I wasn’t planning to write a Trade Deadline post. I was going to finish and publish the Western Conference Best and Worst Case Scenarios.
Those will come eventually and to be honest, I will probably go back and change about half of the Eastern Conference Scenarios since today’s festivities rendered them useless.
But how can I not first write about possibly the greatest deadline in modern history? How can a basketball blog written by a Philadelphian let Sam Hinkie’s outburst of transactions go unmentioned? The MCW trade is the first of Hinkie’s moves that the truly plugged-in and knowledgeable fans will question. Until now, every his move, especially trades, were viewed overwhelmingly positively.
This one is the first true eyebrow raiser. I’m not even sure how I’m getting words out. (I’m also doing so on my iPhone on the El riding home from work because I had to get something out of my brain.) I hate to go full-Simmons on you, but the first thought I had about Hinkie at the deadline was comparing it to The Dark Knight Rises.
Hinkie’s first big move (the Holiday-Noel deal) left people surprised, but excited. It was dark and signaled a new era. This was his Batman Begins.
His second big move (drafting Embiid and Saric, firing up the tanks again) was somehow unexpected and right on the nose. It turned heads. It dropped jaws. This was his Dark Knight.
And now, just like Christopher Nolan infused a bit too much Christopher Nolan into The Dark Knight Rises (convoluted suspense, plot twists that were just a bit too convenient), Sam Hinkie’s latest move follows suit and may just be too Hinkie for even Hinkie. Carter-Williams was liked by fans and teammates. He was, essentially, the face of #TogtherWeBuild. His growth and his potential, albeit limited, were at the core of the Sixers plan, at face value.
I don’t want a sloppy Batman metaphor to be your takeaway from this post, so let me lay out the facts at hand.
There is a very, VERY good chance that the pick acquired in this trade (originally from the Lakers, via Phoenix, Top 5 protected this year and Top 3 protected next year) will net Philadelphia a better player than Carter-Williams.
In the mind of Sam Hinkie, a bird in the hand is not worth even one in the bush because he can trade the bush bird for more assets or don’t worry, that bush bird will be in the hand two years from now. Who knows? The bush bird could be a falcon or a hawk (or a Duck).
When pressed, when I really consider it, gun to my head, I tend to agree with him.
Michael Carter-Williams is a good player. Not great. Not spectacular. It would surprise me if he made multiple All-Star games. In the NBA, players like him do not or will not put you among the contenders or even among playoff teams. In almost every case, the teams with a chance to win the title have at least two of the 30 best players in the league. The only potential exceptions to this rule would be the Spurs or Hawks, both of whom have not two, but FOUR All-Star caliber players. The best way to build one of the NBA’s best teams is by acquiring it’s best players or players and picks with a chance to be one of the league’s best.
Joel Embiid could be that good. The Sixers first-round pick could be that good. The Lakers pick (whether this year or next) could be that good. The Sixers 2016 pick could be. To a much lesser extent, Dario Saric, the Miami Heat’s pick, or one of the other assets the Sixers own could improbably be that good. Most importantly, a player the Sixers could trade some of these assets for could be or is already that good. Houston pounced when James Harden, a great Sixth Man but still a Sixth Man, came available.
All of these picks or trades will not work out, but having extra bullets in the gun will make hitting the target a bit easier.
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.