Inside the Sixers: 76ers finally make some big offseason moves

Elton Brand's disappointing tenure with the 76ers came to an end Friday. RON CORTES / Staff
Elton Brand's disappointing tenure with the 76ers came to an end Friday. RON CORTES / Staff
Posted: July 09, 2012

The 76ers looked as if they were playing possum - or dead, even - in the early stages of free agency. In fact, their secondary move of re-signing center/forward Lavoy Allen created more ripples than their lukewarm decision to re-sign Spencer Hawes to a two-year deal.

But when the Sixers finally agreed to use the one-time amnesty provision on Elton Brand, removing his $18 million salary from the books, the Sixers demonstrated that they are indeed looking to improve the roster to the degree that they can.

They have said goodbye to Brand and Lou Williams, leaving some obvious gaps in the roster. However, the good news is that there is still time left to address these troublesome areas.

Waiving Brand, while not an easy decision for Sixers coach Doug Collins to make, appears to have been the right move. Despite Brand's diminishing skills, Collins knows that he is losing the most respected player in his locker room. However, the reasons to waive Brand simply outweighed his value to the team.

While Brand was at one time a legitimate MVP candidate (during the 2005-06 season Brand averaged 24.7 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game), the player who former Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski signed to a $79 million deal was recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon and would never, ever approach being the difference maker he once was.

In the mind of Sixers majority owner Joshua Harris - owner of an equity business with more than $75 billion in assets under management - the 11.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game Brand generated in his fourth year with the Sixers simply couldn't be justified.

In using the amnesty provision on Brand, the Sixers also freed up more money - about $7 million - to pursue other available players, a good thing considering that Brand's departure creates a hole at power forward.

While they believe they acquired a keeper when they traded with Miami for the draft rights to 6-foot-11 Arnett Moultrie in exchange for the 45th pick in the draft and a future lottery-protected pick, the plan wasn't and isn't to have Moultrie in the starting lineup for the season opener. The Sixers still need a legitimate starting power forward and will continue to look for one in free agency.

And while Jrue Holiday demonstrated during the playoffs - especially in the first round - that he may very well be the Sixers' best player, the Sixers could stand to address the absence of a legitimate backup for him. This need isn't as glaring as the need at power forward, mostly because the Sixers became comfortable in letting Evan Turner handle more of the ballhandling duties - a role that also allows Holiday to play off the ball. But the Sixers still don't want to begin the season without another legitimate point guard option on the roster.

The re-signing of Hawes to a two-year, $13 million deal didn't exactly go over well with Sixers fans, but what other option did they have at center? Last season, rookie Nik Vucevic had moments when he looked like anything but a rookie, until the final stretch of the season when he had the look of a deer in headlights. For Collins, starting Vucevic - or the undersize Allen - were not viable options.

For this reason, Hawes, who began the season on a tear but never regained that form after missing 29 games with a sore Achilles tendon and back injuries, is not a bad option in a league where there are few quality centers.

Hawes' deal is just for two years, so it's also a tradable contract, giving the Sixers leverage to make moves if they are dissatisfied with Hawes down the road.

The Sixers rolled the dice on Nick Young, 27, a versatile 6-7 player who can swing between shooting guard and small forward. Young, who averaged 14.2 points last season, is a decent shooter but more of a scorer. Like Lou Williams, whom he's basically replacing, Young will provide the Sixers with an offensive threat off the bench and at times will make even the staunchest Williams fans happy that he's a Sixer.

The drawback with Young, who is signed for just one season at $6 million, is that he's a better player in a less-structured offense, not the type of disciplined, cutting style the Sixers like to deploy. And defensively, much like Williams, he sometimes looks disinterested.


Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com, or follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer. Read his blog, "Deep Sixer," at www.philly.com/deepsixer

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