I told myself I wouldn’t do this. Months ago, after responding to every poorly researched and written hit piece on the Sixers, I promised my being that I’d only write about a take if it was especially bad. And after last week, I told myself I’d only respond if the piece was totally abhorrent. So here we are.
Let me start by saying there’s a metric ton you can write about the Sixers negatively that I can not defend. For example: Coach Brown’s seeming inability to figure out which lineups work and which ones don’t. The process’ slow progress. The complete mental collapse, in every game, of every. single. player. Jerami Grant’s inability to hit a single goddamn jumpshot. This is a bad team, and they often play below their own already subpar level. So break that down. Take that apart. Talk about the organization’s allergy to its fans. Go nuts.
But no. Instead, John Smallwood wants to tear apart the Sixers for not completing rumored trades.
Smallwood’s column today (the title reads like a Tracy Jordan quote) – “Okafor-to-Boston rumor scary” – is based entirely around trades that DID NOT HAPPEN:
Just so I understand this, teams had interest in three marginal NBA players, but the Sixers could not work something out and kept all three because they are vital members of a team that was 8-45 at the time.
C’mon . . . If four basketballs were offered, was it worth scrapping a deal because the Sixers could not get a fifth one?
Jokes aside, while I’ve made light of the Sixers’ propensity for trading for second-round picks, even a conditional second-rounder would likely offer more value to the future than keeping Covington, McConnell or Thompson.
First: I don’t know if John Smallwood knows what he’s referring to. The NBA doesn’t have so-called “conditional” picks, common in the NFL, wherein the value of the pick is determined by performance of the traded player or his new team. In the NBA, he’s likely referring to “protected” second-round picks (which can be referred to as “conditional,” to be fair), which often exist not to convey. They’re a team’s way of technically giving something up, without actually having to give anything up. It’s how the Sixers got Tony Wroten, and the Grizzlies got literally nothing in return.
John Smallwood – 2/22/16: “even a conditional second-rounder would likely offer more value to the future than keeping Covington, McConnell or Thompson.”
John Smallwood – 2/18/16: “I would rather have had young players than second-round picks.”
This is peak columnist. We’ve reached a point where his logic is so circular, his points so weak, that he’s arguing against himself less than a week later. This is the problem with Smallwood, Jerardi, Hayes, et al. It’s not their disagreement with the plan – that’s fair – but their true misunderstanding of the strategy and their flawed, often contradictory logic which is no better than that of a sports talk radio caller.
But back to “Okafor Scary”:
Any trade rumor, especially one that was not consummated, has to be taken with a teaspoon of salt, so the Okafor-to-the-Celtics story in the Boston Herald over the weekend might not have legs.
However, a story like Boston almost acquiring Okafor isn’t thrown out there without some serious fact-checking … So if you believe the story, even discussing an Okafor trade in which the Sixers’ big acquisition would be the unprotected 2016 first-round draft pick the Celtics get from the Nets is disturbing …
I’ll say for the umpteenth time that if the Sixers can’t find a way to incorporate a talent like Okafor into their system, they should find a new system.
Wasn’t choosing a system over superior talent one of the complaints about former Eagles coach Chip Kelly?”
Why get so mad about a trade that didn’t happen? I mean, shouldn’t your angle be “Hey, the team didn’t do a trade I think they shouldn’t have done, that’s good”?
And let me rebuff some points Smallwood makes saying you need to build around Okafor:
“Noel is a specialist, so you don’t build around him.”
Okafor is a specialist, too. His specialty is being very good offensively but a net negative overall thanks to his lack of defensive ability. Look at the teams that decided to build around strong offensive/poor defensive centers. How are the Magic and Kings doing now?
It was the move they made when they traded point guard Michael Carter-Williams a half-season after he was named NBA Rookie of the Year.
It wasted 111 games of development and forced the Sixers to reset things for this season.
I’ll say this, and this is the last time, I promise: Michael Carter-Williams is trash and if you think dealing him was a reset you have no goddamn idea what you’re talking about. You can not look into the seeds of time and say which grain will grow and which will not, but to say dealing Okafor is a full reset and dealing MCW was, too, is insane. MCW can’t even get minutes on a Milwaukee team that gave up a bunch to get him. He was listed as INCREDIBLY AVAILABLE at the deadline.
Do I think the Sixers should have dealt Jah? No. I don’t think half of a year is nearly enough to assess the future of how a player works in a system/with another player, especially when many of these guys won’t be around in two years. But come draft time, I don’t doubt the Sixers will take some more calls on him, especially if teams know Boston is interested. I’m gonna take June off from reading columns.
Post Script: Last week, Smallwood said the Sixers had already failed at the deadline by not holding on to Jason Thompson and getting value for him. Jason Thompson was waived yesterday to make room for Anderson Varejao.