Until the lockout ends, fans of the Philadelphia 76ers can only hold a collective breath that the team has been paying attention the Phillies and Eagles for tips on how to build a contender.
For nearly a decade, the 76ers have been stuck in a state of mediocrity that has taken its toll on even their most die-hard supporters.
However, as last season showed, brighter days may be just around the corner.
The next step for the Sixers is to build around a young backcourt featuring Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, while determining the future of Andre Iguodala, as well as how to resign Thaddeus Young.
But, with nearly $54 million committed to nine players next season, two qualifying offers already extended to Young and center Spencer Hawes, and an uncertainty surrounding the next salary cap, the Sixers are in a tough spot when it comes to roster moves.
Rather than paying a high price for one of this off-season’s top free agents, the team may be better off finding role players who can have an impact with the current young nucleus, before eventually becoming compliments on a roster full of players about to reach their prime.
The Sixers current roster is filled with potential for great success.
Ensuring that the team reaches this potential is what’s next on the agenda.
He may be the best free agent on the market once the lockout ends, but he’s also an ideal fit for the Sixers.
The 6’11” 28-year-old averaged 14.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, and a block a night last season, all of which were better than his career averages.
Last season was arguably his best season since the 2008-2009 campaign.
His 61.5 field goal percentage was the highest of his career.
The Sixers finished fifth in the Eastern Conference in rebounds per game last season.
After Elton Brand, the Sixers best rebounder was Andre Iguodala, who averaged seven a night.
With Nene at center, the Sixers, who also finished tied for third in the Eastern Conference in steals per game, would have an even better defense going into next season, along with an offensive upgrade.
When compared to current Sixers center Spencer Hawes and his 7.2 ppg and 5.7 rpg, Nene’s addition to a young roster could provide the team with a solid presence down low.
However, with a potential hard salary cap near $45 million, the Sixers would have to be creative in order to acquire Nene, including a possible sign-and-trade deal with the Denver Nuggets.
A 6’6” center?
Not for the Sixers.
Hayes could, however, be a solid addition at power forward for the team.
Hayes is coming off a season in which his points, rebounds, assists, and blocks per game were all career highs.
The 28-year-old averaged 7.9 points a game last year for the Houston Rockets, as well as 8.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 74 games.
Although he played center for the Rockets, his size makes him a more appealing option at power forward.
His addition could allow the Sixers to trade Marreese Speights, who put up 5.4 points and 3.3 rebounds a game in 64 appearances last season.
With the retirement of Yao Ming, and no other unrestricted free agents on their roster, the Rockets may focus all of their attention on resigning Hayes.
But, after making close to $2 million last season, Hayes could be an attractive option for the Sixers.
A little veteran experience wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Sixers.
And Parker may be an appealing candidate.
Parker averaged 8.3 ppg to go along with three rebounds and three assists a night last season for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
However, last season and his 2009-2010 campaign with the Cavaliers were the first time Parker has averaged under 10 ppg since returning to the NBA in 2006.
In three seasons with the Toronto Raptors, Parker never averaged less than 10 points and 3.9 rebounds a game in a season.
In the past five seasons, Parker has started all but 16 games that he’s played in, while averaging close to 30 minutes each night.
If the Sixers decide to trade Iguodala, Parker could provide a solid veteran presence off the bench as a backup for Evan Turner.
Parker’s salary of $2.8 million last season means he is an option for the Sixers.
His age, at 36-years-old, means the Sixers can try to sign him for less.
Landry is far from being a great rebounder, but his scoring could be a nice addition to the Sixers roster.
Landry averaged 11.9 ppg and 4.6 rpg last season. However, he is just one year removed from averaging 18 points and 6.5 rebounds a night.
The Sixers finished 18th in the league last season in points per game, by scoring an average of 99 a night.
Landry put up better numbers than Speights last season and could provide solid numbers off the bench for Elton Brand.
He could be a candidate for the Sixers mid-level exception, as he made $3 million last season.
He’s gotten better.
The Sixers don’t need the version of Brown that was a bust as a former number one overall pick.
But they could use the version that averaged 7.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season.
Last year, with the Charlotte Bobcats, Brown had his best season since 2003-2004.
In 66 games with the Bobcats, Brown averaged 26 minutes while posting a scoring and rebounding mark that was better than his career average, as well as a 51.7 field goal percentage.
Brown by no means puts the Sixers over the top next season.
But, if the team is set on resigning Spencer Hawes, Brown can make a case for solid playing time while rookie Nikola Vucevic adjusts to the NBA.
Brown again gives the team the option of trading Speights, and is a much better choice off the bench than, say, Tony Battie.
And with a salary last season around $1 million, the Sixers may be a good spot for Brown to continue reviving his career.