Does Sixers' GM Ed Stefanski Deserve To Keep His Job?
In the world of sports we tend to take player, coach, and management positions as non-guaranteed. Everyday a person's approval rating can change, and if the penalty is severe enough he is fired. This is commonplace in most sports cities, but in the city of Philadelphia and in the Sixers' organization it seems that you can fail repeatedly and still keep your job.
Ed Stefanski isn't the worst GM the team has ever had (hell Jack Ramsey traded Wilt Chamberlain), but Stefanski has made some major blunders that have drastically hurt this organization, yet he sits with relative job security.
This is a list of the high's and low's of Stefanski's tenure with the Sixers and, in the end you tell me if he deserves to keep his job.
Elton Brand Signing—Low
After having a mid-superstar-like tenure in L.A., Brand was signed by Stefanski from the Clippers in 2008 to a five-year, $79.7 million dollar deal. This seemed like a smart move for a productive healthy player, but Brand was coming off of surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles' tendon.
After a long summer of rehabbing Brand played only played in 29 games in 2009 before suffering another season-ending injury, this time to his right shoulder.
Brand has never returned to his top-tier form and became a $16 million dollar bench player for most of last season as the team failed to perform on the court.
The signing has not only affected Brand but has also held back the franchise, as the team has been virtually non-existent is free agency, not even getting involved in this year's highly touted free-agent market.
In 2009 the team needed a new coach. After firing former Sixer Mo Cheeks, who made the playoffs in each of his first three years on the job, Stefanski spent the summer of 2009 looking for a new skipper.
Instead of bringing in big names throughout the summer he brought in a comfort pick and ended up signing long-time friend Eddie Jordan to take over the team's coaching position.
Jordan had previously spent six seasons with the Washington Wizards and was fired in 2009 after starting the season 1-10. Stefanski made the move because he was familiar with Jordan from their days with the New Jersey Nets and felt that the pick was safe for his job.
The Jordan move backfired on the team as they spent the season towards the basement of the Eastern Conference, going 27-55 and losing players midway through the season.
Jordan was supposedly a master of the "Princeton Offense," yet the run-and-gun, high passing offense failed with a team that lacked the three-point and outside shooting needed for the scheme to be effective.
Stefanski righted his mistake by firing Jordan just two days after the completion of the season, but Eddie's four-year, $16 million dollar deal is another monetary mistake the team will have to get through.
2010 NBA Draft—???
As a result of their dismal season, the Sixers had a chance to look on the bright side with the NBA draft lottery. The team lucked out, nabbing the second overall pick and taking Evan Turner from Ohio State.
If you look at the draft lottery no front office person (Irene Pollen excluded) was happier with the Sixers' placement. The pick of Turner was a no-brainer for the team, yet Stefanski spurred rumors the team was looking at taking Derrick Favors with the second pick.
Because the jury is still out on Turner, it is yet to be seen if this was a win or not, but Stefanski used the Sixers' fortune as a way to boost his public approval and try to get fans to ignore his past mistakes.
Failure To Pull The Trigger—Low
As much as it would be nice to blame the Iguodala contract on Ed, that move has to sit on the shoulder of former GM Billy King.
The part of Iguodala's presence in Philly that I put on Stefanski is the GM's lack of urgency to pull the trigger on past mistakes. The Sixers have had multiple chances to rid themselves of A.I. two, yet none of them have come to fruition.
At last year's trade deadline it was public knowledge that the Houston Rockets were looking to shed Tracy McGrady's expiring contract to anyone who was interested, and many times the Sixers' name came up.
We saw McGrady go to the Knicks to free up more salary cap room for the summer as the Sixers sat back and watched the years of Iguodala pile up in their checkbook.
We even heard rumblings that the Phoenix Suns were looking at making a move involving now departed center Amar'e Stoudemire. Again the Sixers name came up, yet nothing happened.
The only move the team made was picking up another injured low-post flop in Francisco Elson and losing a draft pick to pick up point guard Jodie Meeks.
The most effective general managers make moves and look out for the best interests of their teams, yet Stefanski has seemed gun-shy since the Brand deal and has remained timid when it comes to making moves.
Allen Iverson's Return—Low
Last season the Sixers were sitting in the basement of the league's attendance numbers and were in desperate need of a way to get people in the arena. After his much public flare-out with the Memphis Grizzlies, Allen Iverson was sitting at home as a unsigned free agent.
Stefanski, looking for a way to make the team seem relevant, signed Iverson to a one-year deal and made a highly public homecoming for the 14-year pro.
Now it was nice to see Iverson back in Sixers' colors, and his short stint with the team seemed to energize the young club, but the move seemed to backfire, as the team only managed one sell-out during the homecoming tour (Iverson's first game back). Then, because of a family illness, Iverson was dismissed from the team, and the team went back to its lackluster season.
You can't blame the man for trying, but this entire move was a PR stunt that made Stefanski look better in the fans' eyes because he gave them back their franchise player.
Three Strikes Policy
In the NBA a small mistake can put a team years behind, and a bad contract can tie the hands of a franchise to the point where contention is a pipe dream. I know its a childish policy, but I think the three strikes rule works here.
A general manager has the jobs of making moves to benefit the future of a team and making decisions that are in the team's best interest. From what I can see that has not been the case with Stefanski, and if this team is ever going to return to its former prominence then there needs to be a new general in town.
Sorry Eddie—three strikes and you should be out.