Sixers going in different, uncertain direction
Steve Nash goes to the Lakers. The Nets lock up Deron Williams and get another all-star in Joe Johnson. The Celtics add former Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry to their mix and the Knicks corral Jason Kidd.
Those are splashy moves with known names.
The Sixers exercising the amnesty clause on Elton Brand in order to sign Nick Young (see story)
pales in comparison as a headline, but is a clear sign that they're moving on as an organization.
The question is: Where exactly are they headed?
Young is an upgrade from Jodie Meeks as a two-guard that can shoot and score. He was a starter in Washington the past couple seasons before being traded to the L.A. Clippers in mid-March. With the Wizards, he averaged 17 points a game as a starter last year and is a 38 percent three-point shooter for his career.
Young has played against the Sixers 16 times since coming into the league five years ago, shooting 48 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three for 12 points per game.
Will he be a starter for the Sixers? If so, what becomes of Evan Turner’s role? Or does the possibility of an Andre Iguodala trade put Turner at the starting small forward position?
The Young signing apparently brings an end to Lou Williams' career in Philadelphia. The unrestricted free agent, who led the Sixers in scoring last season with 15 points per game, tweeted
, “Philly I appreciate you all. Unfortunately I will not be coming back, as an organization they decided to go in a different direction.”
Williams opted out of the final year of his contract in order to test the market. He had been with the Sixers the past seven seasons after being selected in the second round of the 2005 draft straight out of high school. Last year, he was runner-up in the Sixth Man of the Year voting. His instant offense off the bench and fourth quarter prowess will be missed.
Separately, Brand came to the Sixers in the summer of 2008, accepting a max-contract, but taking less then he could have made had he stayed with the Clippers, with whom he appeared to have a deal. His career in Philadelphia had a rocky start. Despite being a career 20-point, 10-rebound performer, Brand had played just eight games the season before his arrival because of a torn Achilles. Fitting in with a team that was making headway as an up-tempo squad was challenging for the then-30-year-old Brand as a result.
Still, in his first 18 games as a Sixer he averaged 17 points and seven rebounds. Five games later, in mid-December, he dislocated his shoulder, which eventually led to season-ending surgery. His "Philly-Max" contract paid for just 29 games that year.
Brand returned the following season to play for new head coach Eddie Jordan. They were a pair that didn’t see eye-to-eye, but Brand was hardly the only player who failed to meet expectations during a 27-55 season.
It was the arrival of Doug Collins the following year that brought out the best in the aging big man. At Collins' request, Brand changed his off-season workout regiment, becoming a leaner, quicker starting power forward for the Sixers. In 2010-11, he led the team in scoring and rebounding with 15 and 8, respectively.
In his final season, Brand struggled. Maybe it was because of the condensed schedule, or maybe it was because he has little left in the tank at age 33. Still, Brand was a tremendous presence in the locker room, a true pro, bringing the kind of leadership on which you cannot put a price tag.
Early reports suggest there will be substantial interest from a number of other teams once the amnesty is official on July 11 and Brand hits the auction market. Should no team under the salary cap place a bid on him at that time, he will become a free agent. Whatever Brand makes in salary next season will be deducted from the $18.1 million he is owed, with the Sixers paying out the remaining balance.
With Brand gone, it would appear that Thaddeus Young or Lavoy Allen will become the Sixers' starting power forward. Doug Collins has often said Thaddeus Young has starting lineup talent, but given the makeup of last year's roster, Young came off the bench. In his second year in the league, he averaged 15 points and five rebounds, starting in 71 of 75 games in which he played.
Allen made 15 starts last season, including one in the postseason, and looked especially impressive against Kevin Garnett in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The Sixers' roster now has Turner, Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Nick Young, Allen, Jrue Holiday, Nik Vucevic, Spencer Hawes, Maurice Harkless and Arnett Moultrie.
With Brand’s amnesty and the agreed deals with Nick Young and Hawes, the Sixers have some space, and are still in need of a backup point guard.E-mail Dei Lynam at email@example.com