Spencer Hawes: to re-sign or not to re-sign

Spencer Hawes will be a free agent when the season ends. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

Again, we're just trying to tackle some smaller issues in the weeks leading up to the workouts for the NBA Draft. If you want to read the update on forward Craig Brackins, you can find that here: Brackins. The 76ers trio of president Rod Thorn, general manager Ed Stefanski, and coach Doug Collins will be in Chicago later this week for the draft combine and player interviews. The Sixers hold the No. 16 pick in the draft, which will be held June 23. I know we're repeating a lot of these details with each post, but just want to be sure everyone knows the timeline with which we're working. The draft combine is May 18-22, after which the Sixers will start inviting draft prospects to PCOM for workouts, which will lead into the draft on June 23.

There are unknowns we're approaching in the next few months: what position the Sixers will target in the draft (we'll get a better idea of this in the next two weeks), how they will use their first-and-second round picks on June 23 (we'll be analyzing this in the next few weeks), and how they'll play the trade market to fill gaps in the roster (adding a scorer and a big man, depending on what route they take in the draft). 

Today, per a few emails received, let's talk about center Spencer Hawes. Will the Sixers re-up his contract? Do they see him as next year's possible starting center? Does the franchise value Hawes?

So no one has to go elsewhere to look up Hawes' numbers, we'll lay them out right here. Hawes was acquired via last summer's trade with the Sacramento Kings. The Sixers shipped center Samuel Dalembert to Sacramento in exchange for Hawes and forward Andres Nocioni. Hawes just turned 23 years old. He's a 7-1 center, 245 pounds. He played three seasons for the Kings before being traded, so he just completed his first season with the Sixers and fourth overall in the NBA. He has career averages of 8.4 points and 5.6 rebounds a game. During the 2010-11 season, Hawes started 81 of the 81 games in which he played, finishing the season with averages of 7.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 21.2 minutes a game. In the playoffs, Hawes averaged 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds a game, with his minutes dropping to 19.6 a game.

If you're thinking to yourself: wow, those look like the numbers of a very competent backup center. It's probably because Hawes would be a very competent backup center. During the playoff series against the Miami Heat, especially in the Game 5 loss in Miami, Hawes made some amazing hi-low bounce passes and backdoor bounce passes for easy scores. He does some very nice things with his passing, but for what the Sixers need, that's like having a cleanup hitter who can really lay down a nice bunt. It's a helpful attribute, but if that cleanup hitter doesn't also hit home runs and accumulate RBIs -- in the basketball world, we'll say we mean block shots, grab rebounds, and provide an intense interior presence -- then it's really just an extraneous skill. But as a backup? Hawes' game is looking a lot nicer, almost ideal for what the Sixers would need in that spot. 

Hawes' rookie contract "ended" after the 2010-11 season, with the Sixers paying him approximately $3.0 million for last year's services. The team can make him a qualifying offer of about $4.0 million to retain him for the 2011-12 season. And I'd be genuinely surprised if that doesn't happen.

Let's be clear: it's my understanding that the Sixers recognize that Hawes isn't the answer as the starting center alongside Elton Brand. But, having the luxury of a backup center at Hawes' size and ability is a darn nice thing. And for the price of $4.0 million, not ridiculous at all. In addition, after having watched Hawes around this team all season, he enjoys playing for Doug Collins and enjoys playing for the Sixers, and buys into what's happening here.

Seems we're back to exactly where we started with last week's posts about potential big men: Hawes isn't the answer to that question because the team needs someone who can bang, rebound, and block shots. The Sixers need someone who can complement Brand at power forward and who can do some of the work Brand was forced to do for much of last season. Hawes is a solid piece to an eight-man rotation, and for that reason he'll likely return to the Sixers, but they'll still be mining the draft and testing the trade waters for the answer at starting center.

If you want to follow on Twitter for the quick-hit news (and the breaking news, because that's where it goes first), you can do that here: Deep Sixer. Since we're just addressing some of the smaller issues surrounding the Sixers this week, and as the draft coverage amps up, feel free to email me any question you might want answered. You can do that here: kfagan@phillynews.com


Each week, Kate will check in from the road and answer fan questions about the Sixers. Click here to ask Kate a question or e-mail her at kfagan@phillynews.com.

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