloan On January - 4 - 2010

This past decade began with the highest of highs for the Sixers, but ended with a dwindling fanbase that mostly ignored the antics of a terrible team. The return of Allen Iverson hasn’t even been enough to get people interested in a unit with few bright spots. While the end of the ‘00s have left us fans with little to cheer about, the decade as a whole has seen some great play on the court and the superhuman efforts of the franchise’s one true marquee player of the past 10 years.

All-Decade Team

PG: Eric Snow (2000-2004)
SG: Allen Iverson (2000-2006, 2009)
SF: Andre Iguodala (2004-2009)
PF: Kenny Thomas (2002-2005)
C: Dikembe Mutombo (2001-2002)

6th Man: Aaron McKie (2000-2005)

Honorable Mentions: Andre Miller, Chris Webber, Samuel Dalembert, George Lynch, Thad Young

Head Coach: Larry Brown

Top 3 Players of the Decade

1. Allen Iverson - As the last decade began, Iverson was at the apex of his career. The Sixers were one of the best teams in the NBA, and while it wasn’t always easy, they muscled their way to the Finals that year against heavy favorites the Lakers. He led the team with his play and his heart, and Philadelphia loved him until the day he quit in ’06. He was the league’s MVP in 2001 and made the All-Star team each year with the Sixers. His monster year came in ’05-’06 when he scored 33 points per game, had 7.4 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.9 steals on shooting that sat just below 45%. We all know how good he was and those of us who thought he would be a distraction when he returned to the team this season are probably surprised that he’s just one of the guys. It seems that our AI has grown up.

2. Aaron McKie – Philadelphia born and raised, this is my sentimental pick, but with good reason. A good team needs dependable guys on the bench, and while he was with the Sixers, McKie was a guy that you could depend on. He picked up the 6th Man award in ’00-’01 with some absolutely stellar play. He played in all but 6 games, and averaged 11.6 PPG, 4.1 assists, and 5 rebounds, with a 77% success rate from the free throw line. Now a coach with the team, he’s a guy that always played hard and made a difference every night.

3. Andre Iguodala - I didn’t know what to make of him when he was drafted, and although he will never be a player of the other AI’s caliber, Iggy has show growth over the past 5 years. He’s been the face of the franchise for the past few years, and a player that had steadily improved to become a star. Over his career here, he’s started in all but 6 games. Discounting his first 2 seasons, his PPG has held court around 19 on a 43% average. His other numbers are just as strong: 1.8 steals, 4.5 assists, and 5.8 rebounds. Although he’ll never be a true #1, he has shown the ability to lead the team.

Top Moments of the Decade

The run to the 2001 NBA Finals – This run was full of highlights, and it was the last Sixers team to really bring the entire city together. We all know how huge Iverson was, but the reason the team got as far as they did was due to the contributions of everyone on the team. Mutombo was a beast at center whose finger-wagging after a block was just as memorable as the act of sending the ball the other way. Eric Snow and Aaron McKie were role-players who elevated their games to new levels. And finally, you can’t forget the excellent job Larry Brown did as coach.

Iverson steps over Tyronn Lue (June 6, 2001) – Iverson has never been better than he was in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. After he crossed-over Tyronn Lue and hit the jumper, Lue fell down only to have AI step over him. It was a brilliant moment. If it happened now, it would likely result in a technical.

Iggy hits game-winning 3-pointer (March 17, 2009) - As the season was winding down, the Sixers found themselves in playoff contention due to a once again weak Eastern Conference. In Los Angeles, they were in a tight contest against a lethargic Lakers, down by just 2 in the game’s waning moments. For the last shot of the game, Iggy was able to get open, grab the inbound pass, and drain the 3-poiners for a win. It was a gutsy move, but it worked and the Sixers solidified their grip on the 6th seed.

“We talkin’ about pracice” (May 8, 2002) - Despite his great play, Iverson was never a model teammate. He had run-ins with the law, arguments with coaches and teammates, and he frequently blew off practices and team events. This infamous press conference occurred after he skipped too many practices, and was called out by both coach Larry Brown and the media.

The Sixers in very early 2010 are a team in disarray – there’s no way around it. Eddie Jordan is doing an awful job coaching, Samuel Dalembert is an albatross contractually and on the court, and Iguodala is a very good #2 player, but not the star the team needs to guide it. Looking deeper, you can see a new nucleus forming that could be the team’s championship core of the future. Players like Marreese Speights and Jrue Holiday are young and hungry, and if they’re supplemented with the right coach a true #1, who knows where they could go?

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