Sixers Playoff Run Comes to an End: What Does it All Mean?

Rajon Rondo scored 11 points late in the fourth quarter to propel his team to the Eastern Conference Finals.

I chose to wait a night before writing about the Sixers loss to the Boston Celtics. I wanted to take a few hours to internalize everything that happened and I did not want to rush to my computer without having something to say that was well conceived and fully thought out. I spoke with several friends and family members following last night’s 85-75 loss. I heard several ideas about what the Sixers must do in the offseason, and who they should let go and target, and where they go from here. I promise, that article will come, but I do not want to be the type who gives you my “if I were GM” offseason plan without sitting back, looking at the season as a whole, including the playoffs, and thus coming up with a well thought out and realistic strategy.

In the meantime, I want to discuss what the playoff run meant for this Sixers team. The biggest thing that the organization takes away from this playoff run is pure knowledge.

It starts with the players. Now, all of these young guys can check something off their NBA experiences list. They can say they know what it feels like to lead a division and have the target on their back, they know how to win a playoff round and put a team away that they are supposed to beat. They know how to put aside the national media and take on a better opponent and win. They know how to fight off elimination in a Game 6. They’ve faced the pressure of a Game 7. All of these are valuable lessons that they would have not received without these extra 13 games.

The coach and organization learned lessons as well. I strongly believe that with the exception of Evan Turner, the organization now has a clear knowledge of what they have in each and every player. This playoff run has shown the organization that they have a foundation that is worth building on. That is key because an 8th seed that gets swept, typically gets blown up in today’s NBA. But an 8th seed that takes a team like the Boston Celtics to the last three minutes of a Game 7 in the second round, may be worth tinkering with a bit.

We have watched the Sixers grow up in these last 13 games. Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala emerged as the two most important pieces of this team. Will they both be back? Holiday is a certain yes. Iguodala will be more interesting. I fully believe that if the Sixers get rid of Iguodala, the team will immediately miss what he does.

Will Andre Iguodala, the longest tenured Sixer, be back next season?

Andre Iguodala is not a great scorer and never will be. He is however, a great basketball player. He is going to be an important asset to whoever he suits up for.

Evan Turner got some time in the playoffs and next season, he has to be the starter at shooting guard. He played well in the Chicago series and had some moments in the Boston series, but the bottom line is, you have to find out what you have in him. Coming off the bench, will not do that for you.

The Sixers will soon have to decide whether or not Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner can co-exist.

The team also has to decide what to do with Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams. Williams can opt out of his deal and will most likely command more money elsewhere. Is Young a career sixth man? He had one of the best seasons of any Sixers player and perhaps had the worst playoffs out of the regulars.

Elton Brand perhaps suited up for the Sixers for the final time last night. The NBA amnesty clause may be Brand’s fate this offseason. The team could certainly use the cap relief. However, the money may not make up for what Brand brought in terms of leadership and sportsmanship.

Spencer Hawes is a free agent. The common denominator amongst people that I’ve spoken to is that this team needs a legitimate, back to the basket, scoring and rebounding center. People do not realize that they are really only describing three current NBA players and there are 30 teams. If no one is available, do you bring back Hawes.

At some point, I’ll breakdown some numbers, look at some tape, breakdown the draft prospects and the free agents, and come up with an offseason plan. In the meantime, we’ll have to ponder the questions that face this team and look back on the entertaining run they gave Philadelphia.

Doug Collins and Rod Thorn will have to come up with a strategy to improve the team this summer.

This playoff run taught me that Philadelphia now has a relevant basketball team that is worth building on. They have a GM in Rod Thorn who is bold and not afraid to make well calculated shake ups. They have a coach in Doug Collins that has perhaps one of the highest basketball IQ’s in the league. And they have ownership that is fully committed to winning. That Big 3 is almost as important as any Big 3 currently on the floor.

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