What do you do to fix a team that at the end of their last season looked to be in total disarray and was considered one of the biggest underachievers in the league in the last five years?
Well, there is a lot that can be done. Trade away the player who has been the face of the franchise for the better part of a decade and move in a new direction? Rebuild around him for the umpteenth time with a supporting cast that will lead the team back to the promise land with unselfish play and good defense?
Or maybe try another head coach for the fifth time in less than five years?
Or they could decide to do nothing to change the team and go into the 2006-07 season exactly the same way they exited the last one. And with three weeks until the tip-off of the season, the Philadelphia 76ers have done just that, nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The off-season was filled with trade rumors and subtle threats from management that the team was going to be changed drastically for this season.
Star player and first overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, Allen Iverson was the topic of rampant trade rumors. The Sixers fielded offers from virtually half of the league’s teams involving numerous players and salary dump situations but nothing happened.
Then the decision was made not to trade Iverson. That the franchise would give it another shot with Iverson, arguably one of the leagues best players, manning the backcourt for the 11th straight season with the team.
It was assumed the team was going to bring in some new talent, some flexible, unselfish talent to mix with Iverson so the team could go back to it’s ways of spotlighting Iverson in the offense and playing hard defense at the other end, the way that got them to the 2001 NBA Finals. But that didn’t happen either.
A new coach manning the 76ers bench is virtually inconceivable, as they have had practically zero consistency at the post since Larry Brown left following the 2003 season.
So what exactly did the 76ers do this off-season besides speculate and spread rumors? They brought in traditional good-guy, Alan Henderson to be a role player off of the bench, but he isn’t exactly in his prime anymore being this is his 12th year in the league.
In the draft, the Sixers picked Rodney Carney with the 16th pick in the draft and Bobby Jones in the second round. Both players have similar styles (hustling defenders with quick feet and good hands) and very similar bodies, (6 feet, 7 inches, 210 pounds), which can be added to the young nucleus the team already has in place which included Andre Iguodala, Kyle Korver and Samuel Dalembert.
The 76ers success this season depends on, as it always seems to, the play of Allen Iverson. His leadership and willingness or lack-there-of to distribute the ball to his teammates could take Philadelphia far, or keep them stuck in their same underachieving ways. Look for the trade rumors to turn towards veteran forward Chris Webber in the coming months as his play is directly affected by Iverson’s. His mood will be another thing to watch as the season trudges along.
The talent is there. It always has been. It’s just a matter of putting the necessary pieces together at the right time and place for this team to be successful. With good coaching and happy players, the Sixers can go far, but if we don’t have that, the team could be in for another of it’s lackluster and unexciting campaigns of .500 ball.
The 76ers have much to prove and Philly fans are ready for the action.