Things went down at the deadline. Things I didn’t expect. In the morning, the Sixers used their cap space to get a 1st-round pick for taking on Javale McGee’s salary (2 years, $23.25). The pick came from Denver and was originally from OKC. It is protected 1-18 in 2015, 1-15 in 2017, and it becomes two 2nd-rounders (2018, 19) if it’s not conveyed by then. They also dealt Cenk Akyol, and got back Chu Chu Maduabum.
That wasn’t much of a surprise. But then, well, I’m still trying to make sense of it. At the 3 p.m. deadline buzzer, the Sixers got in on a three-team mega deal that sent Michael Carter-Williams to Milwaukee, Brandon Knight to Phoenix, and the Lakers top-5 protected 2015 1st-rounder (top-3 in 2016) to Philly. And then, the Sixers also dealt K.J. McDaniels to Houston for Isaiah Canaan and Denver’s 2015 2nd (or Minnesota, if the Timberwolves finish better than the Nuggets).
It’ll take a little while to sink in, but here’s a 5-on-5 with our collective thoughts:
1. The Sixers get a ___ for the Michael Carter-Williams trade.
Goldwein: B. Value-wise, this was a great return. MCW, right now, is a below average starting point guard, with a lot of potential if he could learn to shoot. In return, they got what could be a high lottery pick; I don’t see the Lakers being good any time soon.
That said, MCW was an important young player on this current shell of an NBA team. Trading one of the players that’ve been around comes with a real cost to morale. Is it worth risking that for a lotto pick? We’ll see.
Share: A-. The time to sell high on MCW, or so we thought, was last June. Getting a pick as valuable as LA’s is unheard of. Losing him hurts, but given his shooting woes, he probably was never the point guard to complement potentially multiple big men going forward.
Toporek: B+. MCW’s rookie season inflated his trade value, and Hinkie took advantage before the sell-high window slammed shut. MCW’s shooting has long been his so-called “swing skill,” and one-and-a-half seasons into his NBA career, we haven’t seen much (if any?) progress in that regard. Even if the Lakers don’t convey their pick this year, it’s hard to imagine them becoming a playoff team next season given how deep the West is. This deal could have negative draft-day repercussions, though, as it could box Hinkie into taking a PG with the Sixers’ top-five pick.
Smolen: I don’t feel comfortable giving this a grade right now. I’m 100% for doing what needs to be done to make the Sixers as good as they possibly can be in the long haul. And it is reasonable to assume that MCW may not have been a part of that future, and at this moment, the Lakers pick is a good return for the player MCW is.
BUT!!! I’m assuming the Lakers keep their pick this year and finish with around the 8th worst record next year. If in 2013, I told you I’d trade you the 8th pick in 2016 for the 11th pick in 2013, would you do it? Obviously, the current realities have changed, but I can’t shake the feeling that this feels almost like a do-over. Also, just speaking as a fan, this year has been fun. MCW was inefficient and may not be a building block, but I had fun watching him and this team play. I don’t think the rest of this season will be fun, and that has to count for something.
Stone: B+, after a lot of calming down. The game-plan has always centered around hitting a home-run, and with the Lakers’ really, really valuable pick, they’ve added at least another chance at hitting the home-run. Hinkie clearly didn’t see MCW as part of the long-term plan, and he essentially flipped him when his stock was possibly higher than it was ever going to be. You can’t complain with that. But make no mistake, this would have been an easy A if Isaiah Thomas had come along in the deal, as was initially reported.
The trade also comes with somewhat of a weird sense of relief, doesn’t it? Let’s not kid ourselves – we’ve spent the last year and a half staring at MCW’s stats from a variety of angles, attempting to convince ourselves he was something more than high-energy, abominable shooter we saw on the court every night. MCW brought a great spark to this team, but now we can sit back and enjoy him playing for a playoff team without trying to will him into a player he never truly was.
2. The Sixers get a __ for the K.J. McDaniels trade.
Goldwein: B. I suspect that Sixers management knows things about K.J. that we don’t. That could be related to his upcoming contract — he’s a restricted free agent this summer. That could also be related to his production.
I thought he was good. After all, he was a regular on SportsCenter. But in return they got a player in Canaan who was getting key minutes for a very strong Western Conference team. He’s on a team-friendly contract, and he’s arguably more productive than MCW. Also: Denver’s 2015 pick is projected to be 37th. K.J. was picked 32nd.
Share: C+. It’s likely that, despite their wide open cap sheet, they didn’t see it as worth their while to match the lofty offer sheets he could get this summer. Now, I’m sure the Sixers know a whole lot more about him and his impending free agency than we do, but high-flying, versatile 3-and-D players don’t get plucked in the second round all too often. I’m convinced there could be more to it behind the scenes, but on the surface, it’s an underwhelming move.
Toporek: B-. You have to view this deal in conjunction with the MCW trade. With MCW gone, the Sixers didn’t have a single healthy point guard on the roster. (Although they immediately re-signed Tim Frazier to a second 10-day contract after the deadline dust settled, per Marc Spears.) Canaan, who’s signed to a team-friendly deal through 2015-16, addresses that concern. Maybe he pans out and winds up being a Tony Wroten-esque steal, maybe not. Either way, the Sixers needed a PG to replace MCW, and grabbing a young prospect with upside gets a thumbs up. I can’t help but feel another contender would have shelled out more for K.J., though. A high second-round pick and Canaan feels like a light return for him, even after factoring in his impending date with restricted free agency.
Smolen: B-. I have hope that Canaan will be able to do something positive, and he kind of has to now that he is the de facto starting point guard. But frankly, this feels a little bit like Hinkie got beat at his own game. K.J. powerplayed his way into a one-year deal, and, now that he’s shown he has a modicum of promise, Hinkie has sold him. I don’t have faith in K.J. becoming a star. So what bothers me about this is what bothers me about the rest of the day: It’s not the return, but the idea that the future remains the future. I’m in this for the long haul, but I admit it’s hard for me to stomach further delays.
Stone: F… is what was on the mind of every fan when the trade was initially announced, as a highlight reel of KJ dunks flashed before our eyes like a dying vision. But again, with time, I think this is another B+ trade. Deflate MCW’s stats and adjust Canaan’s stats to starter minutes and honestly, the discrepancy between the two players doesn’t seem THAT wide. Then factor in that Canaan is probably a better shooter, is getting paid peanuts for the next two years, and was at least getting some minutes on a Western playoff contender, and you could almost delude yourself into believing the Sixers upgraded their guard position (they didn’t).
No one knows what Canaan is yet, but truthfully, no one knows what McDaniels is yet either. He’s a bigger name because he’s flashier, but that flashiness was going to cost Hinkie millions when McDaniels hit restricted free agency. Honestly, this is probably just Hinkie’s revenge for KJ having the audacity to reject his four-year rookie deal. The Sixers’ motto is to trust the system – not to fuck with it.
3. The Sixers get a __ for the Javale McGee trade.
Goldwein: B+. This wasn’t a steal; they have to pay McGee $12 million next season. But compared to what other picks are going for — the Lakers got Houston’s pick for taking on Lin’s $15M deal — this top-18 protected pick (which could be 19th if OKC goes on a late-season run) seems like solid value.
Share: A-. Paying out the remainder of his contract, whether it be because they keep him around, or via a buyout or the stretch provision, will not be fun. But first-round picks are basically invaluable, and if it comes at this price, so be it.
Toporek: A-. I’m not in love with having to pay JaVale McGee $12 million next season. If he was on an expiring contract, this would be an A+++. Still, the Sixers were never going to make a serious push toward title contention next season, so it’s not as though this prevents them from signing a LaMarcus Aldridge or Marc Gasol in free agency this summer. They weren’t ever getting those guys to begin with. Adding another first-round pick to the arsenal is a pretty sweet deal for burning some cap space for the next 1.5 years.
Smolen: A. The Sixers had cap space, and McGee costs money the Nuggets didn’t want to spend. After seeing what the Thunder did today, I think it is absolutely reasonable to expect the pick to come over this year and provide the Sixers with some extra flexibility come draft night. Plus, Chu Chu Maduabum. I mean, come on.
Stone: A. Hinkie acquired a first-round pick for nothing, almost certainly a life goal for him. I doubt McGee’s contract is going to hinder any potential acquisitions moving forward, considering they’ve been living under the salary floor the last two seasons. And most importantly, they acquired Chu Chu Maduabum. This puts the trade in A+ range. My girlfriend was going to have to spend months getting over the loss of MCW – but now the Sixers have (the rights to) a player named Chu Chu Maduabum. All of the draft picks the eye can see and Chu Chu Maduabum. This is a good day, guys.
4. What were your expectations heading into the deadline?
Goldwein: Not this. A second-round pick here, a late-first there… Little stuff. The Sixers, though, dealt their heart and soul of this shell of an NBA team, and got a ton back in return. Like Michael Carter-Williams, I’m shocked.
Share: Nothing big. I figured the most likely scenario was the Sixers sneaking in as the third team in a larger deal to provide cap relief and grab a pick. I was wrong.
Toporek: I didn’t have high hopes of any major moves. Unlike last year, when the Sixers had the expiring contracts of Hawes, Turner and Lavoy Allen to flip, the only expirings of note this year were Jason Richardson (who hasn’t played in two years), Andrei Kirilenko (has played 36 minutes all season) and Luc Mbah a Moute, who Brett Brown openly loves. I figured AK-47 or Richardson might be on the move if needed in a salary dump, but that’s about it. If anything, I expected Hinkie to use his salary-cap space to take on a salary dump for picks. (Looks like I wound up being half-right.)
Smolen: Frankly, I really didn’t have any. I thought there was a chance that Hinkie would Hinkie about and absorb some toxic assets for a second round pick here or a second round pick there. With Hawes, Turner, and Young already gone, the Sixers don’t have much in the way of tradeable assets: AK-47 and Jason Richardson are about as valuable as I am at this point, so I expected a relatively quiet day in Philadelphia. I was wrong.
Stone: That Hinkie would essentially use his salary cap space as a landfill for other teams looking to unload contracts, possibly securing the entirety of this year’s second round in the process. Put it this way – his phone wouldn’t be making any outgoing calls, but it would be taking a lot of incoming calls. Then 2:50 pm, February 19, 2015 happened.
5. The Sixers get a __ for their 2015 trade deadline.
Goldwein: B. Value-wise, they get an A. For the price of K.J. McDaniels and Michael Carter-Williams, they’ve got the protected Lakers pick while arguably upgrading at point guard with Isaiah Canaan. (Raw MCW is inefficient). Still, it hurts to lose two key, young rotation players. Continuity, and keeping the team (and coach) happy, is important. But how these moves will impact team morale is yet to be seen.
Share: B+. They got great value for an inefficient point guard and a passable return for McDaniels. However, like Eric said, there’s value in continuity and keeping people happy – it may not be at the top of the Sixers’ to-do list, nor should it be, but it’s still a factor. Moving two young rotation players isn’t nothing.
Toporek: B+. I’m treating this year’s Sixers like the current season of The Walking Dead. On their own, a number of episodes this season have sucked. When viewed in the bigger picture, though, they were entirely necessary to establish something greater. Losing MCW and K.J. sucks. The team appears to have gotten significantly less fun/entertaining/enjoyable for the next two months. But when we look back in 3-5 years, with the Sixers steamrolling their way through the Eastern Conference, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the day where everything started coming into focus.
Smolen: B. Honestly, as my answers may have indicated, this is hard for me. I think the trades made today can help make the Sixers a better team in 5 years than they otherwise would have been. But today, more than ever before, it has come at a cost. Today is the first time I can understand fan morale sinking, at least temporarily. And I can’t possibly imagine how Brett Brown and the lockerroom are responding to this. To seemingly have bought in to the process only to see one the team’s most identifiable young player dealt (even if it is for value) has to sting.
Stone: B+, flirting on an A-… but I like MCW too much to deem this an ‘A’ day. Look, the Sixers now own 832 (I think the real number is 30-something, which is still insane) draft picks over the next five years. The sad truth is that you can only keep 15 players on an NBA roster. Of the current roster, MCW and McDaniels both had value and were both expendable. The Sixers could still very well have the first overall pick this summer. The acquisition of Dragic solidifies Miami as the 7-seed but doesn’t push them past Milwaukee in my eyes, so they’ll most likely have pick 16 as well. If Oklahoma City stays healthy, they’re a better team than Charlotte, Miami, Milwaukee, and Washington – the teams they’d most likely have to pass to grant the Sixers pick 19.
So you’re looking at picks 1 (fingers perpetually crossed), 16, 19, and a Lakers pick that is only going to increase in value next year. That’s enough to put a package together that few teams, if any, can match. As today proved, there’s no telling what Hinkie is going to do with those assets, but whereas the Sixers were very recently only in a position to improve through the draft, they now have the pieces in place to move in a variety of directions. Today was a confirmation of the Sixers’ adamant, somewhat-twisted philosophy – not a reversal of it. It just takes a moment and the regrettable loss of some fan-favorites to see that.