With the 2012-13 regular season just under three weeks away, NBA franchises are becoming frantic as they place the finishing touches on their respective rosters.
From signing and cutting the final pieces to filling the vacant roster spots, general managers and coaches now have three weeks to perfect their sculpted rotational masterpieces.
If they fail to, a significant overhaul at the trade deadline will be the only way to improve upon their mistakes.
The task at hand will not end with the addition and subtraction of players, however, as the members of the current roster must be accounted for, as well. With a handful of players entering free agency in each passing year, the task of financial risk comes into play.
For the Philadelphia 76ers, their two most promising stars are both entering that stage of their careers.
Point guard Jrue Holiday and center Andrew Bynum will both become free agents this offseason, thus presenting the Sixers with the possibility of losing each of their franchise cornerstones. Through all of the hype comes one frightening reality: Philly could lose it all before it truly begins.
For that reason, it is imperative the 76ers lock Holiday up now to extend Bynum later. Fortunately for Sixers fans, that's exactly what the franchise is prepared to do.
According to John Finger of CSN Philadelphia, the 76ers are currently engaged in contract talks with Jrue Holiday. Per a report via Marc Stein of ESPN.com, a deal could be done by the October 30th signing deadline.
If the 76ers are unable to strike an agreement by then, a potentially devastating offseason could be in the works.
Jrue Holiday Wants a Max Deal
Despite falling into the category of "average" with his production through his three years in the league, Jrue Holiday is demanding the Sixers go all out in order to re-sign him. According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, Holiday is hoping to receive a max contract.
Sixers guard Jrue Holiday added to USA select team roster. Holiday also is seeking a max contract extension from Sixers, source tells Yahoo!— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 2, 2012
Although Holiday has since clarified those statements, claiming that he hopes to one day become a player worthy of a max contract, it's clear which direction he's headed in. The former UCLA Bruin will not come cheap for whichever team opts to bring him aboard, which is exactly why the Sixers cannot afford to enter an offseason bidding war.
Even if he hasn't done much to prove worthy of such a hefty deal.
In 2011, Holiday averaged 14.0 points and 6.5 assists per game. In 2012, those numbers dropped to 13.5 points and 4.5 dimes. While we could debate whether or not he's deserving of such a contract, one thing is clear.
If they don't risk overpaying right now, they may not have the resources to bring back Andrew Bynum later.
Working on one max contract is a daunting task in its own right. When a franchise is tasked with taking on two contracts of the sort, however, their free agency period begins to appear as one in which a player will either end up getting away or being overpaid.
Can't Lose the Point Guard-Center Combination
The truth that many fans fail to acknowledge is that Holiday, as an individual, is an expendable. At 22, he has all the promise in the world. The fact that he has never produced at anything more than an above-average level, however, suggests that the term "upside" is declining in value.
Bynum, meanwhile, is the second-best center in the NBA and has the upside to take over the top spot. Unfortunately for Philly, this isn't a matter of choosing one and passing on the other.
This is a package deal.
Without the player they've designated to be their franchise point guard, the building process takes a significant step backwards. Holiday and Bynum are expected to run a high-low game that includes the mastering of the pick-and-roll.
To end that development after one year and expect a new player to fill the void would be nonsensical. It would also be detrimental to any momentum the Sixers build in 2012-13.
Don't hold your breath on rookie Malik Wayns, folks. As long as Andrew Bynum is in the plans, Jrue Holiday is a necessity.
Can Bynum Win in Philadelphia?
The most important aspect of these transactions is the act of placating Andrew Bynum. Already a two-time NBA champion, there is no reason to believe that the 24-year-old will re-sign with a team that does not present him with a chance of striking gold.
So what does Philly have to offer?
If the Philadelphia 76ers are to achieve the feat of re-signing him, they must display a long-term commitment to their current core. Otherwise, the uncertainty may drive the big man straight out of Philly.
This makes the re-signing of Jrue Holiday all the more important. As previously alluded to, any great big man needs consistency at the point guard position. The player who feeds him the ball will become his most relied upon teammate.
Furthermore, Holiday is a part of a young core that some had already projected to contend in the Eastern Conference. The 22-year-old point guard is joined by 23-year-old Evan Turner, as well as Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen and Thaddeus Young at 24.
This promising group of youthful talent may or may not live up to their potential. In order to re-sign their star player, however, the Sixers must take that risk and commit to what they've constructed.
The fate of Andrew Bynum rests upon the front office's ability to keep this core intact. For the Philadelphia 76ers, it all begins with Jrue Holiday.