OK, here's the latest going on with the 76ers here from Oracle Arena in Oakland. Tonight, the Sixers play the Golden State Warriors in the first of a three-game Western swing that continues tomorrow night and the Suns and finishes up on Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.
We're all caught up on the Allen Iverson news (definitely out until March 1 at home against the Orlando Magic, but likely longer, and perhaps for good). Just spoke with coach Eddie Jordan and he'll be starting a backcourt of Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams.
Sixers will still be without Willie Green, who's been out with a shoulder injury since Feb. 16 against the Miami heat, and Jason Smith, who sprained his right ankle against the Toronto Raptors on Feb. 10. Green's absence, combined with Iverson's absence, will leave the Sixers with few options at guard. Good thing will be that Jordan and the organization can probably get an early look at Jodie Meeks, which they obviously wanted when trading for Meeks.
Here's the update on Francisco Elson, who joined Meeks in that trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Sixers waived his physical and he still hasn't joined the team. One source indicated that he might not be joining the team before this season has ended, but we'll update that as it progresses. Technically he's just filling Primoz Brezec's spot, so there's not a ton of minutes he needs to fill.
So, onto some other stuff. Here's a few thoughts:
1.) Jrue Holiday needs to play 30-plus minutes a game from here on out. I can't think of any reason why the rookie shouldn't be playing those types of minutes. He played a game-high 45 minutes against the San Antonio Spurs (a victory) and then against the Chicago Bulls played 23 minutes -- and was not in the game in the second quarter when Chicago began their 29-1 run. In no way is this saying that Holiday is pure greatness and doesn't make some bad decisions and take some bad shots, but the Sixers have a chance to give this kid revealing minutes and they need to take advantage of it.
2.) The two blowout losses. When the Sixers lost to the Miami Heat on Feb. 16, a bigtime loss, afterwards both Jordan and the players said, "in the NBA, this happens once or twice a year, you can't dwell on it, you just chalk it up to 'your turn' and move on." You couldn't really argue that point at the time, because it does happen. It was certainly bad timing, but the Sixers aren't known for getting beaten that badly, actually quite the opposite. Now, when it happened again less than a week later -- and with such a good win over the Spurs in between -- now that's when you start to worry that things are about to go downhill quite quickly. And how do you explain it twice in one week except to assume that there are some folks partially checked out?
That second point makes tonight's game against the Warriors especially interesting. The Bulls aren't the Lakers, but they're a playoff team. But the Warriors? The Warriors are second-worst in the Western Conference. If tonight doesn't go smoothly -- and there's that possibility with the way the Warriors are capable of shooting the ball and running in transition -- it could be a long trek back to Philly with stops in Phoenix and Los Angeles.
One more thing about the no-go trade with the Houston Rockets that we reported here on Deep Sixer. Yes, the Sixers could have traded Iguodala and Dalembert to Houston for McGrady and Budinger (that's precisely the trade that the Sixers 100 percent could have made), but, to clarify, it's not as if the Sixers would have entered this off-season with $23 million in cap space (the value of McGrady's expiring contract). Because of the escalating pay scales for players like Elton Brand, Lou Williams, Willie Green, Jason Kapono, and all of the young players' contracts (Thaddeus Young, Speights, Jrue Holiday, Jason Smith) combined with the decreasing salary cap for next season, the Sixers would have cleared approximately $7 million towards summer free agents. In essence, it wouldn't have freed them to compete this summer for a marquee free agent. It would have been a starting point towards clearing space. Just thought I'd clear that up.