The NBA, like all sports associations, is a league of pride and respect.
Between players, between coaches, between owners.
So, with that in mind, it is perfectly reasonable to ask the following question:
What the hell are the 76ers doing?
General manager Sam Hinkie is doing a historic job of imploding the city of Philadelphia’s basketball pride.
At the trade deadline, he traded away young and exciting talent like Michael Carter-Williams and K.J. McDaniels.
He has also given up promising talent and solid veteran players like Jrue Holiday (All Star), Jodie Meeks, Louis Williams, Nikola Vucevic (All Star snub), Andre Iguodala, Spencer Hawes, and Nick Young over the past few seasons. While doing all of this, he managed to trade away any respect his “NBA” team commanded.
These trades, among many other puzzling moves, have placed Philadelphia in a position of draft kings. They could have up to 4 first round picks in this upcoming draft, and will have 5 second round picks.
Now this is obviously a rebuilding team’s dream, but these picks come at a cost greater than just the players they traded for them.
Hinkie has ripped apart any chance at winning the team had for these picks, and it has drawn criticism towards the 76ers from many sources around the league. Just look at the Andrei Kirilenko situation. After being traded to Philly along with a second round pick earlier this season for Brandon Davies, Kirilenko refused to report to the 76ers after attending to a family matter in New York.
I mean, who would?
When you are a 12 year veteran, you don’t want to waste your time on a D-league showcase team like the Sixers. But the Russian dubbed ‘AK 47’ isn’t the only veteran feeling strongly against playing for 76ers.
Veterans do not want to play for the Sixers. At all. From Zach Harper of CBS Sports:
But it isn’t just the veterans who have been eager to jump ship from Philly or stay away in the first place. Michael Carter-Williams, former Rookie of the Year and Sam Hinkie’s most recent abandonment, sounds pretty happy to get away from the sad, lonely ranks of the Sixers, when asked about how he likes his new fit in Milwaukee.
Via Sean Highkin of NBC Sports:
“I love it,” Carter-Williams said after the Bucks’ 87-71 loss to the Bulls in Chicago on Monday. “They have a great attitude here and they’re chasing the playoffs. There is a different vibe. These guys are great.”
In other words, ‘thank god I am out of that tanking mess.”
Just looking at the Sixers roster, it is apparent that the team is not built to win now. It serves as more of a middle ground between the NBA Development League and the NBA.
The only real veteran on the team is guard Jason Richardson, who has had somewhat of an illustrious career. He has been fighting injuries for the past two years, and he was just recently able to make a comeback to the NBA. He is the only example of a good story coming out of Philly.
But look elsewhere. JaVale McGee is a seven foot tall manchild. Luc Richard Mbah A Moute may be the best player on the active roster, and he hasn’t been able to stay on a single NBA team for more than two seasons at a time. Ish Smith, Tony Wroten, Robert Covington, and Isaiah Canaan are all mediocre quality players with some promise, but teams cannot turn to them for leadership or much offense.
But have you ever heard of JaKarr Sampson, or Hollis Thompson, or Furkan Aldemir, or Tim Frazier producing big numbers or helping an NBA team win a game? Didn’t think so.
The most promising players, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid, have failed to live up to their big pre-draft hype. Noel has battled injury and been somewhat ineffective for much of his young career, and Embiid hasn’t seen the court as he is still sidelined with injury.
In a shocking report from Forbes, the fact that the Sixers were shopping now franchise cornerstone (despite not playing a game this season) Joel Embiid in trades emerged.
“In an unnoticed development at last week’s trade deadline, the 76ers were still trying to trade up for a top pick in this draft, indicating a willingness to talk about Joel Embiid or any player on their team, an NBA source told Forbes.com.
The 76ers need to err on the side of caution, because soon enough getting drafted to the 76ers will turn into a player’s nightmare and another way of saying ‘three more years of college ball’, because they won’t be competing.
Overall, this team has sacrificed the one thing it has in exchange for potential promise in the future in the form of draft picks – legitimacy.
Never before has the NBA witnessed such a massive tear down of a roster. It is hard to comprehend that the Sixers were a playoff team in 2011, just four seasons ago.
It really is a sad circumstance. What was once a normal rebuild by trading away stars Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday has turned into an unprecedented one. The MCW pick was a home run, one that no one saw coming.
But he is now traded for yet another first round pick, and it begs the question; when will the pick piling stop and the steps towards becoming a successful franchise, and developing young talent, and getting back on par with the competition in the NBA, start?
Right now, there is no clear answer.