After reading the rumors that persist regarding Eddie Jordan's Philadelphia preference and the decision he may or may not be faced with in the coming days, I have to ask the question- is the Philly job really better than the Kings job? Sure, Philly made the playoffs in a weak, three team Eastern Conference but let us look into the proposition a little closer because we are looking at two imperfect teams, both today and in the future.
Financially, we are looking at two very different teams. While the Kings sit a whopping 13-14 million under the cap this year and a possible 20+ million under for the summer of 2010, the 76ers future looks bleak.
Elton Brand, a one time All-Star is owed 64 million dollars over the next 4 years. The last two seasons, Brand has played a total of 37 games due to a torn achilles tendon and a torn labrum in his shoulder. A quality pro, Brand is now a thirty year old player who is unlikely to regain the physical tools he needs to make up for his size limitations. The 76ers will be regretting the FA acquisition of Brand, similar to the way they regretted the Chris Webber trade.
Samuel Dalembert, an inconsistent, offensively limited defensive specialist regressed mightily in his 7th season as a pro. Owed 25 million over the next two seasons, Dalembert requested a trade at the February deadline this season and again once the season commenced. The 76ers have shopped him and no one is buying- he is their version of Brad Miller financially- an albatross with diminishing value and a two year contract that last into the 2010 FA boon.
Reggie Evans (2yrs/10 mill) and Louis Williams (4 yrs/20+ million) are the 76ers MLE equivalent to Mikki Moore and Beno Udrih. Evans, a gritty ball grabber put up 3.4 points and 4.4 rebounds a game in 14.4 minutes of play- hardly worth the 10 mill owed. Williams is a shooting guard who can’t shoot (39.8% from the field- 28.6% from 3pt). At 22, he might develop into a quality scorer but looks very similar to Larry Hughes without the stellar steal/defensive numbers.
Andre Iguodala is the franchise. A super athlete, Iguodala is the 76ers equivalent of Kevin Martin with a bigger contract. While Petrie negotiated from a position of power, the 76ers waited out Iggy and gave up an additional 18-20 million over what Martin received- good for the player, bad for the team. If Eddie is going to run the Princeton offense, he would probably prefer Martin and his career 38.5% 3pt shooting (41.5 in 2008-09) to Iguodala’s career 32.5 (30.7 in 2008-09).
Andre Miller, a quality point guard with two problems- he is 33 and he is a free agent. With the team already at a 58 million dollar payroll with only 9 players and without its draft picks signed, Miller might be playing elsewhere next season and the 76ers have no one to replace him. Add to this the fact that Miller is a career 21% 3pt shooter and has slowed defensively.
Thadeus Young and Mareese Speights are nice, inexpensive young players with upside. Young made huge improvements in his second season although he played out of position for most of it. At 21, Young’s future is bright but at the same position Iguodala plays. Speights looks like a mid-round steal- big, skilled around the basket and a PER stud. Both of these guys could play important roles in Jordan’s system as complementary players but neither possess the passing skills to run the offense through. Willie Green sort of fits into this group but only because of his unfortunate injury that cost him millions and saved the 76ers millions.
Eddie Jordan might scrap the Princeton offense, making a lot of this analysis moot but the fact still remain- Philly is not in good financial shape now or in the near future. They will have to pay luxury tax dollars if they want to keep Andre Miller, if not, they will have either a rookie or a low budget replacement at the point. Brand may come back and be effective but the odds are against that happening due to age and the type of injuries he sustained. Dalembert want out but no one wants him, the Sixers are poor perimeter shooters and they have no big men with high post skills.
While the Kings had a miserable 17 win season, they have good pieces in place for Princeton style offensive coach (passing bigs and lots of shooters), a top 4 pick, a second first round pick and millions in cap space this year and next. Although the 76ers made the playoffs, they were a .500 team and like the Kings got a coach fired mid-season. Neither of these teams are a coach’s dream but as a hardly impartial Kings fan, I find myself wondering if I was given two offers would I choose the one with young players and cap space or a playoff team, strapped to diminishing players with large long-term contracts.