A Sixer-Sized Setback
How the impending lockout would affect Philly’s progress.
Despite a pretty solid season for the Sixers, they finished with the worst attendance percentage in the League at 72.6 percent. Yes, the very worst. A Playoff team for that matter! We here in Philly appreciated the efforts of Doug Collins and the young’ns for turning in a respectable year but are also very aware that this front office has failed to generate a championship-contending product for a long time now. It’s almost as if management is content with just making the Playoffs, and couple that with the multitude of horrible contracts they’ve dished out (Iguodala, Brand, Samuel Dalembert, Chris Webber, Willie Green, etc.) and the fans just cannot be satisfied with the organization’s efforts. Therefore, no season—no pathetic half-filled arena. But this scenario could easily turn into a…
It’s only a Pro if basketball is sorely missed so much that hordes of Philly fans fill the Wells Fargo Center once the 2012 season begins. It’s possible. Sure, the Eagles, Phillies and even Flyers are stealing all the headlines these days, and rightfully so, but a full hoop-less season would make any fanatic miss the sport. Hopefully, the Sixers make a couple moves before their first game back as well and have this city buzzing about their once-beloved basketball team. This one is definitely to be determined.
Lou Williams‘ once bloated contract
At only 24 years old, Lou-Will already has six years of experience and is the second longest tenured 76er behind Iguodala. After a decent ’07-08 season off the bench, Williams received a generous five-year, $25 million extension which, back then, I considered as yet another bloated deal contrived by the front office. But Williams has definitely played his way into that contract, and at such a young age holds incredible value, especially for his offensive ability. Williams and Thaddeus Young formed one of the best reserve duos this past season across the whole NBA, and Lou eventually grew into the fourth quarter go-to-guy late in the season and the postseason. While he is still under contract until 2013, the Sixers would be unable to reach some kind of extension with him until the League re-opens its doors with a new CBA. And once that grand day comes, you best believe plenty of teams will vie for the services of the youthful veteran as well.
Hindering the youth
It’s no secret that the Sixers boast an unseasoned roster which will only get younger in the coming years with all those contracts coming off the books. Last season was definitely a work in progress, but new coach Doug Collins had his guys playing way above their age near the end of the season to finish 41-41, good for 7th seed in the East. Jrue Holiday, who just turned 21, is clearly the new face of this organization and has the potential to be one of the star point guards of the entire League in the coming years. He needed this year in order to continue his progression which now seems like a futile thought. I only say Jrue could use the work more than Evan Turner just because Holiday’s ceiling seems much higher, but don’t let that discount how much a missed season will affect Turner as well. He definitely showed flashes, but they were few and far between and if any rookie needed his sophomore season, it was definitely Evan Turner. As well as working on their individual games, another year together for the entire team was crucial for chemistry purposes. It also seemed like there was a real sense of excitement in Philly’s locker room late last year with thoughts of the future, so as sad as it is to say, a lost season really sets this team back in their quest to once again become a true contender in the East.
Doug Collins’ year off
Not only did Collins greatly improve his young players’ games in his first year coaching the Sixers, he also utilized Elton Brand well and finally instilled a real sense of defense into this team. All in all, Doug Collins was a godsend as he made a serious case for himself for Coach of the Year by the time April rolled around. While this team has plenty of talent, they needed a respected coach to manage and teach them, which Eddie Jordan completely failed at two years ago. But Collins does have a reputation of staying with his teams for only short periods and hasn’t really stamped his coaching legacy into one particular franchise yet. Everyone knows he loved coaching Philly last year and has tons of history with the city after playing for the organization from 1973-81, but a full year off would again let him catch of glimpse of life outside the League. Collins has had a few broadcasting stints in between coaching stops and it’s a foregone conclusion that he’ll end up back in the booth once he stops coaching again. The Sixers reached a four-year contract with him before the 2010 season, but it would be nice if Collins stays even longer to oversee the entire fruition of this team.