Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Looking into the possibilities of the Sixers offseason

By:Ryan Clement ... 76pack.blogspot.com

With the NBA free agency period beginning today, I'm going to look into the possibilities that lay ahead for the 76ers and what they could potentially mean for us this upcoming season...

First things first...Andre Miller, one of your teams best players and starting point for the past 2 seasons is an unrestricted free agent. Word is that he is looking for a 3 year deal, at about 10 million per...which is a hefty price tag and also a little longer than you'd like to sign a 33 year old point guard to. Ed Stefanski should have bit the bullet and traded him away for something of use at the deadline but will now have to fight with his inner Billy King demons and play hard ball with Miller and his agent, because honestly, there aren't many teams with cap space and much of a market for Miller either.I will now attempt to take you through a few possible scenarios for this off season and the pros and con's of each...

Scenario 1:

Ed Stefanski and company play a little hardball, and make Miller and his agent realize there isn't a huge market out there for Miller(especially based off his $$$ wants) and are able to work out a fair deal and resign Andre Miller to a 2 year contract...ideally somewhere in the realms of 2yrs/16 million.(paying 8 million annually for the mathematically inclined readers)

-Pros:This scenario would keep this teams chemistry mainly intact and bring back the teams reigning floor general.While there will still be a learning curve for the team with a new offensive system being installed by new head coach Eddie Jordan,Miller's knowledge of the game and his supporting cast could help bode well for everyone.Miller would be able to continue to run this team well, and also serve as a great teacher to the rookie Jrue Holiday, who hopefully will reap the benefits from playing behind such a savvy true point guard and be ready to take the reigns as the franchise PG after Millers contract expires in 2 years.

If the team could truly grasp Eddie Jordan's princeton offense for what its worth, and stay healthy we could potentially see the 76ers in a 2nd round playoff match up for the 1st time in awhile.

-Cons:Andre Miller has a very high basketball IQ, but his game doesn't translate that well with the princeton offense and the sixers hopeful personnel in my opinion.

Hes a great passer and has good vision, but it is best served and used in the open court.Now,The Sixers will still likely get out and run on every transition opportunity possible but when in half court sets Miller tends to work best in isolation situations...which is far from what the princeton preaches.He doesn't work tremendously well off ball and has limited shooting ability outside of 17-18 feet which hurts with spacing. Also take into account that Miller doesn't work the pick and roll particularly well (which Elton Brand excels in) and with so much attention being put into learning Jordans new offense, the lack of Dre's defensive ability hurts on the other end...Miller found himself the poster child of much younger, quicker point guards' big games and highlight reel crossovers alot last year.

Scenario 2:

One of the teams with actual cap room and potential interest in Miller, are the Portland Trailblazers.While they have space, they are looking to add Hedo Turkoglu via FA, so in order to maximize their cap space, a sign and trade would likely be necessary to land Miller.

SO,Andre Miller signed and traded to the Portland Trailblazers in exchange for PG-Steve Blake and either Travis Outlaw or Martell Webster...

Pros:I'll be the first to say Steve Blake is NO Andre Miller, nor a top tier starting point guard in the NBA,BUT Blake is a solid starter/rotational point.He could very well be the perfect stopgap point guard to replace Miller for 2 years until Jrue Holiday is ready to jump into the starting role. Blake has played under Jordan before, so he knows the In's and outs of the Princeton Offense which could help with the learning curve early on...he's a solid 3 point shooter(40% last year) which helps with the teams horrid perimeter shooting and he's also a pretty good passer as well. Blake's no lock down defender but he plays on ball pressure D and also works very well off ball and in catch in shoot situations, which fits perfectly with both Jordans offense and Iguodala's ability to handle the ball in a point forward like set.

The addition of either Outlaw or Webster would help strengthen this teams bench...which is always a plus, especially with some of the injury issues this team has had. Both would fit in with this teams young,athletic transition game and can also step out and knock down the open shot, which also helps try to strengthen this teams weak perimeter shooting.

This scenario would really be something id like to see, as it fits in with Jordan's system better in my opinion,paves the way out for Jrue Holiday to take the reigns in a year or 2 and also has limited financial risk.

Cons:Losing Miller and bringing in a new starting point guard could ruin some of the teams chemistry sustained over the past 2 1/2 seasons together. Miller carried the team on his back more than a few times last season and while Blake can knock down some shots, but hes rarely going to come up like Miller has in the past and carry the offensive load for stretches of a game. If this scenario was to go down, someone would most certainly have to elevate their offensive games and consistency.

Scenario 3:

-The Sixers brass and Miller fail to see eye to eye on a contract, and Miller walks leaving us with nothing in return except the ability to utilize the full mid level exception...(around 5.5 million)

Pros/Cons:Well I honestly do see many of either. The list of potential targets for the MLE, especially at the point are slim pick ins and if this happens Ed could really catch some heat for not making Miller's expiring contract useful at last years deadline.SG Anthony Parker is rumored to be high on the Sixers list because of his shooting ability at the SG spot,while i love his shooting...wheres that leave Willie Green,Iguodala and Thad??? are we playing small ball all year?,i hope not.

Another name that's popped up lately is former Utah Jazz reserve Ronnie Price, who is rumored to be a plan B for us if Miller walks.

While Price is a good athlete,has shown glimpses of solid passing ability and can knock down an open shot all the way out to the 3...i don't see him coming in and starting.He's never really gotten a chance to play consistent, meaningful minutes and his game seems like it could potentially flourish in an uptempo setting like ours... he'd likely be used in a split role with Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday.

Other names potentially available to fill the void at point are Brevin Knight,CJ Watson and Marcus Williams. Mike Bibby and Jason Kidd are also both unrestricted FA's but are likely to command more than the MLE, or sign with more legit contenders.

Scenario 4:

Miller walks, leaving us with the MLE to use...and Stefanski somehow finds a way to make a sales pitch and lure Mike Bibby to the Sixers for a 2-3 year deal for the full MLE.

Pros:I LOVE this potential idea, but its an absolute long shot in my opinion. Bibby made around 14 million last year, and is highly unlikely to get an offer from Atlanta who drafted Teague and traded for Jamal Crawford... or anyone else for more than the MLE(unless Portland strikes out with all potential FA's) so maybe if the market's low, we could land him.

Bibby played under Jordan in Sacramento, so hes got a knowledge of the princeton just like mentioned with Blake,so it could help ease the learning curve for the team. He's a good shooter and would help with our perimeter woe's as well and unlike Blake is also a proven veteran starting pg in the NBA, so the impact of his could be similar to what Miller brought, but in a different way.He works the pick and pop and pick n roll very well and another big perk is that he has actually led a team to winning a playoff series, which is something Blake nor Miller can claim. This would be my ideal addition, but like I've mentioned, it's a serious long shot.

Cons: Like listed with the Blake scenario...could shake up the teams chemistry.

There are definitely more possible scenarios that could potentially unwind this upcoming off season but these mentioned are just a few that have been mentioned,talked about or rumored to be possibilities.It should be interesting to hear in the coming days if any of these heat up and I'm sure hoping that Stefanski and co are working to get the best possible outcome of the situation...it could be crucial for the Sixers season to come.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Looking ahead to July...what do the Sixers need to do?

By:Ryan Clement...76pack.blogspot.com

Well with all of the talk about the draft and Jrue Holiday as our point guard of the future,im going right ahead and shifting ahead to July 1st when Free Agency begins in the NBA and the remainder of the offseason as well.In my opinion, we need to address a couple things:

-1.Figure out the starting PG situation(Miller,another vet?,Lou or Jrue?)

-2.Add another shooter to the roster.

-3.add a veteran 5 to the roster.

-1.Andre Miller, the teams starting point last season, is an unrestricted free-agent and his future as a Sixer is certainly up in the air.Rumor has it he wants somewhere around 9-10 million per year and at least a 3 year deal.Some big questions you have to ask yourself about Miller:

A. Its alot of money, and would put us very close, if not over the luxury tax

B. Is Miller even worth the 10 million? and if you think so does he really have 3 more productive seasons in him?

C.Does Miller fit in with the new "princeton" offense which will be instilled by Eddie Jordan?

For me, its seeya later Andre Miller. While he is an underrated player in the NBA and really carried this team at times last season, I just dont see how he is worth a 3 year 9-10 million dollar deal. Hes 32 and often plays his way into shape and runs out of gas come playoff time.If he would sign for MLE (5.5 million per) type money, id consider it as hes a solid veteran point guard....but I dont see him as a particulary good fit for the princeton offense and think we will either have to try and get something for him via sign and trade or just let him walk and hope we can convince a veteran to come here for the MLE or just go all out and try a Lou Williams/Jrue Holiday young backcourt for the first half on the season.

Some possible ways we could try to trade/replace Miller:

A.Sign and trade Andre Miller to the Portland Trail Blazers for some type of package of Steve Blake and either Travis Outlaw or Martell Webster.

"Portland is in need for a veteran PG.Miller makes alot of sense there and while Blake is no franchise PG, he does all the little things right. He can hit the open man, knock down the open shot and not turn the ball over...A shared backcourt of Blake/Lou Williams/Holiday could certainly keep this team on a winning track while Jrue develops.Blake also adds another shooter to the lineup which we need. Outlaw or Webster would bring some depth and athleticism to the perimeter off the bench, Both can knock down the jumper and also fit in with our transition game, plus neither are really financial hits."
This trade would really give us a nice, young deep bench as well:
Starting Lineup:
C -Dalembert
add a veteran in 5 and Dionte Christmas as a undrafted rookie FA and thats a solid young 14 man roster.

B.Make a pitch to Mike Bibby whos an unrestricted FA.

"The Hawks are awfully close to being over the Lux Tax and recently traded for Jamal Crawford who makes around 9 million per year and also drafted Jeff Teague out of Wake Forrest. Add in Joe Johnson and Mo Evans and Id have to think the chances of Atl resigning Bibby are slim to none. Maybe we could make a pitch to Bibby and sign him to a 1 or 2 year MLE deal or some type of Sign and trade for Louis Williams.

He has a working knowledge of Jordans offense from his Sacramento days, is a veteran pg whos won playoff games and can also shoot the ball which fits both a need for our team and a strength for the princetons success in Philly. He could be a solid pickup as a 1 or 2 year rental untill Jrue Holiday is ready to take over the reigns."

C.Let Miller walk.

"Letting Miller walk would be tough...and would leave us with pretty much the mid level exception(5.5 million) to add a player. With Andre Iguodala being such a solid facilatator he could help with the ball handling duties,and we could potentially target another shooter at the SG spot like Anthony Parker, reach out to good ol' Kyle Korver and bring him back...keeping one of him or Kapono on the court at all times would really help with this teams perimeter shooting and spacing...but we'd have a really young PG rotation though, with Lou Williams likely starting off the season and splitting time with rookie Jrue Holiday and a possible veteran addition like Kevin Ollie.Somehow we have to find some type of veteran point for the roster just to stabilize the probable growing pains of 2 young players learning the position"

-2.Adding another shooter is necessary too. Jason Kapono was a solid pickup and certainly helps boost our horrendous perimeter shooting, but we need another player to drill the 3 as well.

Maybe we can land a shooter via sign and trade for Dre Miller,If Miller walks possible with the MLE or even just an undrafted rookie like Dionte Christmas whos accepted our invitation to the summer league. Somehow, someway we need to add another shooter to the roster tho, ideally at the PG spot.

-3.Theo Ratliff would be have been a great resign as a reserve 5, but he exploded after the embarassing loss to Orlando and is likely gone. There arent too many solid Defensive 5's out there that can be had for the veterans min., but with Dalemberts future up in the air and no other true center on the team, we need to add at least a big body down low. If not you can kiss a playoff series goodbye especially with Shaq coming to the east, KG coming back from injury and Dwight Howard's only getting better.

it should be an interesting Off season for the Sixers as they have a big decision to make about Andre Miller and then figuring out who replaces him if he leaves and also filling the minor holes/spots in the roster.Hopefully Ed Stefanski will stay aggressive and try to put together the best possible lineup for October.

Sixers make draft night a future Holiday...

By:Ryan Clement...BasementHoops215.blogspot.com

On Thursday June 25,2009 at 7:30pm, The 2009 NBA Draft kicked off at Madison Square Garden in New York city. The consensus #1 pick Blake Griffin went to The LA Clippers, but after that the draft was pretty much as unpredictable as predicted. There were some questionable picks like the Timberwolves run of 3 straight pg's in the 1st round,way to make a splash in your first draft as GM David Kahn.

But then came the bright spot of the NBA draft for myself and other knowledgeable Sixer fans,Jrue Holiday began to slip.His name had been mentioned a few months back by a few of us diehards over at the Sixer forums on RealGm.com(greatest forum for Sixer Hoops hands down)before he became so highly touted ...but I for one did not see it coming as he was being mentioned by alot of teams as a lock for the lottery, as high as 4th and as low as 10th.The Knicks took Jordan Hill,then DeRozan to the Raps at 9,Jennings goes to Milwaukee at 10...OUCH! leaving Holiday as the top ranked PG remaining and still 6 picks to go. I surely thought he'd be snatched up by Inidana or Phoenix leaving us with the choice of the consensus Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague or Eric Maynor....but then Hansbrough goes to Indiana and I suddenly had a bit of hope that a lottery level talent in a weak draft class could possibly fall into our laps at 17.A run of SG/SF's goes and after I heard James Johnson's name called by Chicago at 16, I began to pace back and forth in anxiousness around my tv praying that Ed Stefanski and the Sixers would see the oodles of potential in Jrue Holiday and swing for the home run instead of the single in Lawson or Maynor. 5 minutes later, ITS OUTTA HERE, as David Stern announced that the Philadelphia 76ers selected Jrue Holiday at 17.

Jrue Holiday is a young player and far from complete, but similar to Thaddeus Young who I was very high on pre-draft of 07, he's oozing with star potential. Hes got great NBA size for a point guard at 6'4 205 lbs and a 6'7" wingspan allowing him to be a force on defense as well.Jrue has lock down defender potential and could become one of the top defensive point guards Ala Rajon Rondo in a few years. He was forced to play out of position in his fresh season at UCLA because of senior Darren Collison, but is definitely a point guard. He's got solid vision, good passing ability and ball handling,a good athlete, is a great defender and while his shot was somewhat inconsistent...he has range out to the NBA 3 and good textbook mechanics on it so he should be able to improve his shot greatly with some solid coaching. I believe by mid season he will be a steady contributor just like Thad was in his rookie year,If Royal Ivey found time to get on the court last season, Jrue will definitely crack the rotation even if its just for hustle and Defense...as he is already at 19 head and shoulders above Ivey in terms of skill and talent.

All in all, this was a GREAT pick by Philly and the steal of the draft in my opinion. The value of this kids pro potential at 17 is ridiculous, the basketball gods must have been looking out for Philadelphia last night because 3 years from now when Jrue Holiday is the franchise point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers, people will look back and say we got the steal of the 2009 NBA draft.