Thursday , Mar , 04 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

The time has come for the Sixers to clean house

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Philadelphia president and general manager
Billy King should be very active during the offseason.

The Sixers are in serious danger of missing the playoffs for the first time
since the 1997-98 campaign, which was former head coach Larry Brown’s first
season with the team.

It has been a trying year for Philadelphia. After just 52 games, King fired
first-year head coach Randy Ayers, who had guided the 76ers to a disappointing
21-31 record, and replaced him with assistant Chris Ford.

All-Star guard Allen Iverson has missed 18 games with various injuries, while
forward Glenn Robinson, who was acquired in the offseason from Atlanta in a
four-team deal, has complained about playing time and has not lived up to
expectations.

The 28-year-old Iverson has struggled with his shooting this season, hitting a
career-low 38.6 percent of his shots from the floor in 43 games. He has
averaged 27 points and 6.6 assists, but the standings don’t lie.

Robinson, 31, has averaged career-lows in points (16.9), rebounds (4.6), and
minutes (32.3) in 41 games for Philadelphia. He was supposed to be the second
scoring option that the 76ers were looking for.

The Iverson/Robinson experiment has failed.

Last offseason, Philadelphia signed undersized power forward Kenny Thomas to a
lucrative multi-year deal, and then gave 36-year-old center Derrick Coleman a
new contract. Thirty-year-old Eric Snow, who was acquired by the Sixers from
Seattle in January 1998, signed a contract extension that will take him into
the 2008-09 season.

Let’s not forget about 31-year-old Aaron McKie, whose play has dropped
dramatically since his breakout season in 2000-01 when he won the NBA’s Sixth
Man of the Year award. He still has four years left on his current contract.

Coleman, Iverson, McKie, Robinson, Snow and Thomas were the players that King
was banking on to lead Philadelphia back to the postseason for the sixth
straight season.

The time has come to rebuild in Philadelphia, which did not make a move at the
trading deadline on February 19th. King made a wise choice by not making a
trade; at least now he can explore all of his options carefully and won’t be
forced to make a hasty decision.

One problem will be finding trading partners — many of the Sixers best
players are veterans on the down side of their careers. Another problem is
that the team also has long-term deals.

Step one in the rebuilding process will have to be to trade Iverson, who
signed a new multi-year deal for the maximum in the offseason. Iverson, who
has a reputation for missing team practices, is a big draw on the road. Fans
pay to come and see him play. The All-Star guard is very talented, but he does
come with excess baggage and a big contract.

A team like the Los Angeles Clippers, who have to compete for fan support with
the Lakers, may be willing to take Iverson.

Trading Robinson may not be as difficult, as the Purdue product has just one
year left on his current contract. How about keeping Robinson and letting him
leave after the 2004-05 season and gaining valuable salary cap space. Holding
on to Robinson may be the best move.

King is going to have to be very creative in trying to find new homes for
Coleman, McKie and Snow. Philadelphia should keep 26-year-old Kenny Thomas,
who has averaged 11.7 points and 10 rebounds in 53 games this season.

The 76ers have to keep some players. Along with Thomas, King has improving
center Samuel Dalembert, center Marc Jackson, who has been out with a finger
injury, and rookies Willie Green and Kyle Korver.

Green and Korver have both shown potential, but neither player will be stars
and both will most likely spend their careers coming off the bench.

Dalembert, Green, Jackson, Korver and Thomas are not players that a franchise
would want to build around, but they can be pieces to the puzzle. The problem
here is that they are very small pieces.

Don’t forget, King is going to have to find a new head coach. Ford will not be
the general that King selects to lead the troops.

One thing that King must avoid is trading one problem for another. He should
try to acquire players in the last year of their contracts so the team can
free up room under the salary cap. Draft picks will also be attractive to
Philadelphia in any potential trades.

King’s tenure in Philadelphia is in jeopardy if he doesn’t steer the team in
the right direction in the offseason. He will be given the chance to fix
things, but he better get it right this time.

Philadelphia fans will need to be patient, as it is going to get worse before
it gets better.