Continuing our new tradition, I sent some questions to Ricky of Sixers4Guidos, easily the best Sixers blogger in all of Italy. Seriously, how big a fan is this guy not only to follow the Sixers, but also blog about them from 6 time zones away? Ricky also happens to be a big Clippers fan and a Citizen of ClipsNation, so it's particularly nice to host him today. Sometimes Ricky's writing may seem like his first language isn't English (cuz, um, it isn't) and he told me I could clean it up if I wanted to. But the guy knows his Sixers, and I find his prose charming. So what you see is what you get.
ClipperSteve: Andre Miller is easily one of the least liked players in Clippers' history. He was part of a team that failed to reach some pretty high expectations, and he was at the center of some horrible team chemistry. He just never seemed to be enjoying himself. But the guy can play. What do Sixers fans think of Andre Miller? And what's the latest on those trade rumors?
Ricky: Sixers fans generally like Andre Miller and even who is not a great fan of him at least respects what he's doing. Some say we never had a true PG like him since Maurice Cheeks (when Mo was a player of course, LOL), which seems an overstatement to me, but anyway... I like Miller a lot, btw.
I know that Clippers fans associate him to a horrible team and he received (and still receives, I see) a lot of blame for that. It seems kind of weird to me, maybe he was simply put in a bad situation and couldn't manage it, because in all the other teams he played (Cavs, Nuggets, now Sixers) he's appreciated. In general, I like him.
Miller is now involved in many trade rumors and this because a) he's one of the few assets we have, a solid player in a role where many playoffs teams need help (Cavs, the same Nuggets - imagine a comeback there after a year !! - , Orlando, even Boston etc) and 2) his contract is expiring in the summer of 2009 and he makes 10 mill per year until then. This means by trading him now Sixers will free even more cap space.
Now according to Sixers' GM Stefanski, after trading Korver for Gordan "4 millions expiring" Giricek, Sixers will be 10 mill UNDER the cap this summer (Webber's, Ollie's, Mc Kie's deals will come off the books - yes, they all are still on our payroll... thank you Billy King ! - for a total of around 30 millions expiring) and we will be the frachise with more money to invest in the free agent market (add Memphis to the list after the Gasol trade, but you got the point).
That's why many Sixers fans would trade Miller NOW, to free even more cap space, and give the emerging Lou Williams the starting PG spot or get another playmaker through the draft. Of course trading Miller would make the team worse in the short term but this won't hurt these fans because it would mean more ping pong balls in the lottery...
Personally I am for keeping Miller for many reasons, the main one is that you won't find many PGs better than him and that teams with a core of young players need a veteran presence, then because Lou Williams is an amazing talent but to me he's not ready to be a starter and, last but not least, Andre Miller will be even more than the current trading asset NEXT year, when his 10 millions will definitely come off.
ClipperSteve: I must admit, I've watched the Sixers maybe once since Iverson left. At 19-30, the team is only one game out of the final playoff spot in the East. Not to be mean or anything, but is this team any good, or is the East simply that bad?
Ricky: Sixers suck, definitely. If you Take Botosn, ODetroit and Orlando out, the conference is so weak it's unbelievable. The few good things that happened in this season so far are: the improvements made by many of our key players (Iguodala, Lou Williams, even Dalembert) and the talent showed by our rookies, mainly Thaddeus Young, who recently become a starter, and PF/C Jason Smith.
Imagine that Reggie Evans started at PF for 44 of our 50 games, while Willie Green started at SG all the 44 games he played, and you get my point: we suck. We are talking about two decent role players (at best), good maybe for a 7th-8th man spot, that "had" to start and get extended playing time for basically the whole season.
Current Sixers play hard for 48 minutes, never give up and have a nice team attitude, but are the only team in the history of the League that lacks BOTH low post scoring AND outside/3 pt shooting (last in the NBA for pctg...). Basically we can score easily only in transition, which is the thing that we do best. Clippers fans will see that with their own eyes, you guys count how many back-to-the-basket field goals and how many three pointers we'll score !!
ClipperSteve: 14 months after the Iverson trade, how do the Sixers feel about it? Is the rebuilding on course? How have the rookies (Thaddeus Young and Jason Smith) looked? What free agents will the team target with their cap space next summer (and don't say Elton Brand or Corey Maggette)?
Ricky: the rebuilding is on, definitely, and when Stefanski took Billy King's job (beginninng of December) it speeded up. I was ok with the Iverson trade and still think we got a fair package for Allen (Andre Miller, Joe Smith's expiring 8 millions + two 1st round picks). The future seems brighter now, we have a young, athletic team that is often exciting to watch, we will finally be a big player in the free agent market after many years and we hired a GM with apparently a brain, which is already an upgrade over Billy King (LOL).
Stefanski said that the priority in the offseason will be getting "a scoring PF" (wow !! who could have said that? It seems that Reggie Evans doesn't fit with the description...). I don't know if we will get him through the draft or signing a free agent, anyway Sixers fans often metion Elton Brand (sorry...) but our dream will be Atlanta's Josh Smith, that btw had two UNBELIEVABLE games vs us this year, totally dominating on both ends of the floor. Emeka Okafor wouldn't hurt also...
Josh Smith is a RESTRICTED free agent (same situation of Iguodala) so keeping Iguodala and adding him in the same summer sounds more like wishful thinking than a real option.
One could also rightfully think that Hawks would be NUTS not to keep Smith, but what gives us some hope is Atlanta's uncertain ownership sitation, Atlanta's log jam at the wings (Horford always stated that he's actually a PF, but he has to play C this year, then you have Josh Smith - a combo forward to me, that could easily cover the PF spot in the East, ala Shawn Marion - Marvin Williams, Shelden Williams, Josh Childress etc), Atlanta's GM (LOL) and the fact that after all this is the League where Lakers can get an all star for a double cheeseburger and a Pepsi.
Of course keeping Iguodala (restriced free agent) will be a must and remember he turned down a reportedly 5 yrs-57 millions offer last summer... so maybe resigning him would be tougher than we thought, anyway we hope that other franchises will remain in cap hell and won't be able to offer him anything that we couldn't match.
We will have to add a couple of shooters too, even coming off the bench, to solve the perimeter issues.
No, Corey Maggette is never mentioned here, we already have a lot of swingmen (Iguodala, Young, Carney etc) and I think Sixers are going in a different direction. We will need a stud big man first + a true PG, if Miller will be traded.
One big question mark will be coaching too, Cheeks's is in the last year of his contract and nobody knows his destiny, perhaps the same Stefanski hasn't decided yet. Mo is not exactly a great bball mind in my opinion but players like him a lot, listen to him and always give 100% effort, which is nice to see also from a fan's point of view. So no lame duck situation here.
To his credit, he has to coach a team with many, evident, weaknesses and that everybody picked to fight for avoiding the last place in the conference, so the current 20-30 record (1/2 game away from the playoffs... imagine that) could easily be considered overachievement... that's the (pretty sad) picture of this storied franchise, that is starving for some winning seasons !