With the Philadelphia 76ers officially eliminated from postseason contention, the focus immediately shifts from a postseason push to a rebuilding offseason. After making the playoffs the past two seasons, the 76ers took a major step back this year and currently sit at 31-45. The majority of the blame for this abysmal season goes to their big offseason acquisition, Andrew Bynum, not suiting up for the team this year due to injuries in both knees.
Now the 76ers are in a delicate situation. They face many decisions this offseason that could impact the stature of this club for many years to come. The 76ers only have seven guaranteed contracts on the books for next summer. They have a ton of cap room and a potential top 12 pick in next year’s NBA Draft on the way. Many of the decisions they make this summer will have an impact for the next five years.
Step one will be determining what to do with free agent big man Andrew Bynum. By not playing at all this season, it is impossible for the 76ers to justify giving him a max contract. That doesn’t necessarily mean a team like the Charlotte Bobcats, Atlanta Hawks or Phoenix Suns won’t throw big money his way to scare Philly away. Realistically, if the Sixers can convince Bynum to sign a two year, $16 million dollar deal with playing incentives that could double it, that would be the best case scenario for this team. It would give the 76ers what many still see as a dominant center while not putting them in a high risk situation financially. They would still have plenty of cap room to bring in shooters and other key role players.
The next step is to make a wise draft selection. The 76ers should have a pick somewhere in the 9-to-12 range, depending on how the final six games play out. Last time this team was in the lottery, they took Evan Turner with the number two overall pick. Fans are still upset that they did not go with Sacramento Kings center Demarcus Cousins. In the late part of the lottery it is tough to get a superstar. The 76ers should be using this pick to get a perimeter defender who can shoot or a power forward that can stretch the floor and knock down shots from the outside. Players like Victor Oladipo and Doug McDermott fit these descriptions, but it remains to be seen if they will be available when it is time for the 76ers to select.
Lastly, the 76ers have to decide which head coach they would like to take this team on this journey through the future. Doug Collins’ act has grown tired with this young roster. He refuses to play rookies and other young players, his offensive schemes include too many long two-point shots and no trips to the free throw line and he’s been constantly embarrassing his players in front of the media. When Collins steps off the bench and in to the front office after this year, the 76ers need to make the right choice at head coach, and not have an Eddie Jordan repeat. It would be wise to let Michael Curry step in and be the head coach. He is well liked and respected by the players and as an assistant, he already has an established relationship with the front office which should lead to a smooth transition.
Even though none of it ended up working out at the end, the moves that the 76ers made this past offseason were the right ones. Getting rid of Andre Iguodala’s massively overpaid contract, trading young players and draft picks for Bynum and signing shooters on the outside to pair with him were all the right moves for the future of this franchise. The front office obviously didn’t know Bynum wouldn’t suit up at all this year. Now choosing what to do with Bynum this year, coupled with a high draft pick and a ton of cap room to spend elsewhere, this offseason will either put the 76ers on the rise to contend with the Miami Heat or send them to the lottery for the next five years. Sixers fans now must sit and wait, nervously, to see which direction General Manager Tony DiLeo decides to take this franchise.