It may be Yeezy Season everywhere else in the world right now, but in Philadelphia this week it’s Hinkie Season — otherwise known as the NBA Trade Deadline. Last year’s deadline was so insane that it nearly broke the Trade Machine himself. Let’s get to the major talking points leading up to Thursday:
Let’s cool our jets with the trade machine
Tweeting out your hypothetical deal that ships Jahlil Okafor to some far-off land seems to be all the rage among the kids these days (myself included!). But perhaps we’ve taken the trade machine a bit too far this year — this isn’t Bill Simmons’ Fantasy World where superstars are changing locations every other day.
Even more so is that the appeal of the Sixers’ assets lie in the future rather than immediately. Okafor and Nerlens Noel have potential to be great players, but they’re not the final piece that gets the Clippers over the hump this year. So even in the event that the Clips are looking to expedite Blake Griffin from Los Angeles come Thursday, a third team would need to get involved to facilitate a Blake-to-Philly move — and by that point, the said hypothetical third team may as well package together its own offer for Blake. Expect Jah, Noel, et al. to stay put for now.
And yes, you’re right, I don’t get invited to too many parties.
But the frontcourt needs to be addressed. Soon.
Calling this situation a logjam would be generous. Forget the awkward (yet improving!) fit between Noel and Okafor: Ben Simmons, likely best utilized at the four, may find his way here next season; we are still expecting Dario Saric by October 2016 at the time of this writing; and you should probably start getting excited about Joel Embiid again.
This is all before considering the B Team, featuring Jerami Grant, Robert Covington, and Richaun Holmes. Rich Holmsie Quan is already struggling to hit the hardwood for an eight-win squad, Nylon Calculus shows the Sixers play 17.1 points better per 100 possessions better when Lord Cov plays the four over the three, and Jerami Grant’s newfound playmaking ability may make him three years and a workable jumper away from being one of the biggest second-round heists in recent history.
This is where drafting BPA (best player available) may come to rear its ugly head: only 96 minutes exist between the center and forward positions, and the Sixers can’t feasibly carry this entire core into next season. But this also means that any deal to clear the frontcourt may be made in haste, which could put the Sixers in a position of weakness. The value looks nice on paper, but the market is an entirely different beast. (Having competing bidders, however, would alleviate some of those concerns).
Let’s remember that Sam Hinkie doesn’t always win these things
In case you missed it (I’m sure you didn’t), the Bucks are apparently already over the MCW show. The 2014 ROTY award may well be the peak of our old friend’s career, and Hinkie flipping him for what could possibly be a top-four pick this summer is nothing short of a modern masterpiece.
But outside of fleecing Milwaukee nearly as savagely as the Bucks’ own owners, Hinkie’s deadline resumé has been murky. I’ve already voiced my discontent with the K.J. deal — Isaiah Canaan would obviously be preferred over McDaniel’s 62 minutes logged in Houston this year, but K.J.’s potential over the lifetime of his three-year deal may yet be more intriguing than that of an undersized chucker.
But a possibly more questionable February flop of Hinkie remains acquiring the rights to Danny Granger’s retirement and a Warriors’ second-rounder for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen two season ago. Granger would never suit up for Philly and ultimately be bought out, per expectations. That second-rounder amounted to the 60th pick last June: Luka Mtrović, otherwise known as the token asset given up this summer for Nik Stauskas and company.
Turner and Allen were far from perfect in Philadelphia: ET was widely considered a laughing-stock as a draft bust, while Lavoy was a remnant of Doug Collins’ drab, inefficient Sixers hoops. Both have become integral pieces of Eastern Conference playoff teams — not a particularly flashy title, but one that’s certainly worth far more than trade fodder and a buyout.
The Sixers have been linked to some weird names
Outside of the Sixers still being in search for its point guard of the future, Teague and Schroeder make little sense. Teague is a nice player, but is likely worth more to Atlanta than he is to the Sixers. His cheap deal expires at next season’s end, and may not be worth the inflated deal that he’ll ultimately net in a $109 million salary cap economy. And having sniffed 60-win success last season, Teague may lean more toward signing up with a contender in 2017 rather than carrying the Sixers youngins through his early 30s.
Schroeder on the other hand is young and on a cheap deal through 2018, but is a nightmare fit with the Sixers’ roster — the worst pairing with Okafor is an overconfident, ball-dominant guard who doesn’t space the floor and oops I accidentally might’ve just described Ish Smith.
Dwight makes complete sense here if the Sixers are shooting for an all-center lineup next season, which sounds like Vivek Ranadivé’s Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
In other words, there’s probably the lowest possible non-zero chance that the Sixers have started real talks about these players. And if they actually have, it may just be a matter of Old Man Colangelo keeping up appearances — at least that is my blind speculation that you should in no way listen to.
Expect a quieter deadline this year
Unlike previous seasons, the Sixers have no immediate contributors nor contract conflicts to sort out this deadline. Ish Smith could conceivably help a playoff contender — New Orleans, anybody? — but shipping him off for a second time might actually kill Nerlens. Carl Landry is literally an NBA veteran who can play basketball, but his seven DNP-CDs over the last 10 games probably don’t scream “value” to the trade market. And we drool over Covington’s contract as the Magnum Opus of the Hinkie Special, but his up-and-down play this season would probably be a low sell on his value at this juncture.
The Sixers will however be, as always, prime contenders as the salary-dump-third-team in any and every deal. Philly sits roughly $2.7 million below the salary floor — no, it still doesn’t actually matter — but are also set to clear nearly $22 million in cap room this summer as the waived contracts of Gerald Wallace, JaVale McGee, Tony Wroten, and Furkan Aldemir are wiped from the books. With the cap booming to an estimated $89 million this summer, the Sixers could potentially be looking at $50 million in cap room next season.
I hope David Lee likes cheesesteaks and bad football.