While the actual trading of Samuel Dalembert to the Sacramento Kings came as no surprise to anyone, the timing of the deal was one of the more shocking Sixers developments in recent memory.  The disgruntled Dalembert has been asking for a trade for over a year now and it was well known around the League that the Kings were in hot pursuit of Big Sammy at the 2010 NBA trade deadline, but could not get a deal done.  Even though the deal has a long history, it comes as a bit of a surprise that with just one week remaining before the 2010 NBA Draft that the Sixers would ship Dalembert to Sacramento in exchange for forward Andres Nocioni and center Spencer Hawes and thus greatly alter their roster.  Typically deals of the nature would take place on Draft night or just after the NBA Draft.

Coming off of his eighth season with the Sixers, Dalembert had one of his strongest years in a Sixer uniform last season.  Dalembert put up 22 double-doubles and had the best field goal percentage of his career at 54.5 percent.  From January 5th to February 6th, Dalembert recorded 10 or more rebounds in 16 of the 17 games played during that time.  This great stretch of play is made even more impressive when you remember that the run came as his native country of Haiti was hit with a devastating earthquake which killed over 230,000 people and left the country in ruins.  Dalembert played a large role in the recovery effort and was given the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in April.

Despite his solid 2010 season and the accolades, Dalembert has never played up to the six-year, 70 million dollar contract which he signed back in 2005.  His offensive game never developed, he was prone to mental errors, year after year he committed the same bad fouls and he was out of position on defense frequently.  Additionally, his habit of showing up late to practice and shoot-arounds, sometimes without his sneakers, had grown old and certainly was not going to fly with new head coach Doug Collins.  Lastly, the fan base had grown disenchanted with Sammy a while ago as most fans felt as though Dalembert didn’t work hard enough on his game, often took nights off and overall hadn’t performed anywhere near the level expected of him after the signing of his huge deal in 2005.  Every off-season there was a buzz among the Philadelphia faithful to trade Dalembert and get out from under the ridiculous cap hit that was his contract.  Well, Philadunkia nation finally got its wish.

To Philadelphia comes six-year forward Andres Nocioni (6-7; 225) and three-year, 7-1 center Spencer Hawes.  Since joining the NBA in 2004, Nocioni has been known around the league as a tough defender, especially on the perimeter, a solid 3-point shooter, a high energy guy and a smart playmaker.  He has career averages of 11.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.  He made his rep as a prime-time playoff performer with the Bulls in the 2006 playoffs, where Nocioni averaged 22.3 points and 8.8 rebounds a game for the seventh seeded Bulls in a first-round match-up against the second seeded Miami Heat (The eventual NBA champions that year.).  It was largely because of that playoff performance that in June of 2007 Nocioni landed a 5 year contract from the Bulls worth a fat $37.5 million. 

However, in February 2009 the Bulls dealt Nocioni and Drew Gooden to the Kings for Brad Miller and John Salmons.  In Sacto, the rumor was that Nocioni quickly fell into the dog house with Kings head coach Paul Westphal and this past season averaged career lows in minutes played (19.7 per) as well as scoring (8.5 ppg.).  Earlier this month the very unhappy Nocioni told a Spanish-language media outlet that he wouldn’t return to the Kings, either because he’d probably be traded or because he would take a buy-out to escape his contract.  Nocioni is scheduled to make $6.85 million in ’10-11, $6.65 million in ’11-12 and the Sixers will own a team option at $7.5 million in the ’12-13 season.

Hawes was the 10th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft and in just three-seasons the former Washington Husky has developed into one of the better seven footers in the League.  Hawes averaged 10 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 blocks a game for the Kings last season.  His 83 blocks on the season ranked first in the NBA.  Hawes has very good basketball skills for a 21-year old 7-footer and many around the League think he has the potential to be an All-Star someday.  But as we all know potential can be a dangerous word in the NBA.  Also outside of shot blocking Hawes is just as defensively challenged as Sammy.  The hope for the Sixers is that Hawes can develop even more in order to become a more effective and more affordable option in place of Samuel Dalembert down low.  For the Sixers and Hawes this is basically a one year tryout as he will make $2.9 million this year and then has a qualifying offer of just over $4 million for 2010-11.

This deal certainly makes things a little cloudier in terms of who is going to fill the lane down low for the Sixers next season.  The most obvious option would be to go with Hawes who puts up close to the same numbers as Dalembert and has an even better knack then Dalembert to get up for a shot block.  However the Sixers still have to figure out how to effectively give playing time to Elton Brand, Marreese Speights, and Thaddeus Young down low as well.  Another idea would be to start Brand at center, Thad at power forward and then run AI9 at the 3-spot with Jrue Holiday and 2010 Draft prospect Evan Turner in the back-court.  However potential 2010-11 lineups could get even more difficult to project if the Sixers opt away from drafting Evan Turner a week from today and go with forward Derrick Favors or center DeMarcus Cousins instead.  Which according ESPN’s Chad Ford that is a very real possibility as Ford is reporting new head coach Doug Collins likes Favors better then Turner

At face value, the Sixers now are  a better, more versatile team with a young center who has tons of “upside”.  They also save about $3.15 million next season which gets them under the luxury tax.  It’s hard to make long term assumptions just yet, but in my opinion I don’t expect to see Nocioni sticking around Philadelphia too long.  Twenty-one million dollars is too much to give a player who is most likely going to be filling in off the bench for Iguodala and Turner (we hope) for the next three-seasons.  In the end, it was just time for Sammy to go.  We had seen the best he had to offer and it wasn’t enough to justify his huge contract.  Also he did not want to be a Sixer anymore and that’s exactly the type of player Collins does not want on his team.

We wish the best of luck to Dalembert who despite being criticized for the extent of his tenure here in Philadelphia always had high praise for Sixers fans.  One thing is for sure, 76ers public address announcer Matt Cord is going to miss screaming “Slammin’ Sammy Dalembert” throughout the Wachovia Center after one of Sammy’s famous alley-oop flushes.


Philadunkia Notes:

We reached out to Zach Harper editor of the highly respected Kings website and asked him what had happened to Nocioni in Sacto over the last year and a half which caused him to put up career low numbers in 2009-10?  We also asked about whether or not the rumors of a tumultuous relationship between Nocioni and Wetsphal were true?  Here’s what Zach had to say…

 “I think it was simply a matter of this team being really bad and Noc not being part of the rebuilding process. He wasn’t bad in Sacramento at all.  He was a very decent role player.  He played average defense (which is like great defense for this team) and he knocked down a good percentage of his jumpers.

But he didn’t want to be a bit player on a bad team and I think he just got tired of losing.  He wanted to make something of the second half of his career.  There wasn’t really a rift between him and the coach or management.  I just think he was tired of playing behind guys like Donté Greene and Omri Casspi when it wasn’t resulting in wins.  He just didn’t fit any more.”

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