Will the Sixers Target Deron Williams?
Yesterday’s win for Heat was a loss for your 76ers. Not because the Pacers prove a tougher Eastern Conference Finals match-up than do the Heat.
But because as Miami inches closer toward validation, Deron Williams slips farther from Philly's free agent reach.
What? You don’t think the two are interconnected? How couldn’t you? Williams, a free agent at the end of the 2011-12 league year, is the biggest prize of this coming free agent crop, one that, however you slice it, is otherwise pretty lean. Wade becoming available on the trade block beefs that race up a bit.
Don’t think it will happen? Maybe not Williams-to-Philly. (Maybe no matter what.)
But, should the Heat get the door in the Eastern Conference Semis – essentially the equivalent of Manny Pacquio getting dropped by Timothy Bradley – Miami’s going to get the scissors. (Or C4.) And Wade’s going to be the first to get snipped. He has to be. Not just for this series. (Through the half yesterday, Wade had just five points in his last five quarters, and a minus-36 for the team’s last four quarters. Yeah. We know. Yuck. He did, for record, follow that 2-for-13 Game 3 with a 30-point shell in Game 4.) Though, if the Heat fizzle out now, to the Pacers, who, daps where they’re due, are a fun and plucky and endearing club, but hardly the presumed juggernauts you figured Miami, someone’s gotta be the Fall Guy. And that’s not going to be a certain You Know Who.
This goes back to the genesis of their problems, which, not coincidentally, sprouted the same time that the team was conceived. LeBron James and Wade, much as they might be best bros off the court, don’t make for the best marriage on it. They're totally incompatable. They both slash. They both need shots. Neither of which dabble into the metaphysical realm of star power and a healthy team hierarchy that aren't doing anybody any PR favors. Top to bottom, it just doesn’t work.
Funny thing, it did when Wade missed all that time earlier in the year. Miami went 13-1 with Wade hung up (which you’ve got to figure a regularity as Wade spills deeper into thirtysomething territory), 33-19 with him. The ball moved better, and when it didn’t, it was because James was cupping it splendidly to the rim at will, not nearly as burdened and smothered and, really, bothered on the floor by the presence of Wade.
If you’re a Philly fan, that prospect has gotta widen your eyes. Because while Williams makes an easy target (for the Lakers and Mavericks and Knicks, according to Williams pre-deadline wish list) Wade would clutter the market as much as he crowded the floor in Miami. Remember: Landing Wade would require that teams put together a package for a trade (because he’s not a free agent), basically the Joey Chestnut of time consumers. What you’re hoping for? That, in the midst of the chaos, the Sixes swoop in and make the splash of all splashes. That’s what wooing Williams would be in this town: Immediate playoff viability, and instant free agent credibility. What more do you need? And, with expected losses in Spencer Hawes and Lou Williams to free agency and not expecting much of whatever super late draft pick the Sixers land, what more could you ask for?
You might think it sacrelige that we're talking this way now, with the Sixers and Celtics knotted at two games apiece in the other end of the Eastern Conference bracket. I'd say settling, what you're essentially doing if you're OK with anything short of the NBA Finals, is worse.
Maybe this thing gets crazy enough for a best-case scenario. While the Lakers would basically fall over themselves like Jim does Kara in “American Reunion” (finally saw it yesterday; as should you) for a point guard, and would yawn at the opportunity to land a 2, for obvious, No. 24-wearing reasons, Wade might prove enough of a distraction for Mark Cuban and a Mavericks roster that’s long due for a reboot, and as (un)healthy a diversion for the Knicks, who would pretty much trade Amare Stoudemire for a bowling ball a half-eaten hot dog. And, assuming David West and Roy Hibbert punctuate their early-series embarrassment of the Heat front line, who knows? May-be.
Maybe for the Sixers too. You’ve got to figure team president and GM Rod Thorn, who, if he’s not on the Mount Rushmore of NBA league execs, would be the next face chiseled if something happens – maybe Jerry Colangelo’s nose falls off? – to any of the guy’s he’s that close to. And you’d have to figure him capable of swinging something to start the very same somethings that owner Josh Harris and CEO Adam Aron and the rest of these new Sixer architects have been talking since taking over. That wouldn’t be Dwyane Wade – Philly wouldn’t have enough for a trade, even if Andre Iguodala was part of the package, which neither he nor Evan Turner should be. But maybe something, dare we say it, better. Maybe even Williams.
Though, with the Heat putting an exclamation point on the now-knotted Eastern Conference Semis, that’s starting to fall apart. Here’s to hoping the Heat do instead, so that the Sixers have a better shot – just a shot; but still a shot – at something that would prove pretty freaking