Philly GM says Dalembert will remain a Sixer

Updated: July 18, 2005, 6:06 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider

It looks like negotiations between the Philadelphia 76ers and restricted free agent Samuel Dalembert took a turn for the worse on Monday.

Samuel Dalembert
Philadelphia 76ers
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The two sides have been negotiating for three weeks but have been unable to come to terms on a new contract. Over the course of the last week, there has been a great level of frustration on both sides.

On Monday, Dalembert's agent, Marc Cornstein, said Dalembert had scheduled a visit in Atlanta with the Hawks on Monday, July 25.

In an e-mail to Insider, Sixers general manager Billy King said the Sixers are still determined to match any offer for Dalembert.

"Sam will be in Philly whether it is at our number or a number that someone else sets," King wrote. "HE WILL BE IN PHILADELPHIA ONE WAY OR ANOTHER."

When asked about King's stance, Cornstein acted surprised.

"We're getting mixed messages," Cornstein said. "They've drawn a line in the sand with Sammy's contract with what they're willing to pay. Yet he's telling you they'll match any offer. There is a huge gap between Philadelphia's offer and what other teams under the salary cap can offer."

The Hawks are roughly $23 million under the cap -- enough money to make a run at two top-tier free agents. The Hawks are believed to have earmarked roughly half that amount for free agent Joe Johnson. They want to add a center with the rest of it. Restricted free agent Eddy Curry visited the Hawks last week, but left Atlanta without a contract offer.

If the Hawks do sign Dalembert to an offer sheet (when the player signing moratorium ends), the Sixers would have seven days to match the offer.

Of the three top free agent big men on the market -- Curry and Tyson Chandler are the other two -- Dalembert has the most upside. He has great range and is athletic, with great shot blocking instincts. He's shown he can be a volume rebounder and his offensive game is emerging. He was very inconsistent at times this season, but in the playoffs against the Pistons, he played the part of a franchise center, averaging 12.8 rebounds per game in the playoffs against the Pistons' tough front line.

The Sixers made a power move this offseason, firing head coach Jim O'Brien, who wasn't a Dalembert fan, and replacing him with Mo Cheeks, who is. Philly let it be known that O'Brien was fired, in part, because the Sixers are committed to Dalembert. That's been enough to discourage other teams from pursuing Dalembert.

However, Philly apparently has drawn a line in the sand millions away from a max-type offer Dalembert is seeking. Dalembert, who's had a rocky four years, with four different coaches in just the last two years, hasn't been impressed.

Chad Ford

Senior Writer, NBA Insider