Breaking down the Sixers' wild deadline day


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

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.

In long-awaited NBA debut, Joel Embiid treats Sixers fans to a show

In long-awaited NBA debut, Joel Embiid treats Sixers fans to a show

The crowd erupted as Joel Embiid stepped to the free throw line. They chanted a phrase Embiid has been repeating for the past two years, a fitting welcome to his NBA debut.

“That was great,” Embiid said after the Sixers' 103-97 loss to the Thunder on Wednesday in the season opener (see Instant Replay). “That’s my motto, 'Trust the process.'”

After two years of rehabbing foot injuries, Embiid has his first regular-season game behind him. Embiid scored a team-high 20 points, shooting 6 for 16 from the field, 1 for 3 from long range and 7 for 8 from the line. He also recorded seven rebounds, two blocks, four turnovers and four fouls in over 22 minutes. 

“The beginning I was nervous, but once you make that first shot, it just goes away,” he said. “The fans were so into the game that it was fun. I love having fun.”

Sixers head coach Brett Brown enjoyed watching Embiid on the court as much as the big man liked being on it. Brown has seen the 7-foot-2 center grow and develop during his rehab. Finally, he was able to utilize his versatile skills in a real game setting.

“I can't say this loud enough,” Brown said. “For the city to be rewarded with a player that we all understand has unique gifts, special gifts, for him to go through all the things he has been through and play like he did on opening night, the city deserves it. Most importantly, he deserves it.”

Now that Embiid has been cleared to play, he would like to do so for longer periods of time. He began the preseason at 12 minutes and was increased to 20 in segmented spurts for opening night. Even though he exceeded that limit by over two minutes, Embiid is itching to be cleared to play more extensively. 

“It sucks,” Embiid said. “I feel like I could have played more but you know you’ve got to trust the process, got to trust those guys. If I have my minute restriction at 20 minutes, I guess I’m going to go with that. But obviously I want to play more and more and I think it can help the team better. But they have a plan for me and I’ve got to follow it.”

Embiid has maintained he wants to be a clutch player. Brown looked to him toward the end of the game as the Thunder pulled ahead late in the final quarter. He drained a fadeaway jumper to tie the game at 97 apiece with 50.7 to go. 

Later trailing by four with 10 seconds left, the Sixers went to Embiid. While he was whistled for an offensive foul, Brown was glad to have a go-to unlike in years past. 

“You have a target,” Brown said. “We tried to get the ball to him a lot. … By and large, to have somebody like Joel, where the mystery is solved like, 'What do you do?' You get him the ball as much as you can.”

The more the Sixers found Embiid, the more the Thunder had to try to defend him. Thunder head coach Billy Donovan knew what his team was going up against. He watched Embiid as a high schooler and coached against him during his tenure at Florida. 

“He’s gifted and skilled,” Donovan said. “It was probably our guys' first time seeing him … I knew the talent, the gifts. The one thing with him is, he’s got great footwork. He’s hard to guard because he’s herky-jerky. He moves. He’s got a lot of [Hakeem] Olajuwon to him.”

Opening night had been two years in the making. Even though the Sixers didn't win, the significance of the evening didn't disappoint. 

"I thought this moment was going to be special," Embiid said, "and it was just great."

Best of NBA: Davis' 50 points not enough in Pelicans' loss to Nuggets

Best of NBA: Davis' 50 points not enough in Pelicans' loss to Nuggets

NEW ORLEANS -- Jusuf Nurkic scored 23 points, Will Barton added 22, and the Denver Nuggets survived a dominant performance by Anthony Davis to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 107-102 in both teams' regular season opener Wednesday night.

Davis had 50 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals, five assists and four blocks. His production helped New Orleans trim a deficit as large as 14 late in the second quarter down to two points in the waning minutes. He simply didn't have enough help.

The rest of the Pelicans combined to shoot 21 of 58. Tim Frazier scored 15 for the Pelicans. E'Twaun Moore added 10 points, but missed a 3-point attempt that could have tied it with 24 seconds left.

Danilo Gallinari scored 15 for Denver and Wilson Chandler added 12 points (see full recap).

Celtics top Nets in Horford's home debut
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas had 25 points and nine assists, Jae Crowder added 21 points and Al Horford pitched in 11 in his Boston debut on Wednesday night as the Celtics survived a late scare to beat the Brooklyn Nets 122-117 in their season opener.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 21 for Brooklyn, including a 3-pointer to make it 120-117 with 47 seconds left after the Nets erased most of a 23-point deficit against the Boston bench. But he missed one with a chance to tie it after Joe Harris intercepted Thomas' cross-court pass, and the Celtics were able to hold on.

Justin Hamilton came off the bench to score 19 points and grab 10 rebounds for the Nets in coach Kenny Atkinson's debut (see full recap).

Turner's opening act leads Pacers past Mavs in OT
INDIANAPOLIS -- Myles Turner scored 30 points, tied his career high with 16 rebounds and made a 3-pointer with 1:18 left in overtime to start an 8-0 run that allowed the Indiana Pacers to close out a 130-121 victory Wednesday night over the Dallas Mavericks.

Three-time All-Star Paul George added 25 points, including another 3 with 55 seconds left to seal Indiana's fifth season-opening win in six years.

Deron Williams scored 25 points, while J.J. Barea and Dirk Nowitzki each added 22 as the Mavs lost their fifth straight in the series. They still haven't won in Indianapolis since February 2014.

Dallas didn't tie the score or take a lead until the fourth quarter, yet still forced overtime when Harrison Barnes' open 3-pointer made it 115-all with 2.3 seconds left.

Turner could have won it with a long buzzer-beating 3, but it bounced off the back of the rim (see full recap).