Going into Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, most fans and members of the media assumed that it would be a far quieter day than what everyone witnessed last season. The 2014 deadline saw Sixers GM Sam Hinkie strip the roster of most of its talent in exchange for draft picks that would become the team that has taken the court this year. That team has played some, while “good” might be too strong a word, competitive basketball over the last couple months. They had impressed a lot of people and most thought that while Hinkie may make some small moves, it wouldn’t be anything like the bomb he dropped into the middle of the roster last season.
Yeah. So much for that idea.
By 3:00 PM, Hinkie had remade the roster yet again as the Sixers parted ways with point guard and reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams as well as swingman K.J. McDaniels. In exchange, the 76ers have acquired the Los Angeles Lakers 2015 first-round pick (which is top-5 protected), a second-round pick as well as point guard Isaiah Canaan.
But lets go over the days events in order, shall we?
Much like the Sixers last year, the Denver Nuggets were in fire sale mode; everything had to go with nothing held back. So the Sixers did a bit of shopping and got themselves JaVale McGee in addition to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 2015 first-round pick, which is top-18 protected. The pick becomes top-15 protected in 2016 and 2017 and then becomes a pair of second-round picks in 2018 and 2019.
And all it cost Hinkie was the rights to international player Cenk Akyol, whom no one even knew the Sixers had the rights to anyway.
McGee, chosen with the No. 18 pick by the Washington Wizards in 2008, is going into the final two years of his contract, which will pay him $11.25 million this season and $12 million the next. A talented swingman, McGee also has a reputation for a less than stellar work ethic and a lack of focus on his game. He has played in only 17 games this season due to injury, averaging 5.2 points and 2.8 rebounds while with the Nuggets. As to whether he can work in Brett Brown‘s system or McGee will be added to the long list of Sixers buyouts is anyone’s guess right now.
The Sixers essentially bought themselves a first-round pick with their cap space. Get ready to start cheering for the Thunder.
At this point most thought the Sixers were done for the day with the exception of maybe a small transaction or two. But this is Sam Hinkie we’re talking about and you never count him out until well after the deadline is over.
In a shocking move, Hinkie sent Carter-Williams to the Milwaukee Bucks as part of a three-team trade that also included the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns acquired Brandon Knight from Milwaukee (to help replace the departed Goran Dragic) while the Bucks got MCW, Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis. The Sixers get the Lakers’ 2015 first-rounder from the Suns, which is top-5 protected in 2015, top-3 protected in 2016 and 2017 and finally unprotected in 2018.
Trade rumors had been swirling around MCW for months now, but no one saw this coming, least of all Carter-Williams. He tweeted out shortly after the deal was announced
I can't lie I'm shocked. I love this city thank you for everything. I can honestly say I gave it my all. I wish Philly nothing but the best
— Michael Carter-Willi (@MCW1) February 19, 2015
Fans had barely had time to process the loss of MCW with the next bombshell was dropped. The Sixers had dealt McDaniels to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Isaiah Canaan and another second-round pick.
We had talked before about the fact that the one-year deal McDaniels signed may result in his being traded at the deadline, but as the day progressed most thought he was safe and would remain a key part of the Sixers rebuild despite being a restricted free agent this offseason.
Turns out not so much.
Canaan, a point guard taken with the 34th pick in 2013, has been averaging 6.2 points, 1.2 assists and 1.3 rebounds per game with the Rockets this season. While it addresses the Sixers need at guard with Tony Wroten out for the year after surgery, he is a poor replacement for MCW.
So at the end of the day, the Sixers grabbed themselves a couple first-round picks, yet another second-rounder and Canaan. Which means if you do the math and everything goes the Sixers way, they could have as many as four first-round picks in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Say what you want about Sam Hinkie and the way he has orchestrated this rebuild, but the man has guts. He has made decisions and trades that some would call crazy and others would call visionary. Hinkie has a clear idea of what he is doing and nothing is going to sway or change it.
When the Sixers win or lose once the rebuild is finished, it’s all on Sam Hinkie and no one else. And he will reap the rewards or suffer the consequences.