Inside the Sixers: A full agenda awaits Sixers over the summer

Elton Brand is due $18 million next season. The Sixers could waive him and not have his salary count against the cap, but they would need a viable replacement.
Elton Brand is due $18 million next season. The Sixers could waive him and not have his salary count against the cap, but they would need a viable replacement. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 29, 2012

Judging from the comments made by 76ers managing owner Josh Harris the morning after the Sixers were eliminated by the Boston Celtics just one win from reaching the Eastern Conference finals, the front office was not bamboozled into thinking that the Sixers' deepest playoff run since they reached the NBA Finals in 2001 is reason to go conservatively into the summer.

"This is the big leagues," Harris said from the practice floor Sunday at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "We're going to do what we have to do to make the team better.

"We are prepared to do what we have to do as an ownership group - financially or otherwise - to improve the team. We want to win. We are going to do what we have to do as an ownership group, both intellectually and financially, to make that happen.

"Everything," he continued, "is on the table."

Here's a look at the five things personnel-wise - not including the draft - that will dominate any Sixers conversation during the offseason.

Iguodala - move or stay?

Before putting this guy on the most prominent table at the yard sale, the Sixers have to - and I think they do - understand that he sets their tone defensively. It would be nice to package him for someone who can give them a scoring punch, but in doing that the Sixers are taking a gamble that the defense that so choked off other teams would leave with him.

It is fair to say that Iguodala will never be a go-to guy. But if they do trade the small forward, they had better be prepared for the inevitable defensive slippage.

Amnesty for Brand?

This, too, is not as simple as it seems. Teams are permitted to waive one player under contract and have his salary not count for cap and tax purposes. The team still must pay the waived player.

Sure, the amnesty rule would save the Sixers money. And yes, considering that Elton Brand is due more than $18 million next season - the final year of his contract - the Sixers, who will be close to the cap, could get some significant cap relief.

And Lavoy Allen - a restricted free agent - sure looked good playing power forward at times. But if the Sixers use the amnesty clause for Brand and don't find a legitimate starter to replace him - perhaps someone like the New Jersey Nets' Kris Humphries - this could create a negative domino effect, mostly because they could lose starting center Spencer Hawes as well, and that would be catastrophic.

Let Hawes walk?

After missing a huge chunk of the season because of an Achilles tendon injury, Hawes never returned to the form he flashed that helped energize the Sixers at the start of the season. Had the soon-to-be-unrestricted free agent stayed healthy - who knows? - he would have been in line to perhaps sign a deal worth $7 million to $8 million per season.

The Sixers will have to decide how close he is to his ceiling - he never will be the shot-blocker they'd love to have at the back of their defense - and whether he is worth a long-term commitment.

Williams opting out?

Lou Williams likes Philadelphia, and he is saying all the right things when asked about remaining with the team that drafted him.

All that means nothing.

Williams, 25, who can opt out of the last season of his contract and become a free agent, also knows that opting out after his best season also will give him the rare opportunity to sign two more contracts. His subpar performance in the playoffs will be a red flag for some. Others will recognize that he struggled not only because he was facing the two best defenses in the league in Boston and Chicago, but also because of the Sixers' lack of another offensive threat.

Continue molding Turner

Two seasons with Evan Turner and we now know that the 6-foot-7 point (guard or forward) is the team's best defensive rebounder. He can play point guard for long stretches at a time, and he is capable of the most dynamic performances of anyone on the roster.

But he still can't shoot. And sometimes he and Iguodala still get in each other's way. And we sometimes wonder whether he can coexist in the backcourt with Jrue Holiday.

The pluses and minuses are many. That said, the development of Turner's talent must receive the full commitment of the coaching staff this summer. Year 3 for Turner and the Sixers is crucial.


Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com. Follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.

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