In case you missed it or had trouble following along last night, here’s what the Sixers did… ready?… you sure?… in some semblance of order: traded Jrue Holiday and the 42nd overall pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for Nerlens Noel (Kentucky) and their first round pick in the 2014 draft (top-five protected), drafted Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse) at 11, supposedly hired Spurs assistant Brett Brown as coach, traded their 35th pick – shooter and thug lifer Glen Rice Jr. – to the Wizards for the 38th and 54th picks, where they took Nate Wolters (South Dakota State) and Arsalan Kazemifrom (Iran!) They then reportedly traded Wolters to Milwaukee for the 43rd pick – Ricky Ledo – who was reportedly sent to Atlanta. Oh, and they apparently tried, but failed, to trade Evan Turner.
Got that? Good.
Let’s talk about it.
Can you imagine the conversation between Adam Aron and Sam Hinkie when Aron returned from his African safari this week:
Hey Adam, how as the trip?
Breathtaking. Marvelous. Proud.
That’s good. Oh hey, about the draft and stuff– I’m trading your best and only marketable player for a guy who’s running on (in?) an anti-gravity treadmill. We’re going to suck real bad next year and you’re not going to sell any tickets. Cool? By the way, the confetti machine broke down, I was using it to shred all my top-secret spreadsheets in a festive fashion before the draft. But don’t worry, I don’t think you’re going to need it next year.
– stares –
Also, I took care of the coaching thing (you’re welcome), deleted Bynum’s number, and wiped the white film off those Doug Collins pictures in your office. We should be all set to make a run in 2016. Just need you to get me a mascot… preferably one with thick-rimmed glasses and an Excel enterprise license. We’ll call him “Position Adjusted Win Score,” or “PAWS,” for short. It can be a Dogg.
What a weird week for the Sixers. On Monday, Howard Eskin, Dei Lynam and Keith Pompey (of the Inquirer) all reported or confirmed a report that Aron was either fired or no longer the CEO. The Sixers dropped the ball big-time– it took them seven hours to deny that Aron was out. Both Aron and Joshua Harris were out of the country and, strangely, Hinkie and the PR department had no idea what was going on. It was, and remains, a clusterfuck. Aron’s role with the team is likely changing, so that’s probably the reason for the reports, all of which seemingly overstepped the truth.
If the Sixers’ handling of the innaccurate reporting was bad, the accountability from reporters was worse.
Pompey had confirmed the initial report, writing: “THE 76ERS HAVE FIRED CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER ADAM ARON, A LEAGUE SOURCE CONFIRMED MONDAY AFTERNOON.” Bolding is mine, for effect and mockery.
That’s what Pompey wrote on Monday (it’s since been updated with what actually happened– that Aron wasn’t fired).
Here’s what Pompey wrote early Tuesday morning: “Howard Eskin of Fox 29 first reported earlier in the day via Twitter that the Sixers had parted ways with Aron. A league source confirmed Eskin’s report to The Inquirer. CSNPhilly.com’s Dei Lynam also reported, per a source, that Aron lost his job.”
How did Eskin and Lynam handle it?
A lazy let’s see how it plays out from Eskin.
This was her initial report:
Clearly, something is up with Aron’s role with the Sixers, but the team denied that he’s out as CEO and Aron denied that he was fired. Everyone remained quiet for three days after that. No word from the Sixers on what caused all the confusion, no further word from Aron, and absolutely zero accountability or explanation from the reporters– again: Eskin, the guy from the Inquirer, and the lady from CSN Philly. These weren’t obscure reports, they were from (relative) heavy-hitters. Yet… nothing. Everyone gets stuff wrong from time to time, but if a blogger or someone else put something as drastic as “fired” out there, people would demand an explanation for the gaff.
As for the Sixers, they not only fumbled the ball, but they kicked and tripped over it all the way until Thursday. They said nothing. It was like they didn’t exist. Regardless of what they did last night, it’s still fair to criticize them for the way the entire franchise has been run lately.
Hinkie not included.
I liked the Hinkie hire. For once, the Sixers were trying something different, were being progressive– bringing in an advanced stats guy to play NBA Moneyball. But we had no idea what his plan was. Would the ownership group allow him to clean house and start over the way he wanted? That would be a super risky move for a team that already had trouble with, you know, having fans.
But that’s what they did. Hinkie has the power. And, last night, he did pretty much the most unthinkable thing he could do with it: traded Jrue Holiday. For the first time in decades, a Sixers GM is not trying to toe the (thin) line between rebuilding and staying competitive. That rarely works (the Phillies worry me with that). No longer are the Sixers going to do the happy-go-lucky Midwestern team thing and surround a name player with a bunch of scrubs so they can claim to be rebuilding but, really, just tread the waters of profit. Nope. This time it’s for real.
So, tell me again why this is a good thing?
The Sixers unloaded Holiday – who I’d argue is a classic Sixers mid-level star… not a franchise cornerstone – and his $41 million contract. In exchange, they got Noel, considered by many to be the most talented player in the draft. His stock (and draft position) fell thanks to the torn ACL he suffered in February. It doesn’t matter that he likely won’t be ready to play until December, because the Sixers are going to be very bad next year.
Noel is is tall, lanky and a superb defender and shot blocker. He’ll need to gain weight, though.
The first round pick the Sixers received from New Orleans should give them two picks in what is projected to be a very deep draft next year.
They drafted Michael Carter-Williams, Noel’s best friend, at 11. He’ll – fingers-crossed – be able to fill Holiday’s shoes, at least for the time being.
And then they drafted Wolters (and maybe traded him) and the Iranian in the second round (fine).
So now the Sixers have the most talented (and most injured) player in the 2013 draft, a guard to replace Holiday, cap space (lots of big-name free agents next year, one is named LeBron) and two first round picks in 2014. That’s how you rebuild.
Oh, and this means that the Sixers almost certainly won’t attempt to re-sign Bynum. He’s a short-term ticket-seller, not a long-term solution.
Should I root against the Sixers next season?
Absofuckinglutely you should. They are going to be very, very bad. No Holiday, no Bynum, Spencer Hawes, Noel is out until December. You want them to lose, and lose a lot. Lose in ways that make Adam Aron Tweet macabrely. If you got some sort of sick pleasure out of seeing the Bynum thing fail as last season went on, then next season is for you! I’m not joking when I say the Sixers should do a Play in the NBA for a Day promotion. Every day. They should have a different fan in the starting lineup every game. I submit Hayley, my dog:
Finally, the Sixers are rebuilding, the right way.
But I like rooting for teams.
Good. Root for the Pelicans and Celtics. The Pelicans’ pick is reportedly top-five protected. That means that if they earn at top-five pick next year, they’ll keep it and the one they traded to the Sixers will defer to the next year. You don’t want that. You want the Pelicans to be good enough not to get a lottery pick. Just root for Jrue.
You also want to root for the Celtics. They, too, are going to be very bad and will be in the running for the number one pick. We want that pick. So, yes, Go Celtics!
This is all great, but it’s just the first step. I’m still not convinced that the people running the team can steer this ship entirely in the right direction. Hinkie, too, is largely an unknown. He has a lot of moves to make before the Sixers are any good or a contender. It’s not going to be pretty for a little while. But, last night, Hinkie took nine steps backward to go 76 steps forward. Oh, and he supposedly hired a coach. Good start.