Sixers send loud message

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

The Philadelphia 76ers turned toward the sea and noticed the Atlantic is wide open.

The division, not the ocean.

Then again, putting Allen Iverson and Chris Webber together may be akin to launching the Titanic.

But that did not deter the Sixers, who made the most noise prior to the NBA trade deadline yesterday.

CONTROVERSIAL

Did anyone check to see if they have enough lifeboats at the Wachovia Center?

Late on Wednesday the Sixers acquired the controversial Webber from the Sacramento Kings in a massive six-player deal. Joining Webber in Philly are Matt Barnes and ex-Raptor Michael Bradley. Going the other way are Kenny Thomas and a pair of ex-Raptors, Brian Skinner and Corliss Williamson.

Then yesterday, the Sixers jettisoned Glenn Robinson and his huge but expiring contract to the New Orleans Hornets for Rodney Rogers and Jamal Mashburn.

The message was clear.

The Sixers are not rebuilding.

They figure they can win the Atlantic Division this season, which probably will mean the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

And the Sixers also feel they can win at least one round. As of now it looks like the first-round opponent for the Atlantic Division winner would be one of two improving but hardly imposing teams, the Chicago Bulls or the Orlando Magic.

Iverson, Philly's kingpin, is 29 years old. He has played in one NBA final and aches to do so again. There had been reports in recent weeks that unless the Sixers showed him they were serious about trying to win, he might want to explore other horizons.

The Sixers' response: Don't get mad at us, Allen. Here you go.

As expected, the Raptors -- the fourth-place team in the Atlantic Division -- did not make a deal yesterday. They apparently still had a few irons in the fire early in the afternoon, but were not able to forge anything to their satisfaction.

"There were some deals that were close, but we couldn't quite get there," Raptors general manager Rob Babcock said. "We weren't interested in dumping salaries or a short-term fix."

Raptors veteran Jalen Rose repeatedly has said, "The most overrated thing in pro sports in the 21st century is building for the future."

Rose's point is you never can tell what is going to happen down the road with so many variables, so all you really can do is put some pieces together that you hope might be able to win now, or in the not-too-distant future.

Rebuilding has become a crapshoot in this modern age. For example, how many times has the Magic appeared to be on the right path in the past 10 years, only to have things fall apart?

The Raptors want to rebuild, but they obviously did not come across any potential deals yesterday that would have allowed them to deal Donyell Marshall or Eric Williams, or even Rose, without hampering their contractual flexibility.

And trading all your veterans for young guys and draft picks is a different type of crapshoot, anyway.

The Raptors could commit to rebuilding fully, but if Chris Bosh decides to leave two years from now, they're screwed.

Which takes us back to Rose's analysis. The Sixers clearly see things the way Rose does.

TIME IS NOW

They could have gained a lot of salary-cap room this summer by keeping Robinson. But they decided to bank on the present rather than the future, Webber's wonky knee and questionable attitude notwithstanding.

Maybe Webber and Iverson can form some sort of outlaw bond.

But if you see Leonardo DiCaprio or Kate Winslet at a Sixers game any time soon, head for high ground.


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