AI’s Return Proves to be the Perfect Ending for the 76ers

Allen Iverson's Return to Philly

The game Sixers fans have been waiting for has finally come and gone.  I had the pleasure of sitting in the lower level at the Wachovia Center directly across from the Denver bench for Allen Iverson’s return to Philly, as evidenced by the photograph above.  And the game was everything a fan could have hoped for.

This makes two perfect 76ers’ games in a row that I have attended.  We got a great high-scoring affair, some fantastic plays on both ends, a very good game from AI and most importantly the Sixers got another win.

Observations from the game

  • Sellout crowd (as if we expected anything less)20,674.  All the speculation leading up to tonight was whether or not Iverson would be well-received and be welcomed with a standing ovation during pre-game.  Come on, did anyone really think that wouldn’t happen?  We are talking about the most beloved 76er since Julius Erving.  Iverson said after the game “I dreamed it up a certain way, and it was better than that.”  And I concur, much respect given to the little man.
  • Andre Miller brought his A-game on his 32nd birthday.  Last game Miller dominated with his post game.  He did some more of that, but tonight he really displayed what I consider arguably the best mid-range game in the NBA.  Mixed with some swift ball-handling to get in position, Miller nailed jumper after jumper after jumper in that 15-17 foot range.  It was textbook and refreshing to watch.  Andre Miller’s line: 28 pts, 12 asts, 4 tos, on 13-21 shooting.
  • A.I. did his thing – but it was quiet greatness.  Sure he scored 32 points, had 8 dimes, only 2 turns and shot 54% from the floor.  But it wasn’t explosive, more like business as usual for the Answer.  He had one HUGE shot late in the 4th quarter when Denver was down 3; he nailed a much-contested three-pointer to even the score.  But that is where his heroics ended.  The most interesting thing I noticed about A.I was his competitiveness; he didn’t want to be shown up even once.  Every time a Sixers player would score or shake him, Iverson would come down court and go right at him.  Tonight he scored on nearly every possession after someone scored on him.  A little something I like to call “Right Back!”
  • In such an offensively dominated game (the Sixers had 9 uncontested dunks in the first half), the 76ers won on the defensive end.  And almost lost it at the free throw line shooting a disgraceful 54.5%.  You could see Mo Cheeks mimicking the foul shot motion in the 4th quarter when his guys were at the line, like he was trying to will it in for them.  Through three quarters the 76ers on average allowed 31 points per quarter.  Coach Cheeks got his team to slow the game down and as Mark Zumoff would say “Lock all windows and doors” only giving up 20 points in the final quarter.  The stellar defense reached his peak with the score tied at 110-110.  Sammy D. came through again with two huge blocks on Carmelo Anthony.
  • The final game note is about the fans.  The entire game the Philly fans were 100% supportive every time A.I. touched the ball, scored or made a great play.  They cheered loud and often. That is until with about 10-minutes left in the fourth quarter when the game got a little closer and it was clearly “winning time” for the home team.  At that point every time Iverson got the ball or scored you could hear boo’s, mixed in with significantly less cheering from the crowd.  This should answer the question of whether the majority of the spectators were Sixers fans who loved A.I. or strictly Iverson fans living in Philly.

At the end of the night, it was just another Sixers victory.  But this one puts the team at .500 since the 4th game of the season when we were 2-2. 

I caught myself watching the league-wide scoreboard during the game to see keep an eye on what Washington was doing.  Sadly, the Wizards won another game we all were hoping they would and should lose.  Still only a half game back I am confident the Sixers will get it done.  Move into the 6th seed by season’s end and set up the perfect match-up in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Who Got Robbed? 2008 NBA All-Star Snubs

The National Basketball Associations is loaded with exceptional players that do things on the court we as fans can only dream about.  So when the time comes for NBA coaches and fans to choose All-Stars, the 12 best (and fan favorite)  players in the league, there are bound to be some unlucky guys that don’t make the cut.  Here’s the Recliner GM’s take on the players that did, and didn’t get invited to New Orleans this season.

East Starters

West Starters

Jason Kidd – Guard

Allen Iverson – Guard

Dwyane Wade – Guard

Kobe Bryant – Guard

LeBron James – Forward

Carmelo Anthony – Forward

Kevin Garnett – Forward

Tim Duncan – Forward

Dwight Howard – Center

Yao Ming – Center

Who Should be Starting

Surprisingly I think we (the fans)did a good job picking the All-Star starters based on current season performance and potential entertainment value.  With that said there was one very noticeable slip-up.

Chris Paul – The clear mid-season MVPshould be making his first All-Star game as a starter.  Who would he replace?  Sad to say my beloved Allen Iverson.  AI does belong on the team as a reserve because he is having one of his most efficient season of his career, continuing to put up ridiculous numbers at his size. Chris Paul on the other hand is without a doubt the best PG in the NBA this year and the 2nd best guard (behind Kobe)overall.  Unfortunately for Paul a two main factors were working against him. 

  1. The Hornets weren’t expected to be this good this season therefore not much TV time scheduled to showcase his game.  
  2. Iverson has developed a cult like following the last 11 years that has spread far beyond the borders of Philadelphia and Denver.

Besides Paul I don’t have any qualms with any of the other starters.  But I am sure you guys do.  So make a case (in the comments) for another player you think should be starting (and who you would bench) and I will respond with my argument for the voted in player. 

On to the reserves…

East Reserves

West Reserves

Chauncey Billups – Guard

Chris Paul – Guard

Rip Hamilton – Guard

Steve Nash – Guard

Caron Butler – Forward

Dirk Nowitzki– Forward

Paul Pierce – Forward

Carlos Boozer– Forward

Chris Bosh – Center

Amare Stoudemire – Center

Antawn Jamison – Wild Card

Brandon Roy – Wild Card

Joe Johnson – Wild Card

David West – Wild Card

Who Should be on the Team That Got Snubbed

Luckily the coaches pick the reserves and not the fans, otherwise there would be a whole lot of upset NBA players.  Why?  We (the fans) are not always the most rational bunch especially when it comes to our favorite players.  That is the main reason you see Vince Carter being named a starter when his best playing days (aka playing hard every night) had passed him.  With that said…

The biggest All-Star game surprise addition that really shouldn’t be a surprise to you:

David West   Yes, the Western conference is stacked with forwards and this season West has been one of the best.  Although Chris Paul is the most impactful player on that team West has been a consistent force with his inside game.  19.6ppg, 9.4rpg and just over 1 block a night on the best team in the West means you’re an All-Star in my book.  Sorry Josh Howard who also deserved to make the team. 

 

Marcus Camby– I am with Charles Barkley on this omission.  I don’t know how much more I have to say (check the write-up & comments here) about this guy.  His impact and importance to the Nuggets team rivals both Carmelo’s and Iverson’s.  He is the best defensive player in the league and shouldn’t be penalized because the All-Star game is predominately an offensive display to benefit the fans.  Especially when one of the measuring sticks of a player is All-Star game appearances.  Sadly this makes sense because if Boston with the best record in the league doesn’t have 3 guys make it Denver surely should not either.  I think Camby deserves it over Melo considering Anthony’s scoring and shooting numbers are all down this season whereas Camby is having the best season of his career in rebounds and blocks.

Other deserving players:

Ray Allen – Question is do you give Boston 3 players?  If so Ray Allen should have made it over Joe Johnson for sure.

Josh Smith – If you’re going to put an Atlanta Hawk on the team I prefer Smith over Joe Johnson ALL DAY.

Baron Davis – Among point guards B. Diddy is 1st in scoring, 2nd in rebounding, 7th in assist and sports a respectable 3.0 assist/turnover ratio.  Come to the East and pick up where AI left off as an All-Star Starter.

Josh Howard – He was an All-Star reserve last season and has increased his scoring, rebounding and shooting %s this season.  So why isn’t he on the team again?

Deron Williams – Only thing I can really say is “sorry dude.”  There are way too many stud guards in the West.  Had AI not been voted in by the fans it would have been intersting what the coaches would have done.

Jose Calderon – He really just suffered from not being a starter all year.  Had he been the open day starter you’d be hard pressed not to pick him over Joe Johnson.

Hedu Turkoglu – He has surprisingly been better than Rashard Lewis this season, at a much cheaper price as well.  But I wouldn’t pick him over Butler or Pierce this season.

Tony Parker & Andrew Bynum – Got hurt and ended their hopes of running & gunning with the rest of the All-Stars.

Chris Kaman & Al Jefferson – Coaches rarely reward the bad teams.  Tough luck.

Manu Ginobili – TELL YOUR COACH YOU’RE A DAMN STARTER.   

Snubs or not we all know the game will be just as exciting as ever.  But there are only 12 spots and the coaches have an impossible job picking the 14 best players not chosen by the fans.  So which one of your favorite players got robbed?

The Recliner GM’s COMPLETE NBA Mid-Season Awards

With the NBA season passed its midpoint I feel it necessary as a true Recliner GM to give out some accolades – and stir up some healthy debate.  With so much outstanding individual play I almost copped out and gave awards to both Eastern and Western Conference players.  That would have appeased way too many people (not the goal) and made for a post twice as long as this already is.  With that said, let’s start the debate.    

League MVP

NBA MVP AwardChris Paul– To me this is a no-brainer.  Paul is the best player on the team with the best record in the much tougher Western Conference.   This season he has clearly been the best point guard in the game, snatching the title from Steve Nash.  Paul has rejuvenated Peja Stojakovic’s career, brought out the best in Tyson Chandler and has developed a bond with David West that could blossom into a great partnership a la Stockton & Malone – but more fun to watch.  Combine that with his potentially historic stats (steals weren’t kept when the Big O played): 20.6ppg, 10.5apg, 2.6spg (2ndto LeBron in PER)all while shooting 48.4% from the field, and you have a player that embodies a dominant pass-first point guard.   Oh yeah and he’s only 22.  Besides all of that this pick will effectively rile up all the Kobe lovers, LeBron advocates and Boston faithful.

Honorable Mention:  Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Roy & Marcus Camby (yes, Marcus Camby)  

Rookie of the Year

Rookie of the Year AwardKevin Durant – I give this to him almost out of sympathy.  He was the only rookie with the entire weight of a struggling franchise thrust onto his shoulders in this draft class.  Has he lived up to the hype after his amazing freshman year at Texas? NO.  But how could he?  He is scoring a respectable 19.3ppg but shooting only 39.8% from the field and 28% from three.  I attribute his poor shooting to a terrible team which allows defenses to game plan only to stop Durant.  This leads to overall poor shot selection (mainly settling for too many jumpers)and forced shots as the team’s only true scorer and default go-to man.  With that said Durant has still made the biggest impact of any rookie, with Al Horford nipping at his heels.

Honorable Mention: Al Horford, Juan Carlos Navarro, Yi Jianlian

Defensive Player of the Year

Defensive Player of the Year - Marcus CambyMarcus Camby – So we all know about the blocks – 3.84blkpg & 5.24 blkp48m, leading the NBA easily.  But what goes unnoticed is that he rarely fouls out while playing such exceptional defense (2 DQ this season).  Meaning Denver gets his defensive presence on the court more often than other hackers/shot blockers in the league.  Need more convincing?  Probably not, but here’s some for the die hard KG backers (like myself); 1.40 BLK/PF (blocks per foul)probably the most overlooked stat for a shot blocker.  Camby is the only player over 1, and his current mark ranks 3rd best in the last 8 years.  24 boards and 11 blocks in a game, only one other player has done this or better in the last 20 years (1993 version of Shaq)!    

Honorable Mention: Bruce Bowen (really have to watch him play a lot to understand his impact since he doesn’t show up in the stats much), Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard

Most Improved Player

Most Improved Player AwardAndrew Bynum – You gotta love it when a big man plays the way a big man is supposed to – Catch & Dunk Everything.  That is exactly what Bynum was doing before the injury bug caught up to him.  This is also why Kobe had no choice but to change his tune and fall in love with the kid.  Numbers: 13.1ppg, 10.2rpg (would be 12th if he didn’t get hurt), 2.06blkpg (9th), 63.6% fgs (1st) all while only playing 7 more minutes per game than last season.

Honorable Mention: Al Jefferson (A Minnesota fan called me on this omission, so here I am correcting my slip up.  This guy definitely deserves mention as he often goes unnoticed on the struggling Timberwolves)Rudy Gay, Chris Kaman, Lamarcus Aldridge, Danny Granger (he has increased most of his numbers while playing the same # of minutes – only one of the bunch), John Salmons (of course he would get better in every statistical category AFTER Billy King trades him – he is shooting 51.5%!!)

Sixth Man

Sixth Man of the Year AwardManu Ginobili– Let me first confess I am not a Ginobili fan at all so this will be short.  I am, however, unbiased enough to admit he is by far the best non-starter in the NBA (which makes no sense considering he is vastly better than Michael Finley who would be a perfect bench player).  Manu provides instant offense, pesky defense and a consistent 3-pt threat to open things up for Tim Duncan.    

Honorable Mention: Leandro Barbosa, David (Please Trade Him Before He Rots on the Bench of a Horrendous Team) Lee, Jason Maxiell, Travis Outlaw, Jeff Foster (leads the Pacers in rebounding off the bench)

Coach of the year

Coach of the Year AwardNate McMillan– He has the young Trailblazers playing with confidence, chemistry and a winning attitude.  All things no one would have imagined once the bad news about Greg Oden was announced.  Portland exemplifies team basketball, an unselfish mentality typified by McMillan’s own playing career.  

Honorable Mention:  Byron Scott, Eddie Jordan, Doc Rivers (playing the Phil Jackson role)

Executive of the Year/Biggest Surprise

Kevin Pritchard/Portland Trailblazers – The biggest surprise of the season easily goes to the Portland Trailblazers.  Predicted to be 26th in preseason rankingsare not only in the playoffs ahead of Denver and Houston but are only a ½ game behind Utah for first in the Northeast Division.  Most of the praise for the team’s success has been spread between an emerging superstar in Brandon Roy, vastly improved Lamarcus Aldridge and the masterful coaching job of Nate McMillan.  But an overlooked piece of the team’s fortune this season is in the calculated moves made by current GM Kevin Pritchard.  He cleaned house getting rid of bad character guys, bad contracts and effectively created a team the Portland fans can like.  The best explanation of this strategy is by Bill Simmons who coined the term: Chemacterility (chemistry, character & (cap) flexibility).  Pritchard gets the edge over Danny Ainge because he created a successful and young team without the perennial superstars. 

Honorable Mention: Danny Ainge (I am a Philly fan so you can imagine I am not all that happy about all this Boston Celtic success.  But I can’t hate them as much as normal because Ainge acquired such likable superstars in Allen and KG.)

All-NBA

First Team (easy):
Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard

Second Team (tough):
Steve Nash, Allen Iverson, Carlos Boozer, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming

Third Team (nearly impossible to pick):
Deron Williams, Brandon Roy, Caron Butler, Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire

 Recliner GM Originals

Most Visible Scrub of the Year

Kwame Brown – I’ve wanted to write something about Brown for some time now so I created an award just for him (how nice of me).  This isn’t going to be another Kwame bashing about his stone hands, inability to finish dunks & lay-ups consistently at 6’11, getting booed at home, being the player doing the least with the most talent (hint: he isn’t really that talented) or being one of the poster boys for NBA draft pick busts.  Instead it’s simply to point out that Kwame is NOT the worst player in the league, only the most noticeable and Sportscenter-highlighted below-average player in the NBA.

Step My Game Up in Place of an Injured Superstar Award

Antawn Jamison – 17.8ppg and 9.6rpg is what Jamison averaged before Gilbert Arenas got hurt.  After – he has averaged 22.2ppg and 10.9rpg, and Washington’s winning % is .600 compared to .375 in the first 8 games with Gilbert.  Jamison is somehow having a career year in his 10th season and is one of five players averaging 20 points & 10 boards.

Where the Hell Have You Been Award – Adonal Foyle

Please Stop Shooting (or shoot better) Award Larry Hughes, this guy is definitely in favor of this selection.

Fans Choice:

Why Would You Sign Him to Our Team Award – Chris Webber

Get This Guy Off Our Team Award –Stephon Marbury, if you haven’t already please enjoy.

Check out these NBA Mid-Season Awards from other bloggers:

There you have it.  If I thoroughly annoyed you with some of my selections or you just don’t agree, feel free to argue your players.  This post also serves as a measuring stick for when the real awards are given out at the end of the year.  But who cares – these are Recliner GM Awards.  Nothing else really matters.

20 Reasons To Start Watching The NBA

Kissing the RimFor all those people who have decided they are not fans of the NBA, that it’s “not the same game it was,” that the athletes are show-offs or you just can’t relate to the hip-hop culture of it all; I feel sorry for you. Right now the NBA has the most talent it’s had in years. It has young, exciting players. It has players who have already punched their ticket to Springfield, but are playing with the energy of rookies. It has morphed into a global game, with talent from countries all over the world joining in. It has pass-first PGs, electric finishers, highly athletics centers and 7-footers who can shoot the three. It’s a mix unlike any we’ve seen in the NBA, and perhaps any professional sport in America. Don’t believe me?

Just look at the list below and try to come up with a time where there was a wider and deeper array of talent in the league.

              Super-duper-stars

  1. LeBron James – He’s a 6’8” point forward that is built like a house and has a 40” vertical leap. He took a team with Drew Gooden as its second-best player, to the Finals. He is already 6th all-time in PPG in NBA history. Only he and Oscar Robertson averaged over 25 ppg, 6 rpg and 6 apg in their first 4 years. He just turned 23, and still has 4 years until he reaches his prime. If you don’t watch one Cavs game this year, you are doing yourself a disservice.
  2. Kobe Bryant – Say what you will about the man, but the basketball player is as close to Michael Jordan as you will see. He has an absolutely unstoppable offensive arsenal and a killer instinct that is flat-out frightening on the court. This is his 12th year in the league, but he won’t turn 30 until after the season. The way he and his Lakers are playing, that might not be for awhile.
    The Future

     

  3. Dwight Howard – Here is the list of players who have averaged 20 ppg, 15 rpg and shot 60% from the field in a season: Wilt Chamberlain, Age 30. Here is what the list might look like at the end of the season: Wilt Chamberlain, 30, and Dwight Howard, 22. Dwight Howard is Shaq, only if Shaq was athletic enough to do this in a dunk contest. It will surprise me if he is not the best player in the league in 2 years.
  4. Chris Paul – How about a list of players who have averaged 20 ppg, 10 apg, and 2.5 spg: Isiah Thomas – and he wasn’t shooting 48% from the field like Chris Paul is. Paul is arguably the quickest player in the league and makes everyone on his team better. He has the Hornets 2.0 games out of the top spot in the West. Like Howard, he is 22 years old and his mark on the game will be unmistakable in a couple years.Veterans Turning Back Time

     

  5. Kevin Garnett – Rejuvenated in Boston – Garnett could very well take home the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards this year. You will not find a more competitive player in the league and if he had the same coach and supporting cast as Duncan, he may be regarded as the greatest power forward of all time.
  6. Steve Nash – Has won 2 MVPs, but currently is averaging the most assists of his career (12.0) for the West-leading Suns. He averaged 14.0 assists in December and – at 51% from the field, 46% from 3 and 89% from the FT line – he might be the best shooter in the NBA as well. Turns 34 in February.
  7. Tim Duncan – The most decorated player in the league right now. He has 4 championships, 2 MVPs and 3 NBA finals MVPs. He’s been selected to the NBA First Team in 9 of his 10 years in the league. Almost any other player with those credentials would be talked about non-stop around the country. But since Duncan’s best traits may be the ability to make his teammates better and his boring, yet unstoppable post-moves, “the greatest power forward ever” will continue to play out of the media spotlight.
  8. Allen Iverson – Instead of re-writing my post from the other day, you can just check it out here.
  9. Jason Kidd – To be legitimately flirting with averaging a triple-double (11.6 ppg, 10.7 apg, 8.7 rpg), in this day-in-age, at nearly 35 years old is just stupid. Had 3 straight games with a triple double this week and also had 19 rebounds in one game this year.LeBron’s Entourage

     

  10. Carmelo Anthony – Overshadowed by his draft classmate, (LeBron) and now his new teammate (Iverson) people seem to forget Anthony is only 23 years old, was leading the league in scoring before the Iverson trade and was often times the go-to guy on the US National Team in the qualifying round. Of players who played 3 or more seasons in the NBA before the age of 24, he has the 6th highest scoring average.
  11. Dwyane Wade – “Flash” won the NBA Finals and was the finals MVP at age 24. Afterwards, it looked like he was on his way to being the most popular player in the NBA, leading the league in jersey sales for 2 straight seasons. Injuries and a horrendous supporting cast have put him out of the spotlight this year, but at 25, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
  12. Chris Bosh – 6’10” lefty with a sweet stroke (85% from the FT line) and solid interior game, Bosh led the Raptors back into the playoffs as the Atlantic division champs last year. He was the first player since Duncan and Garnett to average 22 points and 10 rebounds in a single season before the age of 24. Like ‘Melo and King James, he is only 23 years old and years away from his prime.
  13. Amare Stoudemire – Like Dwight Howard, Stoudemire has the type of athleticism that no one his size should have. He’s was on the verge of becoming the dominant force in the league (26 ppg at 22 years old) before his microfracture surgery. Now 25, he seems to have fully recovered and has gone back to being the leading scorer on the team with best record in the West.Internationals

     

  14. Yao Ming – The “Dream Team” invasion at the 1992 summer Olympics spread basketball to children throughout the world. Now – those children have grown-up playing basketball and many other countries are producing superior NBA talent, making it a uniquely global game. No foreign player has had more impact on the league than the 7’6” Yao Ming. His match-up with fellow countryman Yi Jianlian this year drew 200 million viewers in China (the highest rated Super Bowl ever drew 140 million American viewers). His social impact notwithstanding, Yao has turned himself into a great NBA center – good for 20 and 10 a night, a really good passer and team player and he has to be the only 7 ½ footer on the planet that could shoot 87% from the FT line, 14th best in the NBA.
  15. Dirk Nowitzki – Speaking of tall people shooting… Nowitzki has already made more than 7 times as many 3-pointers as any other 7-footer in NBA history. His release point makes his shot un-blockable and his game peaked last year as he won his first MVP. He has led the Mavs to 58, 60 and 67 wins in the last 3 years.Got Next?

     

  16. Brandon Roy – When Greg Oden went down before his first NBA game, the media buried the 2008 season for the Blazers and some went as far as burying the entire franchise. Then Brandon Roy grabbed a shovel. Since December 1, the 23 year old, 6’7” SG has gone for 20.8 ppg, 6.5 apg and 5.5 rpg while leading the Blazers to a ridiculous 17-2 record. He looks very much like the next Paul Pierce. And imagine how good the Blazers will be when they get back…
  17. Kevin Durant / Greg Oden – The most celebrated rookie tandem since Shaq and Zo, Durant and Oden dominated the college game for their one year and both looked like can’t-miss superstars. However, Oden got hurt and the 19 year-old Durant is playing out of position for a team that provides him no real help (but still averaging 20ppg). It’s easy to see either of these guys becoming a huge part of the NBA’s future.
  18. Andrew Bynum – Apparently he took Kobe’s whining about not having enough talent on the team to heart. Bynum, who is not yet of drinking age, dunks EVERYTHING he catches. He is second in the NBA in FG% and 3rd among centers in efficiency (behind only Howard and Yao). He is developing post moves rapidly and we could see a Dwight Howard-type leap in a couple years.The Next Stockton and Malone

     

  19. Deron Williams – Just a hair below Chris Paul. He can shoot the 3 (42%), create his shot (52% from the floor), find the open man (9.1 apg) and, with the same measurements as Dwyane Wade, he is a very physical PG.
  20. Carlos Boozer – Along with Williams, 23, Boozer, 26, led the Jazz to the Western Conference finals last year. He does everything right. He is a great rebounder, doesn’t take bad shots (56% from the field) and unlike the league leaders in FG%, he has a phenomenal 10-12 foot jump shot. He is the 6th most efficient player in the league behind James, Paul, Stoudemire, Garnett and Howard. With Williams and Boozer playing into their prime together, its possible they could bring Utah the championship Malone and Stockton couldn’t.

Also could have mentioned: Baron Davis, Tony Parker, Josh Smith, Caron Butler, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Gilbert Arenas, Al Jefferson, Rudy Gay, Pau Gasol.

Not mentioned on purpose: Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Redd.

1-Year Anniversary of the A.I. Trade: Was it the “Answer”?

The single greatest moment in the history of Allen Iverson with the Sixers.  The good old days.Allen Iverson doesn’t seem to think so:

“If I was still in Philadelphia, I don’t think they would be in the predicament that they’re in right now,” Iverson said. “The way the East is, I would think that we would be right there in the hunt. . . . I look at (Philadelphia’s) games right now, and it looks like a rec league game or an AAU game when you see the attendance there. It just looks dull.” – Rocky Mountain News

Exactly one year from the worst day in the history of me being a Philadelphia 76ers fan I got to thinking: was that trade the answer? Was trading the most beloved basketball player in Philadelphia since Dr. J the right move to turn around the Sixers’ plummeting attendance and unbearable performance?  Let’s take a look…

Sixers got:

Andre Miller,

Expiring contract of Joe smith and

2 first round draft picks – Jason Smith and the since-waived Derrick Byars (this kid was sick at Vanderbilt; I would take him over Rodney Carney any day of the week)

Nuggets got:

Allen Iverson

Ivan McFarland (not even worth mentioning)

Fast forward to December 19th, 2007 what is the state of the Sixers one year later? Here are the top 5 positive outcomes of the trade:

  1. Billy King fired
  2. Billy King fired – and someone that actually knows how to spell basketball was hired
  3. Billy King fired – we won’t have a GM with the brain of a chimpanzee spending the money
  4. We have enough money to aggressively go after Elton Brand this summer
  5. Andre Miller is a solid veteran pass-first PG to distribute the ball (if only he had anyone really worth passing to!)

And the negatives:

  • Allen Iverson 2007 #s (I thought he was declining and couldn’t keep up this pace?):
    • Best FG% of his career – 46.6%
    • 2nd best APG of his career – 7.5 (wait that’s better than Andre Miller)
    • Taking less 3pt shots and shooting the 4th best % of his career – 32.8%
    • On Dec. 5th while the Sixers were getting handled by the Celtics in front of a half filled arena A.I. was preparing to drop 51 on the Lakers (I am crying as I type this!)
  • No superstar worth paying to watch play
  • Sixers record: 10-14 including the 5th worst scoring offense (at least if they were high scoring they could be exciting to watch)
  • Sixers average attendance: 12,126 (second worst in the NBA)

Bill Simmons says it best, “The lesson, as always: Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER trade a superstar for less than 75 cents on the dollar.”

With that said I believe the jury is still out given the change in GM.  The feeling in Philly now that Ed’s the man is a sense of confidence and hope.  I believe this summer will be the defining time for this franchise given the circumstances explained in the previous posts (1, 2).  It will either be the changing of the tide for the Sixers or the continued agony of their fans.

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You’re the Sixers’ new GM – What would you do summer 2008?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

2. Patrick O’Bryant, Warriors – He was the No. 9 pick in the ’06 draft and a 7-footer with upside.  With GS bringing in Brandon Wright we may be able to steal a quality big away.

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?

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