A Measured Reminder About the Sixers' Offseason Options

A Measured Reminder About the Sixers' Offseason Options

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@SixersCEOAdam
Adam Aron Far from easy in NBA to land right free agent or consummate great trade. It will be interesting to see how much progress is made off-season.
May 31 via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Two months ago, I took exception that Sixers CEO Adam Aron would ask fans who the team should keep or jettison for the following season in the midst of a losing streak. 
One of my arguments, though not my most important argument in that case, pointed to how the finances of a basketball team existing under the most complicated CBA in North American sports should not be at all influenced by the whims of fan frustration.
And if I'm going to criticize Aron in that regard, then I would be remiss not to praise him in this instance.

Much like the last time we visited an Aron-Twitter scenario, this tweet was once again born from the management's public admission that it knows work still needs to be done to turn the Sixers into a real contender.
But, unlike last time, his tweets about the team's future were accompanied with the reminder that even hard work and the best of intentions don't guarantee success or, more importantly, the ideal pieces to build a winner.
Since the Sixers' Game 7 loss to the Celtics, the refrains of "trade Iguodala" and "amnesty Brand" have grown louder and more insistent. That said, those sentiments should really be met with the following responses: "for what?" and "for what immediate benefit?"
Trading Iguodala, everyone should be reminded, does not necessarily equal any extra salary cap space given the rules that govern the amount of cash allowed to be traded back and forth, even though last year's reworked CBA now makes it easier for teams to swing uneven deals. Cap concerns aside, the actual talent the team receives in return should be a more important priority then simply moving a player out of town. Sure, the divisive forward's value might currently be the highest it's been in terms of what he could garner in a trade, but a team would still have to make an offer that benefits the Sixers more than keeping Iguodala for it to be taken seriously. Considering the following question: how might Iguodala's contract, combined with his skill set, alter his value come the 2013 trade deadline?
The same logic goes for Elton Brand, who has just one year left on his deal. Unless the Sixers are on the verge of landing a franchise-changing free agent or pulling of a blockbuster deal that requires the extra cash, what cause do the Sixers really have to amnesty Brand now? If he had more than one season left on the deal, this conversation would obviously be different, but is it worth expending the clause just to say it was used? He, too, could actually become an intriguing trade piece for the team as the prospect of an $18 million dollar expiring contract could draw some interest around the league.
The central argument here is that there is plenty more that goes into these decisions beyond "he's old" or "he makes too much money" or "he's a poor shooter." The real question should be: Will part
ing ways with Iguodala and/or Brand actually improve the Sixers' long-term outlook and how?
Just as that argument applies to Brand and Iguodala, it applies to any talent the team could conceivably bring into the fold. Think about the names the Sixers have spent a whole lot of money on in the last decade and consider how those deals worked out -- Brand, by the way, the guy so many want to amnesty, is obviously included in that discussion.
In this case, it isn't about who's available to sign, trade or amnesty, it's about how a player fits with a team's rotation and finances. Change for the sake of change seems far too short-sighted and has proven so for this franchise in the past. 
Yes, there's the idea that the team could totally dismantle and start over, but that takes a conscious and deliberate decision to implode a roster so as to "bottom out" in the mere hopes of landing a star draft pick. That process would require a whole lot more than getting rid of two of the guys who made the Sixers competitive this year and would, more than likely, do the same next year.
So, for as much as criticized Aron for -- what I saw as -- his playing to the frustrations of a fan base back in March, I applaud him now and join him in reminding that same base that prudence should not be confused with failure.

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

The Atlanta Falcons are headed to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history after routing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game.

Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch-and-run for a highlight-reel score by star receiver Julio Jones. The defense played just as crucial a role in containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

Rodgers had 287 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception. But the Falcons got to Rodgers with pressure and forced two Green Bay turnovers. Rodgers was outplayed by Ryan, who even ran for a 14-yard touchdown.

Atlanta will play either New England or Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Houston.

The only other time that Atlanta made the Super Bowl was in the 1998 season. The Falcons lost 34-19 to the Denver Broncos.

The Packers fell in the NFC title game for the second time in three seasons.

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

Two of the country's top prospects faced off in the Pac 12 this week while a top 10 forward saw his season come to a premature close. However, we begin this week with the breakout performance by Jonathan Isaac.

Jonathan Isaac, forward, Florida St. (6-11/205)
Isaac's potential had everyone in the basketball world's curiosity. Now his play on the court has their attention. The Seminoles hosted No. 15 Notre Dame, which had yet to lose in ACC play before the Wednesday game. 

The freshman forward dominated in the 83-80 win. He had 23 points on 7 for 9 shooting from the field. He made both his threes, all seven of his free throws and also had one assist. His other stats were also otherworldly. He picked up 10 rebounds and had seven(!) blocks, including one on a late Notre Dame shot to get back into the game after he'd put the Seminoles ahead with a three. All this was in just 25 minutes

He followed it up with a similar game against Louisville. In 28 minutes, he had 16 points on 4 for 7 shooting, making one three and, again, all seven free throws. Add in two assists and two blocks to aid in the 73-68 win. Isaac has shown himself to be an athletic freak, a potential stretch-four at the next level and one with tremendous defensive potential, displayed with his nine blocks this week.

OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana (6-8/235)
Anunoby has had an uneven season, but he, at the very least, showed flashes of the ability that make him a top player for this year's draft class. However, a knee injury suffered on Wednesday finished off Anunoby's season, forcing him to undergo surgery that will keep him off the court for the rest of Indiana's schedule.

This may knock him out of the 2017 draft entirely. As a freshman last year, his NCAA Tournament performance was enough to make him a lottery pick in an even weaker draft field than the upcoming one. He chose to remain in school and it isn't farfetched to believe he will return to Indiana for his junior year to get more seasoning, a better draft field and another year of education.

Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA (6-6/190)
There are going to be quite a few marquee matchups in the Pac 12. One of the first this year came in the form of UCLA-Arizona in Los Angeles on Saturday. The No. 3 Bruins lost, 96-85, but that had nothing to do with Ball's standout performance (more on the Wildcats below). He pushed the ball in transition, drove to the hole with ease and made 4 of 8 threes with his quirky shot. 

He had 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting and had eight assists, six rebounds, two steals and a block. When you watch Ball score so naturally, it's easy to forget his potential as a point guard, but then he whips up beautiful assists as he did many times on Saturday. The freshman has everything you want in a point guard.

Lauri Markkanen, forward, Arizona (7-0/225)
The No. 14 Wildcats picked up their biggest win of the year, moving to 7-0 in conference play. As you can expect, Markkanen had a big game to push Arizona past UCLA. He had 18 points on 6 for 10 shooting, was 3 for 3 from three and made three free throws, all which grabbing seven boards. Like Isaac, he is a tantalizing talent as a stretch-four, hanging out around the perimeter and spotting up for threes well.

He now has 16 made threes in his last four games and has averaged over seven boards in that stretch. He's not unbelievably thin like many fours his age. The freshman really can battle down low and get his shot, and he justifies his prospect status on a game-by-game basis with his ability.

Markelle Fultz, guard, Washington (6-4/195)
Washington lost on Saturday, moving to 9-10 and 2-5 in conference. But it's worth talking about Fultz's standout Wednesday night. The freshman willed his team back from 17-points down with a 37-point performance en route to an 85-83 OT win over Colorado. In 43 minutes, he was 13 for 24 from the field and 11 for 15 from the free throw line.

Don't think he's just a scorer, though. He had eight assists, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks, doing it all for the Huskies as he usually does. The freshman sensation was 0 for 2 from three, but he is normally efficient from beyond the arc. He alone is the reason to watch the under .500 Huskies.

While the 9-10 Huskies are unlikely to make a late run towards March Madness, the strong Pac 12 should provide many marquee matchups for Fultz. He faces off vs. a stout Arizona team next Sunday afternoon. Six days later, the long awaited matchup between Fultz and Ball up in Seattle goes down with presumably many scouts in attendance.

Quick Hits

Malik Monk, guard, Kentucky (6-4/185)
Twenty-seven points on 9 for 14 shooting, 4 for 7 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, two steals and four turnovers in an 85-69 win over No. 24 South Carolina.

Josh Jackson, guard/forward, Kansas (6-8/203)
Fifteen points on 6 for 14 shooting, 2 for 5 from three, 1 for 3 on free throws, five rebounds, two assists, four steals and six turnovers in a 79-67 win over Texas.

Jayson Tatum, forward, Duke (6-8/204)
Fourteen points on 4 for 9 shooting, 1 for 4 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, three turnovers and five fouls in a 70-58 win over Miami.