Breaking down the Sixers' wild deadline day

thad-young-by-himself-sixers-ap.jpg

Breaking down the Sixers' wild deadline day

Grab a pen and a notepad. We’ll go through what the Sixers did at the trade deadline in an attempt to connect the dots. There are many, many dots.

Remember when we all thought draft night was an indecipherable blur? That evening was fully focused by comparison. Sam Hinkie made moves on Thursday. The Sixers' president and general manager does not mess around.

Trade 1
The Sixers began by sending Spencer Hawes to Cleveland in exchange for forward Earl Clark, center Henry Sims and two second-round picks in the 2014 draft (one from Cleveland, the other from Memphis that the Cavaliers acquired in a previous deal).

Hawes will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. Clark, according to a source, has already been waived. He had a team option for next year. Sims is on a non-guaranteed deal and likely won't return either. So basically, the Sixers were left with two extra second-round picks. They started the day with three second-round picks, bringing their total for the 2014 draft to five second-round picks. That’s a lot, but the Sixers weren’t done.

Also, the Sixers saved a little money in the Cavs deal and dropped to about $13.4 million below the salary cap, which became significant in their next move.

Trade 2
The Sixers were involved in a three-way trade with the Nuggets and the Wizards. The Nuggets sent Andre Miller to Washington in exchange for Jan Vesely. Meanwhile, the Sixers landed point guard Eric Maynor from the Wizards, along with a 2015 second-round pick from the Pelicans (via the Wizards) and the Nuggets' 2016 second-round pick.

You may wonder what the Sixers gave up in the deal. The answer: A little bit of cap space. The money they already had available, combined with the extra money they cleared in Trade 1 with Cleveland, allowed the Sixers to essentially serve as middlemen and help facilitate the deal between the Wizards and Nuggets.

The reason they did so: The 2015 and 2016 picks are particularly valuable to the Sixers because they could very likely help pay off the debt they owe for acquiring Arnett Moultrie. For more on how that would work, read this. The Sixers acquired a second 2015 second-round pick from the Pacers in Trade 4 (see below).

As for Maynor, he has a player option for next year at $2.1 million. He’s going to pick it up because, hey, money. No biggie. It’s a tiny contract and the Sixers already have a lot of money available next year as you’ll see as we continue the exercise.

Trade 3
The Sixers sent a conditional second-round pick –- meaning they’ll place stipulations on it that will likely make it a late-draft selection –- to the Clippers in exchange for center Byron Mullens and a second-round draft pick in 2018.

Mullens has a player option for next season at $1.06 million. As with Maynor, this is no big deal. The Sixers could always trade Maynor and/or Mullens. (Hinkie likes to trade people.) If not, ah well. They have to pay someone to play basketball, and these guys are cheap.

Trade 4
This was the one everyone waited for (even though the trade partner hadn’t been pre-reported by anyone and came as a surprise): The Sixers sent Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen to the Indiana Pacers for Danny Granger and Golden State's second-round pick in 2015. That trade was first reported by Yahoo! Sports and Grantland and then confirmed by CSNPhilly.com.

Had the Sixers kept Turner, a former second overall pick, they would have had to extend an $8.7 million qualifying offer in the offseason if they wanted to make him a restricted free agent. They clearly did not want to make him a restricted free agent. Turner obviously didn’t figure into the Sixers' future in any form. If the Sixers hadn’t moved him, Turner would have walked after becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Allen and Granger will also be unrestricted free agents after this year. Either way, the Sixers were going to clear that money for next season. That is, they weren’t going to pay Turner and Allen, and now they won’t pay Granger. So why do it?

Forget about Allen and Granger. Basically, the Sixers flipped Turner for yet another second-round pick. Given where that pick is likely to fall (at the very end of the second round since the Pacers are a top-tier team), that’s basically the absolute minimum the Sixers could have fetched for Turner. Part of that reduced price is because teams probably figured they could make a run at Turner in the offseason and give up only money to land him instead of also surrendering a pick. But part of that is also because the market didn’t value Turner very highly. The idea that Turner could have been flipped for a first-round pick was always a fallacy.

The bottom line
So where does all this maneuvering leave the Sixers?

Three players went out (Hawes, Turner and Allen) and five four came in (Clark, Sims, Maynor, Mullens and Granger). The Sixers also acquired two second-round picks for 2014, two second-round picks for 2015, one second-round pick for 2016, and one second-round pick for 2018. And they figure to have a ton of cap space moving forward, as expected.

About the picks: If that seems like a lot of second-rounders, it is. But the Sixers almost certainly won't use them all. As mentioned above, one of the 2015 and 2016 second-rounders will likely pay off the Moultrie debt. The others can be alternately employed to select players or included in future deals. As everyone learned today, second-round picks are a type of NBA currency that sometimes help trades get done. The Sixers have accrued quite a bit of that currency.

As for the cap space: If Jason Richardson (who has a player option for $6.6 million next season), Maynor and Mullens all opt in next year –- and they almost certainly will, because who passes up on money? -– the Sixers will still be in great shape. Including those three, they’d have about $27 million in salary commitments. That’s not counting cap holds and what they’ll have to pay future picks and such. Ballparking it here, the Sixers should be around $30 million under the cap as they start to move more pieces around the board this offseason. That’s a lot.

The NBA is about flexibility. The Sixers had options before Thursday’s trade deadline. Now they have even more.

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley is jumping on the Sixers bandwagon.

"I think the Sixers gonna get really good, really quickly, but it all depends on (Joel) Embiid," Barkley said. "They're not gonna win a championship the next couple years, but I think they can really become a perrenial playoff team in the next three years."

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. There are a lot of "ifs" according to Barkley. 

Most of those "ifs" ride on the health of center Joel Embiid. If the big man gets healthy, and the Sixers can resolve the "glutton of big guys," Barkley likes the Sixers chances.

"I think the most important thing they need to figure out is if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. ... I like (Jahlil) Okafor and I like (Nerlens) Noel, but they gotta figure out if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. 

"I like Ben Simmons, but that team's got a long way to go," Barkley said.

To hear more of Barkley's thoughts on the Sixers' future, watch the full video above. 

 

 

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

LAS VEGAS -- New team. Same old result.

Full of new star power -- and dominant on the inside -- the U.S. men's basketball team opened its bid for a third straight Olympic gold medal Friday night with a 111-74 exhibition romp over Argentina.

A game that was over almost before it began showed the U.S. has to improve its shooting and conditioning. It also showed that there is plenty of talent among a group of players that seem to want to play well for each other and their country despite the absence of Olympic stalwarts Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

"There's a willingness from these guys to work on anything we need and to work hard," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "These are very good guys."

A U.S. team that hasn't lost a game in 10 years had little trouble with Argentina, which some consider a medal contender in Rio. Paul George scored 14 first-half points, Kevin Durant added 12, and the U.S. blew open the game early before an appreciative crowd on the Las Vegas Strip.

Even with Bryant retired and James taking this Olympics off, there was no real talent drop off on a team heavily favored to win gold once again. The depth of the U.S. showed as coach Mike Krzyzewski rotated players in and out, searching for the right combinations on a team with 10 new players from 2012.

"Nothing is for sure," Durant said. "We want to get this gold and right now we have a job to do. We have to prepare the right way."

Count the Argentines among those who were impressed at the first real game for the Olympic team.

"Obviously, they have the best talent and the best size in the world," Argentina's Luis Scola said. "That's a big difference in their favor."

The game was the first of five exhibitions the U.S. will play before traveling to Rio to defend the gold medal. The U.S. team has spent the last week practicing in Las Vegas in preparation for the tour and the games.

There weren't any opening night jitters, though the U.S. shot only 45 percent and missed all but 14 of 41 3-pointers. With DeMarcus Cousins pulling down 15 rebounds in just 16 minutes, the U.S. dominated inside, outrebounding Argentina 53-30.

"The big thing is getting in shape and they are not there where they will be," Krzyzewski said. "But we really have an inside presence on the boards."

For Durant the game was a chance to play with a pair of his new Golden State teammates, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. It was also a chance for Durant and Carmelo Anthony -- the only two players from the 2012 team -- to demonstrate that this will be their team in Rio.

Both players cheered from the bench as the minutes were spread around, jumping up to clap for teammates. Every U.S. player got quality time, with Green's 12 minutes the least played by any American.

"We're going to have fun and we're going to enjoy ourselves," Anthony said. "If it's not fun it's not worth it. We're going to enjoy ourselves but at the same time we're going to be focused in trying to get that gold medal."

Durant finished as the game's high scorer with 23 points, while George had 18 and Carmelo Anthony 17. Andres Nocioni had 15 for Argentina, while Manu Ginobili added 11 for Argentina, which lost to the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics.

Though at times little defense was played, there was plenty of offense to keep the crowd at the new T-Mobile Arena happy. The teams combined to put up 70 3-point attempts, 41 of them from the U.S.

Oddsmakers had made the U.S. a prohibitive 29.5-point favorite in what at times looked a lot like an NBA All-Star game. But while the U.S. team is loaded with 12 NBA players, the Argentines had only three on their roster and the talent difference showed.

While the team is full of new players, the gold medal run will be the last for Krzyzewski, the national coach for the last decade. His teams have lost only one game during his reign, which will end after the Olympics with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich taking over.

Manu Ginobili intrigued by coach Brett Brown, Sixers before re-signing with Spurs

Manu Ginobili intrigued by coach Brett Brown, Sixers before re-signing with Spurs

The Spurs have been one of the most consistent NBA teams for nearly 20 years. They have made 19 consecutive postseason trips and won five championships during that span. 

The Sixers, on the other hand, are entering a phase of building a new foundation with a group of young players. They are working to improve upon a 10-win season, let alone making the playoffs.

Yet four-time NBA champion Manu Ginobili saw more than records when weighing his options in free agency. The veteran point guard looked to the Sixers sidelines and was intrigued.

Head coach Brett Brown previously worked in the Spurs basketball operations department and on the coaching staff under Gregg Popovich. He was part of four championship teams in San Antonio. When the Sixers approached Ginobili this offseason, he gave them consideration before returning to the Spurs, where he has spent his entire 14-year career.

“The fact that Philadelphia had a great coach and a person I appreciate so much as Brett Brown, made it more appealing in the case the Spurs didn’t happen,” Ginobili told The Vertical on Thursday. “But the Spurs happened and they always had the priority.”

The Sixers reportedly offered Ginobili, 38, a two-year, partially-guaranteed deal worth around $30 million. The Spurs first offered him a one-year, $3 million contract. Ginobili ended up re-signing with the Spurs for one-year, $14 million. 

“It was not my main option. I never wanted to leave San Antonio,” Ginobili said. “But I had to listen to all the options that are there.”

Ginobili averaged 9.6 points, 3.1 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 19.6 minutes coming off the bench last season. The Sixers are adding veteran leadership, and Ginobili is one of the most experienced in the game. In addition to his reliability at the position, he could have been a mentor to the entire team and worked with Ben Simmons to help hone his point guard skills as the rookie big man plays point-forward. His years of international competition would have gelled with incoming players such as Dario Saric, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Sergio Rodriguez. 

The Sixers signed point guards Jerryd Bayless (three years, $27 million) and Rodriguez (one year, $8 million) this summer. T.J. McConnell and Kendall Marshall still are under contract. Last season's starting point guard Ish Smith signed with the Pistons at the start of free agency.