When the NBA's hot stove got cooking over the last couple weeks, the Eastern Conference was active.
The Nets added Joe Johnson, the Heat signed Ray Allen, the Knicks lured Jason Kidd and the Celtics sprung for Jason Terry. The Sixers? Meet Kwame Brown, Nick Young and Dorrell Wright. Say goodbye to Elton Brand, Lou Williams and Jodie Meeks.
"We had a plan," coach Doug Collins said. "They weren't necessarily going to be home runs, but they were going to be guys that added exactly what we needed."
The Sixers think they got better with the moves, but realistically any improvement in talent is marginal. The real key to the 2012-13 roster is the sudden salary cap flexibility.
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Brown was signed to a two-year pact, Young to a one-year contract and Wright's deal expires after this year. In the summer of 2014, Andre Iguodala and Spencer Hawes will be unrestricted free agents. For the first time in a decade, the Sixers aren't saddled with a fistful of ugly contracts.
"The big thing about it is that you don't want to get locked into contracts that you have no chance to get better," Collins said. "That's one of the things we want to stay away from."
By avoiding those nightmare contracts, the Sixers are setting themselves up for another run at a superstar free agent. The $80-million Brand signing in 2008 proved to be an unmitigated disaster, culminating with the Sixers paying $16 million for him to play in Dallas this season.
That was strike one. The new plan has the Sixers developing young talent while setting themselves up for another big swing.