76ers entering offseason of ‘ifs’
During Sunday’s final home game of the season, the Sixers had the past in the house with Dr. J and Moses Malone. They had the present, a team playing out the string of a lost season. The future? It’s cloudy with a strong chance of change.
Ever since Doug Collins was hired in May of 2010, he’s been the face of the franchise. And if Andrew Bynum had been healthy this season, Collins would have been a good bet to return for a fourth season. Now, however, the coach’s impending departure is likely the first domino in what will be a volatile offseason. He still won’t comment on his offseason plans, but appears resigned to moving on.
“I give Josh [Harris] and the organization a lot of credit. They swung for the fences,” Collins said before a 91-77 win over the Cavs. “And unfortunately, Andrew got hurt – and Jason Richardson – and it changed the dynamic of our season.”
So step one of the offseason will include a coaching search. Perhaps the more important step will be re-doing the roster. Bynum, Nick Young, Dorell Wright, Royal Ivey and Damien Wilkins will all be unrestricted free agents. If the Sixers go into July’s free-agency period without any of them re-signed, they’ll have more cap space than they’ve had since the doomed Elton Brand signing of 2008.
According to Thaddeus Young, the longest-tenured Sixer at the tender age of 24, the piece the team needs was under the nose all season.
“We got good wings, we have solid players up and down the roster,” Young said. “We got shooters, we got ball-handlers, we have grunt-work guys. We just need that guy that’s going to put us over the top, center-wise.”
While the search for “that guy” continues, the Sixers insist that lessons have been learned.
“Nothing’s guaranteed,” Jrue Holiday said. “Even though [last year] we did a good job we made it to the first round, the second round. And even this year, we had a really good chance, with Andrew, of making it pretty deep in the playoffs.”
It didn’t happen as a season of what-ifs wraps — and an offseason of ifs begins.