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Dec 15 2013

Happy Trade Day

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Crank up your ESPN trade machines and hang up your transaction stockings, kids, because it’s December 15th – marked on the NBA calendar for weeks as “Trade Day.”

A league-wide rule specifies that players who signed new contracts during free agency (up to Sept. 15) can’t be included in trades until three months after their contract is signed, or Dec. 15; whichever date comes later.

As ESPN’s Marc Stein notes, 114 players become eligible for trades today, none of whom are Sixers1.

The Sixers, you might have heard, are already in the rumor mill this week. USA TODAY’s Sam Amick is reporting that rival GMs believe that the Rockets have a deal in place for Omer Asik, and that his suitor may be the Sixers. (The semantics here are key; the report says only what rival GMs believe is happening). If Philly was to be the landing spot for the elite rim protector, Thad or Spence might be headed to Houston.

This deal doesn’t quote add up in the short-term or the long-term, given Asik’s expected win production and his cap-friendly (though not salary-friendly)2 contract expiring in 2015. Not to mention, he doesn’t seem like an ideal fit next to Nerlens Noel3. Then again, Hinkie knows best. (And I have a hard time believing that rival executives know what he’s planning, considering all the trades Hinkie’s made so far haven’t leaked until they were agreed upon).

Expect rumors to ramp up between today and Thursday. If a player is acquired in that window, they are then eligible to be repackaged in another trade before deadline day on Feb. 20.

1.This serves as a reminder that the Sixers made no concrete free agency signings this past summer. All of their players either had contracts in place, arrived via trade, were drafted in June, signed training camp deals in September and made the team, or signed NBA deals post-camp. The Sixers’ five formal offseason signees are eligible for trades at disseminated dates: Hollis Thompson (Dec. 24), Daniel Orton (Jan. 15), Brandon Davis (Jan. 27), Lorenzo Brown (Feb. 20 – deadline day), Elliot Williams (Feb. 20 – deadline day).

2. Asik is due about $15 million next season but his contract only carries an $8 million cap hit.

3. That is, unless the Sixers don’t believe that Noel is strong enough to hold his own against NBA centers.

  • robbybonfire23

    I have a great deal of trepidation, as regards Nerlens Noel becoming an “impact” player in the NBA, even if he rehabs 100 % from his injury. This is because, 1. He is not an offensive-scoring force, by any means; and, 2. He ranked 30th in national NCAA rebounding statistics, which is a much more critically important category than the blocked shots category in which he ranked first.

    To sabotage this entire season to obtain a man with one specialized skill is typically 76ers organizational delusion. This organization is light years from turning the corner and getting back into contention. To place one’s faith in the future of this team on the shoulders of Nerlens Noel is myopic folly, at best.

    • JulianW

      Jeez Robby, tell us how you really feel.

  • robbybonfire23

    What is wrong with Asik? He has not dressed for the last five games Houston has played. If Houston wanted to trade him they would “showcase” him. This looks like another “abyss” acquisition, if the 76ers go this route. For this you give up Hawes? Does this team not want to win another game, this season? And Wiggins is off to a slow start in Kansas, this season, for what that is not worth.

  • robbybonfire23

    Great question, Julian.

    Giving it some thought, I have concluded that the best way to describe Nerlens Noel is “Bill Russell without the rebounds.” Bill Russell, of course, was Wilt Chamberlain without the scoring. Wilt shot a career 54% from the floor and averaged 30 points per game. Russell shot a career 44% from the floor and averaged 15 points per game. BUT, Russell was on a par with Wilt as a rebounder, extraordinaire.

    So that, with Noel, you get Russell’s modest scoring and outstanding shot-blocking, without the dominant rebounding totals. Hey, Charles Barkley, Dr. J., Moses, etc., this guy is not. So that we acquired Noel’s “C” average, all-around ability, while dumping Holiday’s solid production and team leadership. Not sold on the new management team, either, for taking a hit right out of the box like that.

    Where is the silver lining to the dark cloud hovering over this franchise? I will tell you where it is, potentially. It is directly connected with MCW learning how to shoot a basketball successfully, about 10 points higher shooting percentage than what he is giving us now, when he is healthy. That is asking a lot.

    • Jeremy Rielly

      you forget the extra pick from the Pelicans next draft in the Noel trade. In the NBA you need stars to win. The Sixers were on pace to keep being mediocre just like they have been for the last several years. Unless you can sign free agents, which Philly has not been able to, the only way to become very good is finishing towards the bottom in hopes of landing a great player. Yes, it will take a few years, but I will take my chances trying to become the next OKC, hitting on early draft picks, over the 8th seed in the East every year. Noel and MCW are very young and will continue to progress. MCW will continue to work on his shot. I’m a diehard Syracuse fan. His progression in his shot this year is way ahead of where it was at Syracuse, so I have hopes it will continue. He’s also more of a play maker than a pure scorer anyway. With this team being so bad, he has to score more. If they draft a top talent he may not have to score as much down the road. And Wiggins isn’t the only guy in the draft. Jabari Parker, among others, has looked very good.

  • robbybonfire23

    Good point re the extra pick, but just holding onto Holiday would have been quite alright. This season should count for something besides Holiday being gone, Noel rehabbing from injury, and the “extra pick” (top-5 protected, too), not having shown up, as yet. Must be a better way than it being “O.K.” to be the worst franchise and the worst team in professional basketball, as a modus operandi.

    Some of us are still trying to get over the Iguo and Vucevik heist, for zero return. It never ends with this snake-bitten franchise.

    • JulianW

      It seems like you are perfectly content with being a 6-8 seed every year in the Eastern Conference. I may be wrong, but I’d rather compete for championships than sneak into the playoffs every year. They were not going to seriously contend for a championship with Jrue as their best player, not even with Iguodala. You need stars to win in the NBA, and none of those guys you’ve listed can be the alpha dog on a championship team. The only way to get that alpha dog, since the Sixers can’t sign one in free agency, is to draft him. The only way to get that draft pick is to suck it up and be bad for a year. Do I like watching our team lose games? No, of course not. But I also want Parker/Wiggins/Randle/Smart/Exum leading the team in the future, and I know this is the only way to get them. Try to understand that this is the way things need to be in order to compete in the future.

      And you can’t blame the Iguodala or Vucevic trades on the current ownership. Those were done by the previous regime.

  • robbybonfire23

    The “current regime” is not doing any better than the previous regime, judging from early returns, which is all we have to go by, to date. And we who are fans of this debacle, laughing stock franchise have had to deal with a succession of botched regimes, since the 80′s, for which I, for one, do not give the overall franchise a pass.

    • JulianW

      The “current regime” is 25 games into the season, a season which I’ve already explained that they are trying for a franchise-changing player. It’s a little too early to say the sky is falling, chief. Let me guess, you’re the guy who calls into WIP after each Eagles loss saying the entire organization needs to be fired? You need to tear it down to eventually build it back up, or you end up with a middle of the pack NBA team that competes for a 7-seed playoff spot. If you want that then I suggest you move to Dallas. The Sixers are trying to build a championship team, not a playoff also-ran.

  • robbybonfire23

    First of all, you don’t know me, who I am, where I am, or what my background is, and you are entitled to “think” I call into sports talk shows on a regular basis, if you want to, but it has been three years since I have made such a call, not that it is your concern.

    I have also been called a “troll” at various sites, because of my focus on constructive criticism, over going the mindless “fanatic” route. We all have an opinion, which we are entitled to, and which is just that – OPINION, so that it is neither right nor wrong, yours being valid for you and mine being valid for me. Just don’t purport to express here in public who I am, based upon your subjective “feelings” and complete lack of any knowledge of my background and my observational experience which leads me to the conclusions I draw.

    You are entitled to your opinion, whether I agree with it or not, but I am not going to put some kind of psychic evaluation on your frame of reference. You live with it, I don’t have to.

    • JulianW

      I don’t know if I’d call it “constructive” criticism when you call the new GM a botched regime 26 games into the season. In order to be constructive you have to, you know, “construct” something. And your barrage of negative hyperbole does anything but construct something.

      You don’t seem to understand what ownership and the GM are trying to build right now with this team, eschewing an eye for the future in favor of a “we must win now!” attitude. They have to lose now in order to be better positioned to draft a franchise changing player. It’s really that simple.

      Just as you are entitled to spout off your opinion, I am entitled to disagree with you and say you don’t understand the organization’s focus right now. Furthermore since you seem to lack anything other than a consistent focus on negativity, I think I’m justified in calling you a doom and gloom shortsighted troll here.

  • robbybonfire23

    Challenging as it may be, let’s agree upon something: we are both fans of this team and want to see it win. And please keep your “troll” comments under control. I attended Lower Merion H.S. and lived on So. Wyoming Avenue in Ardmore long before your parents even met, and know more first-hand disappointment and heartache that comes with the loyal fandom of being a Philadelphia sports fan, over the decades, than you can possibly imagine.

    Something important to understand here, as regards what this team is doing right now, i.e., losing today so that it can win tomorrow. And of course, we can agree that being the worst team in the NBA today, is well worth winning one or more championships, over the next three-seven years

    I am fine with that approach, in theory. Where this new regime has lost me, at least temporarily, is with its building the foundation for that sterling goal and accomplishment, if it gets there, upon a player whom I see as being limited where his all-around arsenal is concerned. Being young is great. Being tall and rangy in the middle – no one can argue with that. And being a shot-blocker for the ages is a great departure point.

    However, Noel’s being merely an above-average defensive rebounder (and defensive rebounds correlate much more strongly with winning than do offensive rebounds, so that I always break down the rebounding category into those two sub-categories); and his being a mediocre offensive scoring threat, at best, are both red flags to me, which lead me to conclude that while the long-term goal of attaining the level of excellence is commendable, the team’s approach to attaining that goal, including the willingness to sacrifice Holiday and the entire 2013-2014 season, will turn out to be more “pie-in-the-sky” fantasy, than pulling the trigger on acquiring the man who will lead this team to the promised land will come home to roost.

    And agreeing to a top-five protected draft choice for New Orleans mitigates any possibly perceived blockbuster gain in the deal, as well.

    So that all we can do is sit back and hope that over time, the result of all this maneuvering will prove beneficial to the team. On top of all this, Noel’s physical condition is a big question mark? What if he does not 100 per cent rehab? What if he does 100 per cent rehab, but, given his slight frame, becomes injury-prone as the result of his match-ups with a bevy of more physical and punishing NBA centers, over the years. Manute Bol lite we certainly don’t need to redux around here.

    Yes, I am truly skeptical as to the ultimate outcome of all this wheeling and dealing by the new regime. Put me down as one who will be pleasantly amazed and shocked if this marginal all-around talent who is supposed to be the centerpiece of this resurgence leads this team to the top. Especially as his deficiencies in the areas of scoring, rebounding and play-making, which represent the “big three” components of each and every basketball game, render it virtually impossible for himself and his teammates to make up the difference by excelling in the other, minor components of the game.

    • JulianW

      As someone else already alluded to, Noel will not be the cornerstone of our favorite basketball team’s future. He is limited offensively right now, absolutely. However the Sixers will not ask him to be the first option on offense. That is what our first round pick will be for! That guy, be it Parker or Wiggins or Randle or Smart or Exum, will be our franchise cornerstone. He will be option #1 on offense, with MCW likely being option #2, a FA being #3, and Noel can get some points inside here and there.

      The role Noel will play on the team is going to be rim protector. He’s going to be the guy inside that serves as a deterrent to all the driving and slashing guards that are popular in the NBA right now. His elite skill is shot blocking, and that’s what they’ll ask him to do.

      You need a rim protector to win right now in the NBA. The Lakers had one in Shaq with their championship teams, the Pistons had one in Ben Wallace, the Celtics had one in Kendrick Perkins, even the Pacers have one now in Roy Hibbert. The Heat don’t have one but manage to win anyway because LeBron is a transcendent talent. None of those rim protectors I listed (apart from Shaq) were option #1 or even #2 on offense. Wallace and Perkins and Hibbert contribute very little offensively. But their value to their championship teams can be seen when they left those teams. Wallace the Pistons and they were never the same, Perkins being traded was the first step in the decline of the Celtics.

      My point here is that I believe you are mistake in assuming that Noel will be the franchise cornerstone. He will be a defensive specialist that will protect the rim on our (hopefully) future championship teams. Offense will be given over to MCW, 2014 first round pick, and any FA we manage to sign. Take heart Robby! A plan is in place for the first time since Larry Brown helped build a team around Allen Iverson!

  • fitz164

    robby I feel as if your not even giving noel a chance and he hasn’t even stepped onto the court yet. none of us were estatic at first that we traded jrue for another guy with a knee injury but jrue wasn’t going to take us anywhere and with the amount of franchise players in the upcoming draft if we get one of them and with the way MCW has played so far this year when he has played we don’t need noel to be like wilt which btw the dominating first option on offense C doesn’t exist in the nba anymore so all we need from noel is a guy that protects the rim, rebounds, and has a couple offensive moves which brown is working with him on as we speak

  • robbybonfire23

    Interesting observation, re the reduced offensive impact of centers in the NBA. While true, to some extent, I see this current void as ~opportunity~ for enterprising teams. That is, before you almost HAD to have a physical, high-scoring D to be competitive, Bill Russell being the notable exception, although he still was a fair-to-good scorer, with outstanding coaching and a brilliant surrounding cast of players.

    So that the teams which still have the classic scoring and rebounding center, today, have a much bigger edge than did teams in the old days. Noel’s specialized shot-blocking skill, I fear, will earn him the disparaging “role player” tag, if he does not become a superstar. Plus, as he adds muscle and bulk, his range and versatility will be negatively impacted.

    We can agree, Noel is going to become one the most interesting “works in progress” in the history of Philadelphia professional basketball, and perhaps even the NBA, so much is riding on the result of his being “reinvented.” I remain skeptical as regards his upside potential, but hey, who among us is always right about these matters?

    • JulianW

      You’re well within your rights to be skeptical here, and you are correct in saying that Noel is a work in progress right now. However I think that if he puts on some weight and works on his rebounding he can be a valuable piece on a contending team. Improved rebounding combined with his already elite shot blocking will take that “role player” tag and turn it into “Defensive role player” which is incredibly valuable. And honestly we need a compliment of role players on a team combined with stars, which we appear to have one already in MCW and could very well draft another in a few months.

      I just don’t think that Noel needs to develop a substantial offensive game to be considered a good draft pick or a good player for this team. He doesn’t even have to be re-invented, he just needs to improve his rebounds a bit. He pulled down 9.5 RPG in college, if he can up that to 10-11 in the pros (not outside the realm of possibility) I think that’s acceptable. Combine that with only 10 PPG (also entirely possible) we’ll have ourselves a top 5 center in the league considering the already elite shot blocking.

      He doesn’t need to be re-invented so much as he needs to add some healthy weight. Remember that the kid is only 19, and still has a lot of growing to do.

  • robbybonfire23

    I really don’t mean to sound negative to an extreme, here, BUT, MCW is a weak-shooting guard, who, we can agree, is All-World, where his floor game is concerned. So that the team has TWO major projects – MCW’s offense, and everything from Noel that is not already in place, which is one hell of a lot. And Noel ranked 30th in the NCAA last season in rebounding. That does not translate to NBA dominance in that category, by a long shot.

    I like players who are all-around talents, I do not like players who have pronounced strengths and weaknesses, which is the type of player the 76ers are accumulating, for some reason. What the 76ers need to learn is that you cannot TEACH basic ability. Basic ability, in place, still needs to be refined, but it is next to impossible to teach players in any sport basic skills they do not possess and have not demonstrated an aptitude for learning, from childhood.

    You cannot “teach” a .250 hitter in baseball to win the batting title. You cannot “teach” a slow-skating hockey player to skate faster; you cannot “teach” a weak-armed QB in football to consistently hit DeSean 50 yards downfield with dead-on passes. This business of attempting to “teach” athletes skills they do not innately posses is doomed to inglorious failure as the outcome of these painfully extended, “trials.”

    • JulianW

      I know it’s a surprise here, but I disagree with your assertion that it’s impossible to teach athletes skills. Lebron James raised his FG% from his earlier seasons from 47% to almost 60% this year. His 3P% was raised from 35% to 41%. You’re saying it’s impossible to teach basic skills. Well shooting the ball better is about as basic as it gets, and Lebron is just one example of athletes showing they can continue to learn and get better at something as their career progresses.

      So yes, while MCW may not be a lights out shooter now, I think you’re wrong in definitively stating that he can never be. If we take that athletes can improve their shooting accuracy, why can’t we also state that they can improve their rebounding? Athletes had to learn these skills some time in their lives. A .300 hitter did not come out of the womb having the skills to hit .300, he learned it somewhere while playing baseball. So give me some proof that an athlete cannot pick up a skill as his career goes.

      In fact, I’ll do you one better. No one can deny that Dennis Rodman was an elite rebounder when he played in the NBA. But did he come out of college with this elite skill? It might surprise you to see that his first four years in the NBA he averaged less than 9.5 RPG, which is where Noel’s stats put him at last year in college. It was not until he was 30 years old that he exploded as a dominant rebounder. You’re going to tell me that it is impossible for an athlete to learn a skill, then how did Rodman become the elite rebounder he was for much of his career?

      Nerlens Noel has height, you’d be accurate in saying you can’t teach that. Rebounding comes down to being in the right position and using your body to block out or jump over others. Position can be learned, weight can be put on, and he doesn’t have to jump very high to be taller than everyone else. I’m not saying he will become an ace rebounder, but I am saying that it’s wrong to rule it out at this point.

  • robbybonfire23

    I could have done a better job making my point, so let me express it this way…
    You cannot teach hand-eye coordination; you cannot teach depth perception; you cannot teach peripheral vision, you cannot teach intelligence. You are born with a special gift or a lifetime burden in these areas, consistent with what nature and your genetic makeup bestow upon you.

    Also, re Lebron, he is 28 years of age, just about the physical peak for an athlete. Bill James compiled voluminous research for baseball players and determined that the career peak revolves around 27 years of age. So that you consistently see improvement in young players, right up to the peak year(s), then comes the regression. So that Lebron is not working any harder than he did five years ago, he is just now at the peak stage of his physicality, and his top career production to go with it.

    So what you are taking as “improvement” on the part of Lebron, stemming from “hard work,” is in fact the natural expansion of his physical gift, to the reaching of his maximum potential, just before the decline sets in, as it will no later than his early 30′s – understanding that with superstars the decline is much more gradual and their careers last much longer than the careers of the journeyman crowd.

    Thank you.

    • fitz164

      if you cannot teach depth perception and hand-eye coordination then it wouldn’t matter how much a person practiced they would never get better to a degree yes you can teach a person those skills. also on the LeBron part what your basically saying is that he would have been getting better and better throughout the years regardless of working hard on his game or not which just doesn’t make sense

  • robbybonfire23

    Christ man, athletes work hard all the time, it’s just that they reap the most benefit from the hard work during their peak career seasons. Will you just get off the pot, or something?

    • JulianW

      It looks like you’re making a point that I was trying to explain earlier with Noel. Remember he’s only 19 years old, and is undeniably a talented athlete (albeit probably not as much as Lebron). Just as you said Lebron’s natural talents expanded as he got older and more mature physically, so can Noel’s natural gifts expand regarding his rebounding. Right now he has the body of a teenager, let him grow into his man-sized NBA center body.

      It sounds like you’re stating that Lebron had a natural talent for shooting 3P-ers, and would have gotten better anyway because of this hidden natural talent. That’s a claim that can’t be substantiated. You can’t say that Lebron had this talent all along after he already has improved his shooting %, that’s like saying you knew it would rain after it’s already pouring outside. The only logical explanation is that through his hard work improving his game combined with some athletic talent as a base, he was able to get better in one of the basic areas of basketball.

      As far as we know, Noel is working hard on his various basketball skills during his time recovering. I still say to you that he can become an improved rebounder, whether by hard work or natural talent expansion.