Breaking down the Sixers' wild deadline day

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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.

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”