A few random thoughts about the Sixers as they play two games on the road this week before coming back to meet Washington and New Jersey at the Wachovia Center on the weekend to begin a stretch of seven straight home games.
As the week began, the Sixers were a .500 team, headed for seventh or eighth in the conference seedings and another early playoff exit. Maybe that isn't the way it will work out, but that's the way it looks. In other words a repeat of last season, but with Elton Brand struggling to keep up this time.
So, make yourself Ed Stefanski. Assuming your goal is to win the NBA championship in your lifetime, how do you get from here to there?
The next month is going to be crucial and very interesting, as the Feb. 22 trade deadline approaches. Despite the favorable home schedule, it's going to be a tough stretch against some good teams. At the trade deadline, the Sixers could well be under .500 again and still trying to fit the pieces together.
As you look at this team -- assuming Brand doesn't enjoy a return to his pre-Achilles surgery mobility -- the future is going to hinge on the play of guys like Thaddeus Young, Marreese Speights, Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala and, perhaps, Jason Smith, if he can recover fully from his ACL surgery.
Together, they present exciting possibilities, but that's a group that won't fully mature for at least another season or two. Now, is it better to ride along with an even record while that takes place, or does the record now not matter? Would that group be even better if augmented by a high draft pick?
Depending on how you answer that question will also answer what you think about the idea of trading Andre Miller before the deadline. Miller is a wonderful point guard and the Sixers won't win as many games without him, but maybe that would be a good thing in the long run. He turns 33 in March and is in the last year of his contract. Will he still be as effective, and as deserving of the deal he will no doubt get, when Young, Speights and the others are ready to compete for a long run in the postseason? I'm not so sure.
Brand is another problem entirely, and he might not be tradeable right now, given his shaky physical status and his new contract. But Miller could bring you a valuable piece in trade and the Sixers' future wouldn't be hurt if they drifted home with something less than a .500 record.
I'm not advocating tanking games. That's bad for business, bad for morale. But tanking the roster is another thing. It might be what Stefanski was doing in part last season when he traded Kyle Korver. If so, it didn't work. The team played at a higher level that could have reasonably been expected. Losing Miller would have a greater effect.
And your opinion?