Philadelphia 76ers: 2012 Offseason Success Now Hinges on Andre Iguodala Trade

Bryan ToporekFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 23: Andre Iguodala #9, Spencer Hawes #00 and Evan Turner #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers celebrate a play during the game against the Boston Celtics in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on May 23, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

After spending years pleading for serious offseason activity, Philadelphia 76ers fans sure can't be too critical of their team this summer.

It all started on draft night, when the Sixers traded a future first-round pick to the Miami Heat for Arnett Moultrie, selected 27th overall. The 6'11" Moultrie had been a reported target for the Sixers at No. 15, but the Sixers instead picked St. John's small forward Moe Harkless at that spot.

With Andre Iguodala, the Sixers' lone All-Star, immersed in trade rumors the past few seasons, conjecture flared up soon after the Harkless pick. The two share the same position, creating a potential logjam on the wing if both players remain on the Sixers' roster this fall.

Then, once free agency opened on July 1, pandemonium broke loose.

Nick Young earned himself a one-year, $6 million deal from the team, ending Lou Williams' tenure in Philly. Elton Brand was axed via the amnesty clause, and Spencer Hawes found himself on the receiving end of a two-year, $13 million, to the chagrin of many fans.

On Tuesday night, news broke that the Sixers would be trading the rights to a player stashed in Europe (presumably the 6'11" Edin Bavcic?) to the Golden State Warriors for small forward Dorell Wright.

Wright led the NBA in both three-point field goals made and attempted in the 2010-11 season for the Warriors, knocking down nearly 38 percent of his tries. He comes to the Sixers with a 36.5 percent career average from downtown, and gives the team another sharpshooter to replace Jodie Meeks.

With the addition of two small forwards this summer, one thing's been made very clear by Philadelphia.

More than ever, they've paved a path out of town for Iguodala.

It's now up to the Sixers front office to follow through on the oft-rumored move before the hottest summer action dries up.

With Iguodala just having been named to the Olympic team this past Saturday, his trade value could very well be at an all-time high.

He'll never be mistaken for Kevin Durant on offense, but defensively, he has few peers in the NBA. His ability to lock down opposing superstars earned him both a spot on Team USA this summer and his first All-Star appearance this past February.

Offensively, Iguodala showed new spark this year in some regards, too. He knocked down a career-high 39.4 percent of his shots from deep this season, despite averaging his fewest points per game since the 2005-06 season.

With career averages of roughly 15 points, six rebounds and five assists per game, Iguodala has always been essentially a poor man's LeBron James on offense, making him not an ideal No. 1 option for a team.

Defensively, though? Sic him on whoever you'd like.

That lockdown ability has been the key to interest in Iguodala in years past, and there's no reason to expect the trend to end this summer.

No matter whether the Portland Trailblazers match the reported four-year, $45 million offer sheet for Nicolas Batum from the Minnesota Timberwolves, one of those two teams will emerge with a gaping hole at small forward.

Short of Wesley Matthews, the Blazers likely lack many enticing pieces in the eyes of the Sixers. In that case, Philly fans should be praying for the Blazers to match Batum's offer sheet and retain him.

Because who would be on the short end of that deal? Minnesota general manager David Kahn.

Kahn's caught some heat over the years (to say the least) for his often-questionable decisions, like drafting three point guards in the first round of one draft. Recently, he managed to infuriate his franchise player by refusing to offer him a five-year max deal, instead allowing him to opt out after the third year.

These are the types of decision-makers the Sixers need to target this week.

Love and point guard Ricky Rubio presumably can't be touched, but the Wolves have a number of other players that could interest the Sixers, starting with center Nikola Pekovic. If Minnesota declares Pek an untouchable, too, both Derrick Williams and Wesley Johnson could be adequate replacements at small forward for Iguodala.

If Minnesota doesn't bite on Iguodala, keep your eye on Utah, as Liberty Ballers' Michael Levin suggests. Derrick Favors likely can't be had (the Sixers lost out on their shot at him by selecting Evan Turner in the 2010 draft), but Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap or Enes Kanter could be available for the right price.

Both Millsap and Jefferson have contracts that expire after this season, which would leave the Sixers relatively competitive this season while allowing them to maintain maximum salary cap flexibility for next summer, where they're shaping up to be major players.

Ultimately, coming off his most recognized season, a number of other teams will likely express interest in Iguodala's availability once the free agency moratorium lifts, if they haven't already.

Will the Sixers trade Iguodala while he's off representing his country?

Can they afford to wait?

With the additions of Harkless and now Wright, the Sixers have sent the clear message that they're ready to move on from Iguodala.

What the front office can wrangle in return for their lone All-Star will go a long way toward determining the success of this offseason for Philadelphia.