I thought it only fitting that the first real post on the ReclinerGM Sports blog be related to big upcoming decisions for new Sixers’ GM – Ed Stefanski. So let me start by setting the stage…
Fact: The Sixers will likely be the only team with enough cap space to be a major player for a big time free agent next summer. Why? 22 NBA teams are either over or within $4 million of the luxury tax threshold. So what, right? You gotta pay to win in pro sports, right? Yes, but the trend of late has owners being more frugal and pulling back the reigns on NBA GMs’ spending sprees.
With that said the Sixers might not have enough money to offer a max deal if:
- They have a large cap hold for a top first-round draft pick. At 10-14 they are only a half game out of the 8th playoff spot. Figure in a weak Eastern Conference, their propensity to compete every night, especially now since everyone is playing for a job next season under Stefanski and this point is still to be determined.
- Stefanski decides to give big deals to both Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams who are both restricted free-agents. Speaking of Iggy, what the hell was he thinking turning down a $57 million contract extension? With Philadelphia the only team out there to pay him big time money it makes his decision that much more DUMB!
First thing to consider – do you re-sign Iggy? More importantly do you pay him more than what was already offered if there happens to be another team competing for him? PSST here’s a hint: HELL NO! You don’t over pay for a non all-star. A guy who is widely considered a 2nd tier player. If that’s not enough, look at his numbers. As his shot attempts go up, his turnovers per game (3.6 – most of his career) are also going up and his shooting % (43.9% – worst of his career) are going down. Don’t get me wrong I want him on the Sixers but not for top superstar money.
Ok, I think you get the picture. Here are what I consider to be the top free agents this upcoming summer worth considering.
Tier 1 Players: These players have an “early termination option” in their contracts and can become unrestricted free-agents.
1. Elton Brand, Clippers – As long as he completely recovers from his Achilles injury he will be the most talented and most coveted player available, not to mention the low-post scorer that has been absent from the Sixers since Charles Barkley.
2. Gilbert Arenas, Wizards – Personally, I love his blog, his personality and his ability to score, but how much different is he than the last real super star (see #6) we had in Philly that everyone gave up on?
3. Shawn Marion, Suns – Great defender, rebounder and runs the floor like a race horse. But at 30 years old and reliant on a good point guard to get him the ball in order to score, do we really want to pay him top dollar?
4. Baron Davis, Warriors – In my opinion the best guard on the board and having the best season of his career. At 29 he is obviously vying for a long-term contract.
5. Jermaine O’Neal, Pacers – Has been injury-prone the last few seasons. He is only 29, and the big question is whether he can stay healthy.
6. Allen Iverson, Nuggets – AI back in Philly. In my dreams!
7. Ron Artest, Kings – 4 years ago he would have been a great signing.
Tier 2 Players: The 2004 draft class. These guys are restricted free agents.
1. Luol Deng, Bulls – Do you like him better than Iggy?
2. Emeka Okafor, Bobcats
3. Shaun Livingston, Clippers – Would love to have him if he can recover from that devastating injury.
Tier 3 Players: These are the no strings attached unrestricted free agents.
1. Antawn Jamison, Wizards
There you have it. Stefanski really has his work cut out for him. But I ask all the “ReclinerGMs” out there – what would you do?