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The Dilemma of Dealing Iguodala

It has been reported in recent days that the Philadelphia 76ers are actively shopping swingman Andre Iguodala; a plethora of different rumors have provided a variety of possible destinations for Iguodala, including: L.A (Clippers), Golden State and Minnesota.

For those who follow the league, rumors regarding a possible trade of Andre Iguodala are nothing new; due to the size of this contract—$13.5 million next season, $ 14.7 the following season and a player option for $15.9 in the final season—it is widely held that the Sixers are looking to move him in order to save some cash and help facilitate the growth of their young team; but obviously, they are looking for a little more than a salary dump, which, given the fragile nature of team chemistry, could prove to be a difficult task.

The Sixers are in a pretty good position, having just completed a season in which they finished .500, earned the 7th seed in the East and were competitive in their first round series with the eventual Eastern Conference Champions. However taking the next step from a good team, to a great team is not an easy task.

This is why making a deal involving Iguodala becomes such risky business. One wrong move and the chemistry that Doug Collins worked so hard to build this season could be tarnished; given the youth of this team, that issue is a particularly sensitive one.

Andre Iguodala is one of the league’s best perimeter defenders—he was named to the all defensive second team this year—and is a guy his team can depend on to guard the opponents best player on a nightly basis. His ability to defend and score between 15 and 20 points a game make him a very valuable asset, and thus the Sixers must get something quality in return for him in a trade. His status as the defensive anchor on a young team means the 76ers must also be very careful what they get in return. When you look at some of the deals that have been rumored this point is particularly germane.

The original deal reported by ESPN’s Ric Bucher purposed that Golden State would send Monta Ellis to Philadelphia for Andre Iguodala. Such a deal would seem to be beneficial for both teams in the sense that Philadelphia, a team that is lacking a true go to scorer, would get just that in Monta Ellis and Golden State, a team that was one of the worst defensively last season, would get one of the leagues better defenders in Andre Iguodala.

However, the deal is not a simple as it may seem. When you take a closer look at the how the 76ers would look post trade, they would have to make quite a few adjustments to their rotation in order for their new piece to fit. For starters, the Sixers second overall pick from last season, Evan Turner would have to make the move to small forward in order to accommodate the smaller Ellis, who must play at the two guard spot. This would mean that Turner must accept the burden of guarding the opponent’s best players, which by and large, will be bigger stronger forwards. Although one of Turner’s strengths is his defensive ability, taking that next step will be a lot to ask of a young guard in his second year.

Giving Ellis the touches he requires to get his game off could be also a detriment to the offensive game of young guards Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner. Turner struggled to adjust his game to the pro level last season where he had fewer touches than he was used to at the collegiate level; adding Ellis to the mix will only further limit Turner’s touches at the offensive end.

Conversely Holiday is coming off of an impressive season, and even more impressive playoff series in which he seemed to take the next step with his play; running the offense better, and becoming an even more aggressive scorer. Pairing Ellis alongside Holiday may negate some of his budding abilities and hinder his development in those areas.  As you can see, the deal is not as simple as it originally seemed on paper.

Another possible trade being reported has Iguodala being sent to the Clippers for center Chris Kaman. This deal works a little better for the Sixers; it allows them to move Hawes to the bench, which is probably a better fit for them. It also allows the guards more freedom on offense and gives the team a legitimate center that can rebound and defend, complementing Elton Brands face up game in the frontcourt. But again, it leaves the Sixers with a hole at the small forward spot and places a burden on Evan Turner to have to defend their opponents best perimeter player.

There is no doubt that the Sixers would like to shed a portion of Iguodala’s contract heading into an uncertain financial system that the new collective bargaining agreement will provide; but finding the right compensation will not be an easy thing to accomplish. Expect the 76ers to take a long look at their options as trade talks heat up heading into the Draft. Two-way talents such as Iguodala don’t grow on trees, and general managers across league realize that; as the suitors line up the deals will sweeten and eventually the 76ers will get the deal they want, it just might not be the deal you expect.

Hardwood Paroxysm