Trade Deadline Report Card: Philadelphia 76ers

76ersThe trade deadline has come and gone and no blockbuster moves were made.  One of the busiest teams on the trade front, though, were the Philadelphia 76ers.  Their moves, however, seemed to leave one scratching their head.  With rumours that this year’s draft may be among the deepest ever, it is understandable that the 76ers might want to load up on first round picks, even if it comes at the expense of giving up some promising young talent.  The 76ers had three such pieces on the block all season: Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young.  The hope was that they 76ers would be able to secure a first round pick for each of the players.  The reality turned out that the 76ers gave up two of these talented players and all they have received is two second-round picks and a player who wants to be bought out of his expiring contract: Danny Granger.  Only time will tell if these moves amount to addition by subtraction, or if the 76ers sent out a promising core for practically nothing. 

Spencer Hawes

Spencer Hawes

Hawes was the first to go.  In that deal, the 76ers picked up two second round picks in this year’s draft.  As deep as this draft might be, the reality is that second round picks are lucky if they even make a roster, let alone become a significant rotation player.  The 2003 draft, which is considered the deepest draft in recent memory, produced several All-Stars, but with the exception of Mo Williams, who had one All-Star appearance, none came from the second round.  In fact, though a handful or rotation players were drafted in the second round, Williams is the only consistent starter draft that round outside of Kyle Korver.  This year Hawes is averaging close to a double-double, posting averages far above what most second round picks could ever hope to do, leading the team in rebounds and blocked shots with a TS% or hovering around a respectable 55%.  It is true that his numbers may be slightly inflated due to the fact that he is playing on a team that is performing poorly, but he is still performing at a level that is far higher than an overwhelming majority of second round picks.

Evan Turner

Evan Turner

Evan Turner was believed to be the biggest trade asset the 76ers had.  They moved him for Danny Granger, who is now requesting a buyout.  This may or may not happen, but what is clear is that Granger is not on board for the 76ers long term plans. They may keep Granger and leverage him in a sign-and-trade in the offseason, but it seems unlikely that teams will give up much for Granger since his level of play has dipped since suffering two season-ending injuries over the last two years.  Granger will likely be lucky to get an MLE offer this season and in such a case the 76ers won’t be able to use Granger’s Bird rights as leverage in a sign-and-trade.  It seems, then, that the Turner trade amounts to nothing more than a salary dump that was nonsensical for two reasons.  They gave away their biggest trade asset for an expiring contract, when their asset was already on a far less expensive expiring contract and would have been easier to use in a sign-and-trade since he is young and still improving, as opposed to Granger whose recent injuries will likely scare most teams away from offering him a big contract.  The move may not be the worst move in recent memory, but it is clearly not one that brings the 76ers anything but a higher payroll.  Turner’s FG% may be a little low, but it has improved and he has a solid all-around game.  Even if the 76ers were simply going to let Turner walk, keeping him would have saved them some money since he is making a little over 6.6 million this year: almost 8 million less than Ganger’s deal. 

Thaddeus Young

Thaddeus Young

Young remained with the team past the deadline, and may be able to help the 76ers secure a draft pick yet, if they can work out a deal with a team that doesn’t mind a power forward whose rebounding numbers are a little low.  Given that Young had the longest contract of the three players, it seems as though he would have been the ideal player to move in order to free up cap space, but the 76ers were unable to package him up in a deal.  As a result, the best rebounder on their roster now averages a meager 6.3 boards per game.

Danny Granger may never play a game as a 76ers.

Danny Granger may never play a game as a 76ers.

A nucleus of Tuner, Hawes and Young, is admittedly one that will not win a championship, but as a supporting cast, these veterans could potentially serve as excellent role players.  The 76ers have a great young coach, three guys who are playing well and two draft picks from this past year draft who have a promising future.  Nerlens Noel, who was unanimously touted as the best player in this year’s draft, dropped into the 76ers’ hands because teams were scared away by his injury.  Blake Griffin missed his entire first season with injury and has emerged as an MVP candidate this year.  Noel could do the same thing, though most teams were concerned his career path would more closely mirror Greg Oden’s.  The 76ers also picked up Michael Carter-Williams, who is the first rookie in NBA historyto lead all rookies in points, assists, steals and rebounds.  A promising start, though one that perhaps speaks more to the lack of depth in this year’s draft than his own dominance.  It is true that Carter-Williams, like other members of the 76ers, is hitting a percentage that is south of the league’s average, but as a rookie, such deficiencies can be expected.  But with the two best players from the draft on their roster, and a high pick in this year’s upcoming draft, the 76ers may have three franchise players in their starting line-up if they play their cards rights.  If this were the case, Turner, Hawes and Young would make for excellent 4th, 5th and 6th options.  The 76ers would have also been able to woo a free agent or two, giving the team a solid 7 or 8 man rotation.  Instead, the 76ers have forfeited a depth that most teams could have only hoped for.

Michale Carter-Williams (left) and Lerlens Noel (right).

Michale Carter-Williams (left) and Lerlens Noel (right).

The 76ers are still in a good position.  Noel and Carter-Williams are excellent building blocks, and this year’s draft could land them another potential All-Star, but even if it does, they 76ers will have to start placing role players and veterans around this young talent.  Had they kept Hawes and Tuner, they would have had such talent in place, and might have been able to negotiate trades to improve their roster further. Instead, under the pressure of the trade deadline, the 76ers made some rash moves.  These moves may pay off, or they may not.  If Granger stays and returns to form, he would likely be a better option than Tuner to provide veteran leadership for the team next year.  Philedelphia’s scouting team may have found some legitimate choices for second round picks, not an entirely unlikely scenario considering that the 76ers pilfered the San Antonio Spurs assistant coach responsible for player development.  Time will tell if these were shrewd moves that made room for better players, or the result of a panicked front office.

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