Why the NBA Philadelphia 76ers Need to Trade Andre Iguodala

Matthieu HertilusContributor IIIJune 7, 2012


Player, Age, Years in the league

Evan Turner, 23, 2

Jrue Holliday, 21, 3

Thaddeus Young, 23, 4

Lavoy Allen, 23, 1

Nikola Vucevic, 21, 1

Andre Iguodala, 28, 7


The Core


Break to build – not only the title of one of the best Jordan brand commercials ever, but also the proposed model of the Philadelphia 76ers, one of my RRGNE teams, going forward. That is, if they ever want to win an NBA championship. Houston Texans GM said it best, alluding to moving some of the franchise’s established players in Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans this offseason in favor of younger players already in their organization:

One important thing I've learned is when your core changes, you've got to be willing to change your philosophy too…Your core of players has to be a living, breathing thing, and you have to be willing to examine it all the time to be sure you're comfortable with it.

We have arrived at that point with the Philadelphia 76ers.


There’s a good chance Lou Williams will not be back with the team next year, and rightfully so. He will probably command comparable numbers to what Thaddeus Young received last year, and to invest that much in your 6th and 7th men just isn’t wise (at least not if they learned from the Kyle Korver and Willie Green contracts).

Williams has earned a bigger contract operating as a poor man’s Jason Terry this year. He may very well get even better given that he’s still only 25 years old and hasn’t learned to attack the basket on a consistent basis to earn an extra 5-8 points per game, but he has outgrown the core of the 76ers as they are presently constructed.

Spencer Hawes, while he played spectacular basketball early in the season before a nagging Achilles injury hampered his contribution for the rest of the regular season and played well enough in the playoffs to earn the title of “big man who will get overpaid in the offseason because the league lacks legitimate big men,” will also likely demand a big contract. But if the 76ers are smart, they won’t bite. They’ll stick to the core.

It’s not so much about keeping the best guys, rather sticking to a core and giving them the opportunity to succeed. With Oklahoma City Thunder knocking on the door to a prolonged reign of dominance in the NBA, many GMs, especially in places that will look to rebuild soon, will try to copy their blueprint— letting a young, potentially great group play together, fully realize their potential and find out for sure what you have while considering how they might carve out their role.

It requires patience, sacrifice and investment in future returns, rather than being a prisoner for the moment.

When the Thunder (then the Seattle Supersonics) traded Ray Allen in 2007, it marked a shift in the direction of the franchise. They handed the keys to an even younger Kevin Durant at the time, and hoped for the best. It’s a very tough pill to swallow at the time, but you do it because it’s one of your only shots at greatness.

If you’re Philadelphia, you make the move to trade Iguodala and stick with your core of 23 and under (all of whom were first round draft picks by your team) for a shot at greatness. Does it make the team instantly better? Probably not, but it gives them the best chance of climbing out of RRGNE status.

You stick with this core not because you know what you have, but precisely for the opposite reason – because you don’t know what you have and need to find out. Iguodala, Hawes and Williams could bide their time until the Boston Big 3 break up (they will probably recover faster than people think with Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, and two 1st round picks in this upcoming draft), Miami’s Big 3 separate (there may be talks of such if they fail to win a title this year) and hope they fall into an even more fortuitous playoff run than they did this year to make a serious run as legitimate title contenders (or get serious about winning a championship and break to build).

It’s not that Iguodala is too old, but when you’re best player isn’t necessarily your “go-to” player, AND he’s the highest paid player on the roster, you do a disservice to the makeup of your team and your future.

While Iguodala embodies the philosophy of the team, everything that Doug Collins wants his team to be, with him in town, no one else has the chance to try, fail and inevitably learn how to be “the guy.” I don’t know if that person is presently on their roster or yet to be drafted, but it’s clearer to me now more than ever that for the Sixers' sake and Iguodala’s sake, they need to part ways.

This group has dangled on greatness for a few years, and looking at their roster, they have nearly everything you want for a championship team except a centerpiece. It isn’t Iguodala’s fault, it’s the stubbornness in wishing for something that isn’t there. It’s addition by subtraction.

Imagine the success of a proposed deal to the Toronto Raptors, in which they receive the 8th pick in this upcoming draft to go along with their 15th pick, having a shot at a young scorer such as Doron Lamb or Austin Rivers AND a young big man such as John Henson or Tyler Zeller (NOTE: they would also receive Ed Davis and Jose Calderon in the deal to make the contracts match)[1]. Though they lose a bit in the present, they can’t realize what they may gain until giving him up.

Iguodala’s stock is higher than it’s ever been, perhaps as high as it’s ever going to be.  If the 76ers plan on making the move—finally moving on in fairness to their young core, as well as Iguodala, who's had to hear as many trade rumors Iverson did pre-2001—now’s the time.

None of this is an indictment on Iguodala. You’d be hard-pressed to find many players in this league who contribute as much to his team’s success on both ends of the court, as he has.

He came into the league as the sidekick to a superstar (Iverson), and after Iverson, it was Iguodala who carried the load. He’s never complained about “needing more help,” nor has he given a hint of frustration as to his role (or more appropriately, the perception of his role) which is split almost down the middle.

He’s exactly the type of player you want as part of a championship blueprint. He would be exceptional as the 2nd or 3rd option in Los Angeles (either the Clippers or Lakers) in the same way that he was for the 2010 U.S basketball team. This move makes as much sense for him as it does for the 76ers.

It’s time.


Time to see if Jrue Holliday can enter the top-ten point guard argument[2].

Time to see if Turner is worth passing up Greg Monroe and DeMarcus Cousins[3]

Time to see if Young can harness all the athletic ability he has into a definitive skill set

Time to see if Lavoy Allen’s success can translate into +30 minutes a game

Time to see if Vucevic can guard anyone in this league.


[1] A trade that I would seriously consider if I was the other team: Utah trades Al Jefferson to Philadelphia for Iguodala. Why it works for Utah: It paves the way for Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors as their future front court, something that would be impeded by still having Jefferson and Paul Milsap eat a lot of their minutes. They don’t have a wing  to complete their team as Gordon Hayward is better suited coming off the bench, and Alec Burks plays the two. Why this works for Philadelphia: Finally, they get the dominant big man who can score down low they’ve been craving since Samuel Dalembert, Todd MacCulloch, Dikembe Mutumbo, Matt Geiger, Theo Ratliff, ever! He’s an inside threat who has the talent to be a franchise player, providing a different dynamic to their amalgam of wings and guards. And, if it doesn’t work out, the Sixers let Jefferson, who only has one more year left on his contract, walk and free themselves of their two biggest contracts – Jefferson and Elton Brand for the 2013 offseason.

[2] Currently the top 10 are (in no particular order): Tony Parker, Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash, Ty Lawson, Kyrie Irving, and Ricky Rubio

[3] It’s fair to say that now since these two had a legitimate chance to go #2 in that draft