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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Time Stefanski Took Heat

As the NBA trade deadline has apparently come and gone without a move from the 76ers, a question that has rattled around my brain for a while has finally forced me to write about this team. What exactly has Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski done to warrant the nice, if not glowing, image he seems to have with the media?

Note that I did not call it a love affair, but if anyone has criticized the guy it has been done in hushed tones.

So far his notable moves have been trading Kyle Korver, drafting Marreese Speights, signing Elton Brand, and firing Mo Cheeks. Yes, the team took off last year after Korver was dumped and it was a nice cap move, but I don’t buy that Korver was keeping this team from running.

It was absurd how much credit Stefanski got for the turn-around last season. If anything there should’ve been more head scratching over whether or not the Sixers needed to fire Billy King, their previous GM. Plus, the Sixers now need a shooter like Korver, albeit not with the contract he has.

Stefanski has said himself that Speights is better than the team expected. He also plays the same position as the major free agent Stefanski signed last summer in Brand. I liked the Brand signing at the time, but even before this season unfolded, acquiring those two players at the same time made it seem like the GM was hedging his bets. The two moves together just didn’t make much sense.

In hindsight, drafting Speights was a great move, but only because Brand has been a terrible fit. People who keep saying that the signing has to be evaluated next season because of Brand’s injury are optimists at best. Brand played enough for us to see he simply doesn’t fit with the running style this team has decided to commit to.

That was fairly obvious the day they signed him. My assumption, along with most people I heard, was that the organization realized running doesn’t equate to playoff success. Brand should have signaled a major transition for this team. Despite last season’s second-half success, they needed to figure out who could and couldn’t play a half-court game around Brand’s low-post abilities.

They still haven’t done that. In fact, they don’t even seem to believe that.

I’m not convinced Cheeks had begun that process, but it at least looked like he was going through the growing pains of bringing Brand in. The idea that Tony DiLeo is doing some great job is ridiculous. They weren’t any better with Brand under DiLeo. And with Brand out, they’re simply back to running.

In fact, the coaching change should have cast further doubt on Stefanski. He had just extended Cheeks’ contract, and essentially let the coach take the blame for the slow start instead of acknowledging Brand was a mistake.

I used to watch every minute of Sixers’ games, but I just can’t get into them at all now. Despite the appearance of a running team, they’re really directionless. Brand looms in the wings as the anchor that makes the rest of this year essentially meaningless.

At some point it would be nice if Stefanski did something about that.


Jonny Ross said...

Amen. I have been thinking the exact same thing. I think the Sixers should have done something at the trade deadline; but maybe nothing was viable. Either way, Stefanski needs to shake things up because this current group isn't gone get it done.

Anonymous said...

Mostly agree. Drafting Marresse Speights was a great move in any situation though. He is going to be that good and its not like the Sixers roster is full of great front court players even with Brand. Also, enough with Kyle Korver. Korver is an extremely limited player who has not exactly shined with the Jazz.