The Philadelphia 76ers have a talented group of players for the 2011-2012 season. However, the Sixers will need to make several tough decisions this season on the future of four of the team's players.
These four players could be dealt this season for a variety of reasons. For one Sixer, it will be because of his play, while the other three are vulnerable to being traded because of their contract situations.
Every team in the NBA must make tough decisions on its players because of the league's salary cap. The Sixers are no different as they will be looking to clear cap space in order to improve the team in the 2013 offseason.
Philadelphia is a few steps away from becoming an elite team, and what the front office decides to do with these four players could shape the team for years to come.
Jrue Holiday is in the last year of his rookie contract. After the 2011-2012 season Holiday will become a restricted free agent, and he will likely draw interest from a plethora of teams.
Holiday slipped to the 76ers who had the 17th pick in the 2009 draft. Holiday has always had the potential to be great, but he has only been an average point guard since he's been in the league.
This potential could lead teams to offer outrageous contracts to Holiday next offseason when he becomes a restricted free agent. The Sixers will then face a tough decision as to whether to overpay to keep him or let him walk. The 76ers can avoid all of this by signing Holiday to an extension before the Oct. 31 deadline.
There is a slim chance that if the Sixers fail to reach an extension with Holiday, they could trade him to a team that is willing to give him a maximum deal.
Philadelphia's head coach Doug Collins decided that Spencer Hawes would be more effective as a power forward than as a backup center for this year's team. Hawes will play along side Andrew Bynum in the Sixers' front court this season.
Hawes improved mightily in his second season with the team. However, Hawes' game still has multiple flaws, the biggest of which is his inability to play consistent defense. Although Doug Collins thinks that he will be more effective defensively at the power forward position, it is still a stretch to assume that he will be improved enough to be even an average defender.
Hawes signed a two-year extension in the offseason, but if the Hawes-Bynum combination struggles, look for the 76ers to deal Hawes to a good team that needs a center.
Jason Richardson was the unheralded piece in the Andrew Bynum-Andre Iguodala deal. Although he is no longer the athlete he once was, Richardson is still a very good three-point shooter and provides a needed veteran presence in the Sixers' locker room.
However, the reason he was included in the Andrew Bynum deal is because he is overpaid. In fact, he will be making around $6 million in each of the next two seasons, and in the third season, he will have a player option for another $6 million.
By comparison, former Sixer Lou Williams, who is much younger than Richardson, will be making around $5 million per year in each the next three seasons.
Although it is unlikely that any other NBA team will want to take on Richardson's contract, if a team needs a three-point scoring threat and makes an offer for Richardson, look for the Sixers to move him.
Thaddeus Young is one of the best bench players in the NBA. He is a versatile forward who does it all for the 76ers.
However, Young has struggled to find a position in the league. He is a matchup nightmare for power forwards on the offensive end, but he is abysmal defending those same power forwards. Also, Young cannot shoot well enough to receive consistent minutes at the small forward position.
Nonetheless, Young is still a valuable piece for the Sixers. The question is how valuable.
Young will earn $8 million in each of the next two seasons and $9 million the season after that. That's a steep price to pay for a reserve forward, so the Sixers may look to move him this season.
If the Sixers re-sign Andrew Bynum, they will not have much cap space to work with this offseason. This lack of cap space may force the Sixers to move Young during the year.