Thursday , Jul , 05 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Sixers fans can’t be happy

(Sports Network) – Thaddeus Young, Jason Smith, Derrick Byars and Herbert
Hill. Are Philadelphia 76ers fans jumping for joy with the additions of
those four players after the NBA Draft concluded?

To say this is an important offseason for the franchise and team president
Billy King is an understatement. When King dealt All-Star guard Allen Iverson
to Denver on December 19, 2006, he started to steer the Sixers in
a new direction. King acquired a pair of 2007 first-round picks, point guard
Andre Miller and forward Joe Smith, who is an unrestricted free agent, from
the Nuggets.

Miller and Joe Smith fit in well with the nucleus of the roster, and the
Sixers actually played much better as a team after the trade. Philadelphia had
three first-round picks (12, 21, 30) and a second-round selection (38) in this
year’s draft. King tried to move up and secure an earlier pick, but was
unsuccessful.

Young played just one season at Georgia Tech and has a great up-side, while
the seven-foot Jason Smith is expected to help on the boards. The Sixers hope
Byars can add some offense, and the 6-10 Hill will make the squad as a reserve
forward.

Wow! Sixers fans are probably very excited now. King dropped the ball big
time! He had to move up in the draft and do something that would attract
attention and draw interest from the fan base. He failed to do that, and did
not make his squad any better by staying where he was on draft night.

Reportedly, Philadelphia wanted to move up to No. 6 and select Yi Jianlian of
China. After that failed, King was rumored to be trying to make a move with
Chicago, which would have landed Florida’s Joakim Noah in the City of
Brotherly Love.

What happened? Why didn’t King get the job done?

King is trying to build the team around Andre Iguodala, who averaged 18.2
points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 76 games this past season. The
athletic Iguodala is a talented player, but questions still remain as to
whether he can be the go-to guy for a winning team.

The 31-year-old Miller averaged 13.4 points and 7.8 assists in 80 contests for
Philadelphia and Denver. He involved his Sixers’ teammates more in the offense
and had them playing like a team. When Iverson was around, the 76ers would
stand around and watch the explosive guard do his thing. Iverson dominated the
ball.

Head coach Maurice Cheeks, who will be on the bench for his third season in
Philadelphia, is trying to win with defense. Center Samuel Dalembert, who
registered 10.7 points and a team-best 8.9 boards in 2006-07, is the
catalyst in the middle on the defensive end of the court, and Iguodala is also
a solid defender who creates easy points in transition with steals.

Dalembert, Iguodala, Miller and sharp-shooting Kyle Korver, who averaged 14.4
points and shot 43 percent from beyond the arc, are the core of the roster.
They are all solid players, but are not going to make any other teams in the
NBA shake with fear.

No one, including Iguodala should be untouchable. King had some assets that
could have allowed him to make a splash at the draft. While Miller made the
Sixers a better team, he has played eight seasons and will most likely not be
around when the club turns the corner and gets back to the postseason. The
deal has to be great for King to part with Iguodala. As for Korver and
Dalembert, let’s just say they shouldn’t be deal breakers if it means
acquiring a player that the team covets.

The Sixers don’t have the ability to make a big signing through free agency.
The salary cap room is just not there. Sure, they will be able to add a
veteran who can help, but it won’t be a player who will make a difference.

Joe Smith averaged 8.5 points and 6.2 boards with the Nuggets and Sixers last
season, and may resign with club. However, Chicago and Houston are rumored to
be interested. The veteran forward could opt to ink a deal with the Bulls or
Rockets, as both teams should be back in the playoffs in 2008.

Center Marc Jackson, who spent some time with Philadelphia in the past, and
forwards Malik Allen and Calvin Booth is the caliber of player the team will
be looking at in free agency. Darko Milicic, who collected 8.0 points and 5.5
rebounds for Orlando this past season, would be a nice addition, but he will
most likely command too much money.

Trades. That is how King is going to get the 76ers back. Jianlian may end up
being available, as his representatives would like him to play in a bigger
market than Milwaukee. But what can King trade?

The Bucks would laugh at an offer of Young, Jason Smith, Byars and Hill. It is
going to take some creativity on King’s behalf if he really wants Jianlian.
Doesn’t Milwaukee need a point guard?

King is on the hot seat this season. There are no more excuses. He is trying
to put his stamp on the team, and better do something to get the interest of
the fans.

Philadelphia is not a patient city. The draft did nothing to excite anyone who
likes the Sixers. It doesn’t look good early on. King better do something big
and positive this offseason, or he will surely be looking for a new job by
next year’s draft.

PHI