Two months ago, I took exception that Sixers CEO Adam Aron would ask fans who the team should keep or jettison for the following season in the midst of a losing streak.
One of my arguments, though not my most important argument in that case, pointed to how the finances of a basketball team existing under the most complicated CBA in North American sports should not be at all influenced by the whims of fan frustration.
And if I’m going to criticize Aron in that regard, then I would be remiss not to praise him in this instance.
Much like the last time we visited an Aron-Twitter scenario, this tweet was once again born from the management’s public admission that it knows work still needs to be done to turn the Sixers into a real contender.
But, unlike last time, his tweets about the team’s future were accompanied with the reminder that even hard work and the best of intentions don’t guarantee success or, more importantly, the ideal pieces to build a winner.
Since the Sixers’ Game 7 loss to the Celtics, the refrains of “trade Iguodala” and “amnesty Brand” have grown louder and more insistent. That said, those sentiments should really be met with the following responses: “for what?” and “for what immediate benefit?”
Trading Iguodala, everyone should be reminded, does not necessarily equal any extra salary cap space given the rules that govern the amount of cash allowed to be traded back and forth, even though last year’s reworked CBA now makes it easier for teams to swing uneven deals. Cap concerns aside, the actual talent the team receives in return should be a more important priority then simply moving a player out of town. Sure, the divisive forward’s value might currently be the highest it’s been in terms of what he could garner in a trade, but a team would still have to make an offer that benefits the Sixers more than keeping Iguodala for it to be taken seriously. Considering the following question: how might Iguodala’s contract, combined with his skill set, alter his value come the 2013 trade deadline?
The same logic goes for Elton Brand, who has just one year left on his deal. Unless the Sixers are on the verge of landing a franchise-changing free agent or pulling of a blockbuster deal that requires the extra cash, what cause do the Sixers really have to amnesty Brand now? If he had more than one season left on the deal, this conversation would obviously be different, but is it worth expending the clause just to say it was used? He, too, could actually become an intriguing trade piece for the team as the prospect of an $18 million dollar expiring contract could draw some interest around the league.
The central argument here is that there is plenty more that goes into these decisions beyond “he’s old” or “he makes too much money” or “he’s a poor shooter.” The real question should be: Will part
ing ways with Iguodala and/or Brand actually improve the Sixers’ long-term outlook and how?
Just as that argument applies to Brand and Iguodala, it applies to any talent the team could conceivably bring into the fold. Think about the names the Sixers have spent a whole lot of money on in the last decade and consider how those deals worked out — Brand, by the way, the guy so many want to amnesty, is obviously included in that discussion.
In this case, it isn’t about who’s available to sign, trade or amnesty, it’s about how a player fits with a team’s rotation and finances. Change for the sake of change seems far too short-sighted and has proven so for this franchise in the past.
Yes, there’s the idea that the team could totally dismantle and start over, but that takes a conscious and deliberate decision to implode a roster so as to “bottom out” in the mere hopes of landing a star draft pick. That process would require a whole lot more than getting rid of two of the guys who made the Sixers competitive this year and would, more than likely, do the same next year.
So, for as much as criticized Aron for — what I saw as — his playing to the frustrations of a fan base back in March, I applaud him now and join him in reminding that same base that prudence should not be confused with failure.