Questions to ponder in final stretch of Sixers' season
MIAMI - With only about a quarter of the season left and the 76ers' chances of getting to the postseason remote, let's look at some of the more popular questions at the forefront of people's minds.
Q: Will Doug Collins return as coach next season?
A: Asking this question to the coach gets the same response each time, that he is keeping his focus on this season and that looking into the future doesn't do anyone any good. But . . .
It's not hard to see how this dismal season has worn on Collins, as he wears his heart on his sleeve each and every game. His news conference following a terrible loss to the lowly Orlando Magic was picked up nationally, and many questioned whether he should have called out his players. Really, it was just a coach speaking the truth, and his players certainly didn't seem to have much of a problem with what Collins pointed out during that 11-plus-minute Q & A.
Many will point to the fact that Collins did not stay with a team for more than 3 years in his previous stints with the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards. Many say that his style wore on his players and that he had to go. There is no doubt Collins is a very, very competitive individual and has trouble with anyone who doesn't have the same competitive fire that burns inside him - much like one of his former star players, Michael Jordan. Perhaps that does wear on players. It probably even wears on Collins himself, but that is the makeup of the man. And couldn't this Sixers team use a little of his competitive spirit?
Fifty percent of me says that he will leave after this season - with the Andrew Bynum situation, the injuries, the losses, the season that was supposed to be but wasn't - because of all that has happened. He probably could go back to analyzing games for TNT, where he is the best in the business. That job probably looks more and more enticing with each loss his team piles up.
The other 50 percent thinks he will stay because of that competitive fire. When he came to Philadelphia in 2010, he said he knew a championship wasn't right around the corner, but his goal was to grow this organization, to take it to a better place than it was before he got here. That hasn't happened, mostly because of Bynum's troubled knees. That might not be the way the coach wants to get out.
Q: Why did it take so long for Arnett Moultrie to see the court?
A: There really was more going on behind the scenes with Moultrie than many knew about. The ankle injury he suffered in his last NBA predraft workout caused him to be placed in a protective boot for more than 6 weeks. When training camp opened in early October, he was about 60 percent recovered. So you had an injured rookie, trying to learn the NBA game and his new team's system all while sitting on the sideline trying to get healthy.
Then the season begins and practices are limited. When Moultrie finally was fully healthy, around midseason, he wasn't in the best basketball shape. Also, the Sixers were still in the playoff hunt, and throwing a rookie into the fray is not something Collins wanted to do. From here on out, we undoubtedly will see a lot of Moultrie, along with guard Charles Jenkins, to get a clue of how NBA-ready he is.
Q: What will the Sixers do during the offseason?
A: This very well could be the biggest offseason for the team in more than a decade. Of course, the Bynum trade didn't work, but very few people disagreed with it when it went down. The trade couldn't have worked out worse for the Sixers, so can they rectify it this offseason?
One option would be to try to sign Bynum for a couple of years with an incentive-heavy contract in the hopes he can return to the player he was with the Lakers last season. For this to happen, the Sixers will have to be assured by doctors that there is a procedure that will allow Bynum to return to the court in a healthy manner.
Another would be just to cut ties, an option many, many fans are on board with. Should that happen, the Sixers would gain his $16.9 million under the salary cap and rid themselves of the circus he has created. Problem is, where do you go from there?
They have other expiring contracts (Nick Young's $6 million, Dorell Wright's $4.1 million, and $1.2 million each on Royal Ivey and Damien Wilkins), so they could have a lot of money to spend. But it won't be a huge free-agent market; no one out there could make the impact a healthy Bynum would. General manager Tony DiLeo and company have a lot of tough decisions make this offseason.
Q: Will the team remain patient with Evan Turner?
A: If the Sixers can't do a deal involving him that they like, then yes. There is interest in Turner throughout the NBA, based on his potential and signs he has shown throughout his three seasons. There is also that irritating inconsistency that has dogged him throughout his career. Except for Jrue Holiday and probably Thaddeus Young, no one on this roster is untouchable, and shouldn't be. And Turner might be the most intriguing movable piece they have.
This team will, yet again, look much different from how it looks right now. Whether it's trades or free agents or a combination of both remains to be seen.