Last offseason, the talented yet starless Sixers had their fans foaming at the idea of a long awaited Andre Iguodala trade.
The thought process went something like this: you need a bona fide star to win in the NBA, and as the closest such thing on the Sixers deep and versatile roster, Iguodala was the only bargaining chip who could elevate them out of the NBA's mucky middle class.
High-scoring, defense-shunning Warriors guard Monta Ellis was the most popular return player thrown around and he seemed like a perfect fit: an Iverson-like scoring guard who would learn to care about defense under the hard nosed tutelage of coach Doug Collins.
While the rumor was an emerging reality before the lockout, it died a quick, behind the scenes death once the league-wide crisis began and teams could no longer make changes to their roster.
With the Sixers off to a somewhat shocking 15-6 start in 2011-12 and leading the Atlantic Division by four and a half games over the old-enough-to-have-witnessed-the-Civil War Celtics, team management has appeared to put the star-centric ideology on a momentary back-burner in favor of team chemistry.
Almost no other team in the NBA features a top-eight rotation of players with at least a full year together under their belts. Five of those players, outside of second year Sixers' Spencer Hawes, Jodie Meeks and Evan Turner, have multiple years playing together under their collective belts.
Now if you trade Iguodala, you are trading the most valuable, versatile link in this now tough to break chain. But while re-emerging as a playoff contender is a cute, little story, it only stays cute until you bow out in five games in the second round of the playoffs. Then the goal becomes winning a championship, and the Sixers will never do that with Iguodala as their best player.
So does Iggy have to be the centerpiece? No because his Pippen-like skill set would look great next to a bigger star. But with the continued all-around emergence of fellow versatile swingman and 2010 number two pick Evan Turner, Iggy is still the most eligible bachelor for a not "if" but "when" scenario.
With the bigger picture in mind, here are five potential swing rumors that could elevate the Sixers from a boutique novelty into a perennial force.
Of all the trades on this list, this option is far and away the most risky. With a scoring average that hasn't dipped below 19 since 2006-07, Ellis is easily one of the 10 most dynamic scorers in the NBA. Put him next to a mature-beyond-his-years 21-year-old in Jrue Holiday and you may just have the most dynamic backcourt duo in the league for years to come.
But Philly would still be replacing perhaps the best on-ball defender in the Eastern Conference with one of the worst defensive players in the league.
Ellis also has a selfish tendency to jack up questionable shots even on nights when he's not hitting. He's averaged over 20 shots per game in each of the last two seasons, at least seven more in both seasons than the most un-bashful Sixer (Iguodala).
So while he may be that go-to scorer the Sixers have lacked since Iverson, Ellis presents a potential Iversonian chemistry blowup that could end with four sets of wandering eyes isolating for a single, ball-dominant hog.
With all due respect to Spencer Hawes and his hot start, the Sixers still lack two things: a bona fide center and a first tier star. Howard is both.
Unlike Ellis, Howard provides virtually no threat to team chemistry because he's not a player who necessarily needs the ball to dominate a game.
A three-time Defensive Player of the Year and Rebounding Champ, Howard would close off the paint to opponents and eliminate any second chance baskets. This would make the already stealthy Sixers perhaps the best defensive unit since the Ben Wallace Pistons.
The only way the Sixers could lose on this deal would be if they pull a Donnie Walsh and sacrifice their young nucleus in the process. While Williams and Iguodala are core pieces, it's much easier to replace a bench scorer and a swingman than a dynamic young point guard in Holiday.
Giving up Iguodala would also allow Evan Turner to step in and blossom into his lottery potential. Just imagine, Sixers fans, with Howard and the continued emergence of 2011 first-round pick Nikola Vucevic, you could be watching two seven footers patrol the paint for years to come.
All Mike D'Antoni teams need a point guard. At 21, Holiday would be a perfect complement to Carmelo Anthony. From a Sixers standpoint, this trade makes perfect sense if you can replace Holiday with Iguodala.
But considering Iggy and Melo play the same position, that prospect is highly unlikely. Like Ellis, Stoudemire can be somewhat of shot-hog especially when he falls in love with his mid-range jumper. But he's also a younger and 10 times more athletic version of Elton Brand who could slide seamlessly into the 4 slot next to Spencer Hawes.
It's been well-documented throughout his career that Amare thrives with a true pass-first point guard and without a stationery post-presence to clog his freelancing space around the basket.
Before Raymond Felton was traded last year, Stoudemire averaged over 25 points per game. With Tyson Chandler this season, he's averaging just 17.7, the lowest total since his rookie season in 2002-03.
If the Celtics don't get younger fast, they will soon find themselves in the same sad state of franchise limbo they were in back in 2006-07, when they tanked the season in hopes of landing Greg Oden or Kevin Durant in the draft.
But at 34, he would also upset the perfectly flowing balance of youth the Sixers have created after years of solid mid-level draft selections.
The nine-time All-Star also isn't quite on the level to go mano a mano with fellow Eastern stars like LeBron, D-Wade and Derrick Rose anymore.
This one is interesting because it would give the Sixers the upper hand at center against almost any team in the East besides Orlando.
Kaman would fit in with the Sixers system because he's a more prolific version of Hawes. His expiring contract would also negate the Elton Brand conundrum that has hampered the team's front office for the past few offseasons.
This gives management the option based on how Kaman performs down the stretch and into the postseason. The difficult part is potentially giving up a franchise cornerstone in Iguodala for just a half season of production and a second-round pick.