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Why Sammy Can't Play

Not that he can't play at all, not that he doesn't do some things that are quite good -- all right, one thing, block shots -- but an instinctive, read-and-respond motion offense is just not the place for our Sam Dalembert.

I tried to make that point in the Sunday Inquirer as we took a stab at predicting the future under new coach Eddie Jordan, who is a motion offense kind of guy.

Beat writer Kate Fagan looked at it from another angle, from the perspective of how the backcourt will have to adjust and what kind of players are required there.

Back to Sammy, I like the guy personally. He's funny and quirky and his Haitian French is as strange as my college French, so we ask each other how we are doing a lot, say fine, and then nod a lot. We boys.

On the court, however, it has always been obvious that just as English is a second language, basketball is a second sport. He's a soccer player -- heck of a target striker, probably -- who was pushed into the game because he just kept growing. It is game he has learned but it is not at the core of his being the way basketball is for kids who have played since they were old enough to get the ball to the rim. Pickup hoops, playground hoops... it's all about screens and motion and cuts to the basket. It's elemental basketball. Sammy didn't get that, and for what he did get he's done well.

But....the Sixers have to move on. The question is how. Dalembert has two more years left at a hefty salary and he looks untradable. We also know that he isn't going to play much, particularly if Elton Brand is healthy and Jason Smith comes back able to play. We also also know that Dalembert gets sulky and could become a problem. He asked for a trade last year when it became apparent he was going to play 25 minutes and not 33 per game. What will he do when it's more like 10?

Easy for me to say, but I think the Sixers have to pay a team to take him away. I don't know what it would cost, maybe half the salary, but he's 6-foot-11 and the goal is still 10 feet off the ground. Someone must want him at some price.

Having him around would not only be a problem for Jordan, but it will make the fresh start seem a little stale. Better to move on now. Comprendre?