As the clock continues to tick down to Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, the rumors are starting to fly fast and furious as to what the Sixers and their GM Sam Hinkie might be planning. The Sixers currently sit at 12-41 with the third worst record in the league, but have the Los Angeles Lakers, who have all but officially gone into tank mode, sniffing at their heels.
It’s a safe bet that this year won’t see the dramatic moves that last season saw and that it will lack a big, blockbuster deal. But that doesn’t mean Hinkie won’t be active on the phones and trying to make some moves to improve the future prospects of the franchise. Just what those might be, however, depends on who you ask.
The latest rumor currently making the rounds (according to Tom Moore of The Intelligencer) is that the Sacramento Kings and new coach George Karl are looking to make some changes as they prepare for an uncertain future. And the name being mentioned the most in those talks is rookie shooting guard Nik Stauskas. Drafted with the No. 8 pick out of Michigan, Stauskas has been a disappointment in the eyes of many Kings fans and some feel to trade him to get a proven veteran presence would be the best move for a team in the highly competitive Western Conference.
Almost as soon as the rumor broke, the Sixers were named as a possible trading partner with the idea that the team would send center Nerlens Noel to Sacramento in exchange for Stauskas and one of those oh so popular second-round picks.
And while the move would make a certain amount of logical sense, seeing as how the Sixers could use a shooting guard with the potential to be a scorer, it would go against everything this team has been building towards this season.
After far too long, the Philadelphia 76ers have a defined and clear identity: a smothering defensive team that stays in games and just won’t go away. They have been proving it all season with close losses against some of the best in the league, including the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks. And the 12 games they have won haven’t been because of a stellar offense, but because they don’t let the opponent get near the basket. The Sixers are currently 20th in the NBA in points allowed at 100.5 per game, which when you think about the average age and experience of most of the roster, is pretty impressive.
They kept the best offense in the NBA this season, the Golden State Warriors, to under 90 points back on February 9. Need I say more?
And a big part of the reason for that is Noel. What he lacks in offense he more than makes up for in his defensive skill set. He is averaging 7.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game this season and if that was to be removed in favor of Stauskas, it would be a dramatic shift away from what this team has been doing so well.
As the 2014-15 season has progressed, the Sixers have made great strides in starting to gel as a unit and finding their groove. It has made them an incredibly entertaining squad to watch and their protection of the basket is beginning to earn them the respect of the rest of the NBA. And while who Hinkie ultimately chooses to take in the draft will surely affect the makeup of the team, right now Nick Stauskas and a second-rounder isn’t worth losing Noel and what he brings to the Sixers’ game.
While I’m sure the Sixers will make some moves by Thursday’s trade deadline, let’s all hope this one stays just a rumor.