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By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The one thing most Sixers fans are looking for, is a direction. Up, down, whatever … we just want to know where the team is going. If you’re interested enough in the team to read this, you’re quite aware of what I mean by that.

Get rid of the established players with big salaries (Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand), go young and let the kids grow while maybe getting another lottery pick or two out of the deal. Or make moves to plug holes, and maybe get a little better to try to become the cream of the second level crop in the NBA. Most fans sit on one side of this fence or the other, but we can all agree that we want the team to be on a side.

In short, it’s “get young and tank,” or “let’s make the most of this group right now.”

With the Spencer Hawes signing, the Sixers sure look like they’re going to sit right on the top of that fence.

Admittedly, I don’t like Spencer Hawes the basketball player at all. He’s a bad defender, gets only the rebounds you get when you happen to be seven feet tall, spends most of his time outside of the paint, and has appeared to be overwhelmed and intimidated in the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.

The contract is far from a disaster in and of itself.   At a reported $13.5 million for two years, it doesn’t put the team in a particularly bad financial position. If you’re seven feet tall and you can play basketball even a little, you’re going to make a nice wage in the NBA. Remember Omer Asik? He’s going to sign a three-year deal worth about $25 million. Asik does some nice things on defense, but the contract speaks for itself in terms of big men in pro basketball. Also, at two years, the contract becomes an expiring next year, and probably wouldn’t be that difficult to move.

The problem is that it appears to be a signal that the organization believes that this group of players, as currently constructed, are worth keeping together. Neither side of the fence. Stay the course.

Although Spencer Hawes is young, this is not the sign of a youth movement. If Hawes is there, it means less time on the court for Lavoy Allen, Nic Vucevic and Arnett Moultrie.

This is also not a move to make the Sixers better by improving the frontcourt. If the younger players were kept off the court because of a trade for someone like Pau Gasol or Al Jefferson, that’s at least a direction. It’s not my preference, but it’s something.

A Twitter follower asked me what was a better alternative. Well there are 29 teams who seem satisfied with an alternative to Spencer Hawes.

This is … nothing. The Hawes move along with the fact that the team still hasn’t hired a new general manager is … nothing.

I often preach patience with excitable Sixers fans. I tell them the off-season is long, and we’ve got no idea what the team’s actual plans are. There is still the possibility of a trade or a signing to allow the Sixers to turn in one of the two preferred directions. But if this is the case, we haven’t seen a turn signal, rather just blinking hazard lights.

As Derek Bodner of Liberty Ballers points out, if this prevents the team from overpaying a player like Kris Humprhies, I guess that’s a plus. But when the plus is that they won’t do something worse, you’re reaching. Signing Spencer Hawes is treading water.

When you sit on top of the fence, it seems as if you’re higher than everyone else. But keeping balance is very difficult, and the fall is very painful.

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