NBA@2: Sixers Making Their Moves
The Philadelphia 76ers have been a team on the rise since Doug Collins took over as head coach, but the team had some serious questions to answer coming into this offseason. They had aggressive plans for improvement, but not much cap space to use in reaching their goal, and that’s an issue they are about to correct.
Early on, the subject of amnestying Elton Brand came up, and now the team is ready to go down that path. Brand’s $18 million expiring contract might have fetched some attractive pieces, but according to the Philadelphia Inquirer the team is on the verge of paying Brand to walk away.
On the building side, the Sixers have reached an agreement with Nick Young on a one-year, $6 million contract that will instantly improve the team’s outside shooting. It’s one of those moves that has repercussions elsewhere, as Young was one of the best free agent shooting guards available. Ray Allen will now be even more in demand, as will players like O.J. Mayo and Courtney Lee, who have been players of interest to a number of teams over the last week.
The Sixers drafted a power forward in Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie, but will have to address the position in free agency now that Brand is gone.
Expect Brand to now become the subject of talks for championship teams, who could potentially sign Brand to a minimum deal and significantly improve their supporting cast. The Boston Celtics are looking for help up front, and teams like the Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, New York Knicks and even the Los Angeles Lakers could potentially look to take advantage of Brand’s sudden, inexpensive availability. However, keep in mind that under-the-cap teams will get to bid on Brand first.
This summer’s free agent crop may not have the homerun player the Sixers need to jettison themselves to the status of the East’s elite, but they are certainly positioning themselves to be major players next summer, when players like Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and Monta Ellis could be there for the taking. Considering how much better teams like Boston, New York and Brooklyn have gotten this summer, the Sixers are likely going to need a big name to compete.
The Sixers are also said to be exploring trade options for Andre Iguodala, who would draw interest from teams like Toronto and Sacramento, who are looking for upgrades on the wing. This might be the summer Philly blows it up in favor of positioning themselves to field a super team in free agency next summer.
Parker Gets Clearance
One of the great debates raging around the NBA is the issue of how much players are allowed to participate in international competition during the offseason, and few teams have had to address the issue as much as the San Antonio Spurs. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, in particular, are key parts of their international teams, and come Olympic time the competition gets pretty intense.
Despite the outcry from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban about NBA players participating and potentially getting injured while playing internationally, the Spurs have been supportive of their players’ desire to compete with their national teams, and in that tradition they have cleared Parker to play for France in the upcoming Olympics.
“I just arrived in Paris with good news,” Parker said via Twitter. “I’m going to the Olympics!!! I’m really happy I got the green light from Spurs!! Thank you Pop!! Now, towards London with beautiful glasses!!!”
While the approval of the Spurs was a foregone conclusion, the real concern for Parker was an eye injury he sustained during a bar fight in June. The glass that penetrated his eye was originally considered to be a threat to Parker’s playing career, but he has now been cleared to return to basketball.
“The two ophthalmologists (from the Spurs) confirmed the opinion of the French doctor who operated on Tony Parker, and the two Swiss specialists who also examined the player last Thursday, and indicated that he can resume playing,” read the statement from the French Basketball Federation.
It’s good news and bad news for the Spurs. The good news is that Parker is back to 100 percent. The bad news is that there is always a chance that Parker could get injured while playing for France and derail San Antonio’s ever-narrowing championship hopes.
Derek Fisher in Demand
Point guards have been in the news a lot over the last couple of days, with Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry and Jeremy Lin all determining their fates through trades or free agency. Today, Derek Fisher joins the ranks of the rumored, as offers pour in from teams who would love to add a veteran floor leader with a reputation for clutch play and a championship leadership.
The Brooklyn Nets are said to be the frontrunners, and would love to have Fisher backing up Williams on what is sure to be one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams next season. Just as Fisher helped provide steady guidance and clutch play for the Thunder last season, the Nets would like to see him help them enjoy the same kind of success next season.
The Nets are not alone, however. The Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Oklahoma City Thunder are all said to be interested in the free agent point guard. The Thunder loved what he brought to the team, and the Bulls would like him to be a part of their solution to Derrick Rose’s extended injury. The Mavs are just looking for bodies to fill the roster at this point, and the Cavaliers would love to have Fisher mentor budding young point guard Kyrie Irving.
It may not come down to money for Fisher, who refused to report to the Houston Rockets last season after he was traded because he didn’t want to rebuild. The Thunder, Bulls and Nets would all offer Fisher an opportunity to get deep into the playoffs again, so they may be the frontrunners at this point.
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