Four games out of the final playoff spot in the East, and the Philadelphia 76ers could be in the market for some changes.
Sixers team management may abandon the rebuilding project they started in 2010 when they picked guard Evan Turner No. 2 overall. According to ESPN, Philadelphia is trying to gauge Turner’s value just before the Feb. 21 trade deadline. No teams have been mentioned as potential trade partners.
A key injury may be the turning point of the Sixers. Philadelphia learned earlier this week that veteran shooting guard Jason Richardson will miss the rest of the season, possibly spilling into next year, requiring knee surgery to repair cartilage damage.
With Richardson on the perimeter, Turner could use more of his post moves as a small forward, and create mismatches against bigger, slower defenders.
Head coach Doug Collins has inserted guard Nick Young as Richardson’s replacement, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Turner has not adjusted well to the change, averaging 5.5 points over the last four games.
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Coming out of Ohio State, scouts couldn’t decide if Turner would have an immediate impact at the next level, or if he would need time to develop to the increased speed and size in the NBA.
Now in his third season, Turner has hit career-highs across the board with 13.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. The Sixers may decide to sell Turner high, and the soaring improvement of newly dubbed All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, may make Turner even more expendable.
One factor Philadelphia must consider is whether to give up on such a young player, especially when center Andrew Bynum’s future with the club is so uncertain. Bynum will be a free agent at the end of this season, and even though he has yet to play a game in a Philadelphia uniform, his decision on whether or not to re-sign figures into the Sixers long-term plans.
Philadelphia has yet to see Turner play with a traditional big man like Bynum, which could make them hesitate on the trade until Bynum returns. There were several reports pegging the 25-year-old’s return just before the All-Star break, but injections in his aching knees did not have the desired effect Philadelphia had hoped for.
Despite his injury history, Bynum will be one of the most sought after free agents in the NBA, with a serious lack of skilled big men on the market. Earlier this week, the Houston Rockets were reportedly interested in Bynum as a back-up plan should they fail to coax Dwight Howard away from the Los Angeles Lakers.