While the New York Knicks maneuvered to land Tyson Chandler, and the Los Angeles Clippers finagled a deal to land Chris Paul and team him with Blake Griffin, the 76ers - drum roll, please - re-signed Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes.

The Sixers have chosen to stand pat, bringing back 12 players from a playoff team that improved by 14 wins over the previous season. In a city that has seen the football and baseball teams dominate free agency in recent seasons - with mixed and varying results - the Sixers' philosophy under president Rod Thorn and coach Doug Collins is to maximize the in-house talent and see where it leads.

"Our philosophy is we want to win as many games as we possibly can. We think we've got a very good team that has a chance to do some things," Thorn said.

With the eighth-highest payroll in the league ($69.3 million) and $44 million committed to Andre Iguodala over the next three seasons and $35 million to Elton Brand, the Sixers are over the salary cap and up against the luxury tax, predicaments that put them out of the running in terms of signing and trading for players.

"You can't get a star just because you want one," Thorn said. "With us, we had no chance to get Dwight Howard. No. 1, even if we could make a trade with Orlando, they were going to take all our good players, so he wouldn't want to play here. You have to be in a position where you've got enough players where you can make that one trade."

Lacking a superstar, the Sixers are going to rely on their depth to win games. Last season they won 41 games and were seeded seventh in the conference. Fifth seed Atlanta won 44, and sixth-seeded New York won 42. The Sixers may have leaped both of those teams in the standings had it not been for key reserve guard Lou Williams missing the last five games - the Sixers dropped four of them - with a hamstring injury.

The only other way to improve the Sixers is through the draft, and that requires the team to be bad, like they were two seasons ago when they won just 27 games.

It also requires luck.

In the final three championship seasons of the Michael Jordan Bulls, Chicago won 72, 69, and 62 games for an average winning percentage of .825.

After that, the Bulls crashed. Year after year following Jordan's departure they had millions of dollars in cap space but could not attract a superstar (Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill spurned them) to play there.

They won 45 games the next three seasons and missed the playoffs for six straight seasons. And while they have made the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons, before their league-best 62 wins in 2010-11, the most they'd won was 49 games.

Reigning MVP Derrick Rose has changed the course of the franchise. However, the Bulls lucked out in drafting him in 2008.

Had the draft lottery held to form, the Bulls would have selected ninth that year. With just a 1.7 percent change of doing so, the Bulls moved into the top spot.

When Hall of Fame center David Robinson suffered a broken foot during the 1996-97 season and appeared in just nine games, the San Antonio Spurs, winners of 59 games the season before, won 20 that season and won the draft rights to Tim Duncan, arguably the greatest power forward ever.

These are unlikely scenarios for the Sixers.

"We are headed in the right direction," Thorn said. "If everything works out for us and we take another step, the plan is working. We want our team to get better and better. That's the direction we're headed in."

Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com or @deepsixer3 on Twitter.