PHILADELPHIA — The 76ers showed off their spiffy new logo, a design that was really just a return to the old-school brand from some of their glory years.
The cosmetic changes are always easier to fix. Finding a way to recapture those days on the court, when All-Star players and winning records went together in Philadelphia like cheese and steak, has proved a more formidable task for the Sixers.
They've made the playoffs the last two years under two different coaches but were not a serious threat to win a series either time. Not good enough to advance, not bad enough to earn a lottery pick, the Sixers are again stuck in the middle of Thursday's NBA draft with the 17th overall pick — hardly a spot to find an impact player.
Team president Ed Stefanski hasn't played dodgeball when peppered with questions about Philadelphia's draft strategy. They need a guard, preferably a solid 3-point shooter or one who can quickly learn coach Eddie Jordan's Princeton offense.
"We are looking still for a perimeter player," Stefanski said. "We're looking for the best guard available."
Andre Miller, 33, is a restricted free agent and there are no guarantees the starting point guard will return next season. Miller's agent and Stefanski have both said they're hopeful of working out a new deal, but teams can't begin negotiating with free agents until July 1. Watch Miller move on, and the Sixers could be left without any other real point guard.
The Sixers, though, have ranked last in the NBA each of the last two years in 3-point shooting and desperately need someone who can hit from long range. They took a short-term step toward solving that problem by trading for 3-point specialist Jason Kapono, but would love a young, athletic prospect who could become their 3-point specialist for years.
Jordan, hired last month, says he has the name of his draft choice written on a piece of paper. He declined to reveal the name, but said his input is given to the Sixers front office.
"When they ask me, I give them my opinion," Jordan said. "I don't come barging in, saying, 'This is what we need to have.' Certainly, I'm in the loop."
There are three draft prospects that appear to fit the profile the Sixers have targeted for Thursday night:
— Eric Maynor. The 6-foot-3 guard out of Virginia Commonwealth averaged 22.4 points last season. He made a national name for himself in the 2007 NCAA tournament when he nailed a 15-foot jumper in the final seconds to eliminate Duke in the first round.
— Ty Lawson. The 6-foot guard out of North Carolina was a leader and a true point guard for the Tar Heels. He can push the ball in transition (the Sixers led the NBA last season in points in transition) and averaged 16.6 points and 6.6 assists.
— Wayne Ellington. Another Tar Heel, the 6-5, 202-pound Ellington was the most outstanding player of the Final Four and would be a nice fit in the uptempo game. Like Lawson, he'd need to improve his defense to be more of a contributor.
The Sixers have done a decent job drafting over the past few years. Sam Dalembert, Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young, and Mareese Speights are all Sixers picks. Jason Smith and Willie Green were acquired on draft night deals.
While the Sixers would love to move the erratic Dalembert, the big center with the bigger salary will be difficult to trade. Stefanski said players like Young and Speights are virtually untouchable, especially in trades that would move them up only a few spots in what is considered a weak draft.
"Unless the demands get less going up, I don't see us making a move," Stefanski said.
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