In retrospect, Andre Miller was all but gone the day last season ended.
Given the current stance of 76ers president/general manager Ed Stefanski, that would appear to be the case.
Miller, an unrestricted free agent, signed a 3-year contract Friday with the Portland Trail Blazers that could be worth as much as $21 million. By all accounts, the first 2 years are guaranteed at about $14 million, with the Blazers holding an option on the third year.
This was the reality: The Sixers were not offering more than 1 year at the NBA midlevel exception of roughly $5.8 million. Miller and agent Andy Miller were insisting on significantly more money and 3 years. Neither side showed any inclination to change.
The Blazers' reality: They are coming off a 54-victory season and feel Miller's experience and point-guard skills could help their young players improve and ultimately go deeper in the playoffs.
The Sixers' reality: Miller could have meant a handful of additional victories in the coming season, but his presence would have further delayed the development of Lou Williams, starting his fifth season, and first-round draft choice Jrue Holiday.
We'll never know how the Sixers would have reacted if Miller had accepted their offer.
"We wish Andre the best," Stefanski said after a busy week in which he watched Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young practice in the U.S. National Team minicamp in Las Vegas, then jetted back in time for Saturday's annual Beach Bash in Avalon. "We've moved on. The opportunity is there now for Lou to excel, and we think he will. He's been grooming himself for this for 4 years. At the same time, we'll see what the learning curve is for Holiday."
With Williams, Holiday and Willie Green the only full-fledged guards on the roster, Stefanski is continuing his search for a veteran. A source familiar with the situation confirmed some early contact concerning Atlanta Hawks unrestricted free agent Ronald "Flip" Murray (a Philadelphia native who played at Strawberry Mansion High), but said that Murray's agent is looking for more than a 1-year commitment.
The Sixers don't appear to be in the running for Golden State Warriors restricted free agent C.J. Watson. The source clarified that, because of Watson's restricted status, a team must offer at least 2 years, but that the second year can be nonguaranteed. The Sixers are said to have offered a guarantee of $2.3 million, but reports indicate that the Warriors may have offered as much as 3 years and $4.5 million.
With both the salary cap and the luxury-tax trigger point going down this season and projected to drop even more for 2010-11, the Sixers are reluctant to tie up too much money too soon.
That's why they are mulling a list of possibilities including Royal Ivey, Jason Hart, Carlos Arroyo, Bobby Jackson, Juan Dixon, Tyronn Lue, Brevin Knight and Luther Head. Ivey spent last season with the Sixers, then declined his second-year player option, apparently in the hopes of adding years to a deal.
Thaddeus Young shot 6-for-9 from the floor and scored 12 points in 19 minutes, while Andre Iguodala had seven points in 19 minutes as Blue turned back White, 100-81, in the U.S. National Team minicamp showcase game Saturday night in Las Vegas. Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant led Blue with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 23 minutes. The Memphis Grizzlies' Rudy Gay had 27 points on 11-for-12 shooting in 27 minutes, the Portland Trail Blazers' Greg Oden had 10 rebounds and Utah's Ronnie Brewer added six steals for White. "In the two practices I saw, Andre was very, very good, partly because he was one of the older guys and became kind of a leader," Ed Stefanski said. "He made things happen, defended real well and looked like he was in the right place. I think he felt he belonged there. Thaddeus was finding his way, but was under control and was taking advantage of the opportunity." *
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