Sixers trade Holiday for Noel, first-round pick

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Sixers trade Holiday for Noel, first-round pick

It was a monumental night for new Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie. During his first draft with the team, Hinkie seemed to have his hands in at least a dozen trades or proposals for trades.

“The exact status quo wasn’t going to get it done,” Hinkie said after the draft.

In the end, Hinkie just may have pulled off one of the biggest surprises of the night.

A league source confirmed the 76ers have acquired the draft rights for No. 6 overall pick, forward/center Nerlens Noel. To get Noel, the Sixers had to give up their All-Star point guard, Jrue Holiday and the No. 42 overall pick.

The Sixers will also get a first-round pick, protected through the top five spots, from New Orleans for the 2014 draft. The Sixers will also send the 42nd overall pick, Pierre Jackson, to the Pelicans in the deal.

While the Sixers used the No. 11 overall pick to draft 6-foot-6 point guard Michael Carter-Williams from Syracuse University (see story), they dealt their No. 35 pick to Washington for two picks and then traded away one of those picks.

When the dust finally cleared past midnight, the Sixers had Noel, Carter-Williams, a protected first-round pick in 2014 and Oregon’s Arsalan Kazemi, a 6-foot-7 high-energy forward from Iran (see story).

However, the trading of Holiday for the 6-foot-10, 228-pound Noel was a game-changer.

Hinkie, per NBA regulations, was not allowed to comment directly on the trade.

“It was a challenging night in many ways with one gut-wrenching phone call,” Hinkie said, perhaps alluding to the call to Holiday to tell him he had been traded. “All in all, though, I think it was the right thing to do.”

In trading Holiday and getting two lottery picks, the Sixers solved some salary-cap issues. Holiday is set to begin a four-year, $41 million contract next season.

The draft-day wrangling under Hinkie makes one wonder if high-priced players like Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner or Spencer Hawes could be on the move, too.

With Holiday off the books, the Sixers have approximately $35.3 million earmarked for salaries in 2013-14, not including the two first-round picks. If the cap is set at $58 to $60 million, the Sixers could have a little more wiggle room.

That also opens the door for the big question: What do the Sixers do with Andrew Bynum, the huge acquisition from last summer? The Sixers can offer Bynum a max deal or use him for a sign-and-trade. With Bynum and/or the 6-foot-10, 228-pound Noel in the frontcourt and first-round picks slated for next season, the youthful Sixers could be quite formidable.

Noel, who played just 24 games at the University of Kentucky in his only season at the school, was projected by most experts to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft for Cleveland. However, Noel may have slipped to No. 6 in the draft because he tore his ACL in February.

Noel will not be ready to play by opening night as he continues to recover from his ACL surgery.

The Sixers with another big man with bad knees?

However, Noel was named the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year by averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals in 32 minutes per game.

Meanwhile, it was assumed that Holiday was the player the Sixers were going to build around. The All-Star guard turned 23 just two weeks ago and had improved every season he has been in the NBA. The 2012-13 season was the quintessential breakout year that many predicted for Holiday. On opening night, Holiday signed a four-year contract extension, later, he earned his first All-Star berth and at age 22, he became the undisputed leader of the Sixers.

There’s more: Holiday was fourth in the NBA in assists with eight per game and 10th in minutes per game with nearly 38.

But Holiday needed help in the backcourt and with Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala departed for other teams last year, the Sixers didn’t give it to him. With no backup point guard to help with the minutes or to give Holiday a chance to move off the ball to the two-guard spot, the All-Star was second in the league with 3.7 turnovers per game and at the end of the season admitted he was fatigued.

Chalk it up to all those minutes, the demanding position of point guard and the added responsibility taken on as the team captain, and the breakout year came with a price for Holiday.

But in New Orleans, Holiday will be teamed in the backcourt with point guard Greivis Vasquez, who averaged 9.0 assists per game, as well as veteran guard Eric Gordon, who has averaged 18.0 points per game in his five years in the NBA.

As for the Sixers, the future is a little cloudy, though Hinkie hopes to change that.

“We will take the steps to be future focused,” Hinkie said.

Bryan Colangelo: 'Never a period of discomfort' with Sixers' bigs

Bryan Colangelo: 'Never a period of discomfort' with Sixers' bigs

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers on Friday unveiled their brand new, state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden, New Jersey (see story).

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, while speaking to media members at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, touched on a variety of topics. That included the team's surplus of big men, an issue that has been years in the making.  

One of the major questions surrounding the Sixers this offseason is how the team plans to utilize all three of its talented young big men in Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid. With Embiid finally healthy and on track to play this season, the Sixers have some tough decisions when it comes to balancing playing time as well as maximizing each player's potential.  

There have been rumors throughout the summer that Colangelo has been actively trying to shop either Noel or Okafor because of his discomfort with having three big men on the roster. His comments on Friday cleared up the situation. 

"We're excited for the season. We’re excited to have three, talented young players that can play that position," Colangelo said. "I said something this summer that was somewhat tongue and cheek that was taken so seriously and everybody hung on that one word that I would be uncomfortable going into the season or absolutely uncomfortable, it was literally overstated so many different times. It was never a period of discomfort, in fact, it's actually comfortable knowing we have that much talent there.

"The discomfort comes in trying to manage and maintain the happiness of three talented young players and that’s something that I think will work itself out."

This offseason has been one of transition for the Sixers. The days of "The Process" are long gone, and the Sixers seem poised to finally become a competitive franchise again after years of tanking.

During their summer overhaul, the Sixers brought in nine new players in hopes of forming a roster that features actual NBA-caliber players that could compete on a nightly basis. 

The team now not only features a surplus of bigs, but for the first time in a long time, a healthy balance of talent at each position. 

"The availability of those players is going to be an experiment all season long, not just with the bigs but with this entire team," Colangelo said. "We’ve got a good mix of talent and there's going to be a lot of competition at every position."

Colagelo expressed that under the former regime ran by Sam Hinkie, the Sixers lacked any sort of competitive drive and identity, something that he emphasized greatly when first put in charge. 

"We really have brought some things to this team that I think was sorely lacking," Colangelo said. "One was veteran leadership, whether it's Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless or bringing Elton Brand back. Playmaking ability between Jerryd Bayless, Sergio Rodriquez, Dario Saric coming into the mix, Ben Simmons — these are playmakers as much as they are good basketball players and scorers.

"So we’ve got a good mix of talent, but what we actually have will play itself out on the court in the coming months."

Sixers unveil new state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden

Sixers unveil new state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden

CAMDEN, N.J. — The doors to the Sixers' new training complex are officially opened, welcoming players into the 125,000-square-foot facility designed to be a one-stop basketball shop.
 
On Friday, the Sixers held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the sprawling building on South Front Street. After years of sharing space at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) on City Avenue, the organization now has its own dedicated facility. 
 
The complex was built with the intention of becoming a “year-round destination." The team has taken each aspect of daily life into consideration to provide players and staff with the resources they need on-hand in Camden.
 
“We’re trying to create a culture of not only excellence, but of maximum performance and trying to give them as many things that can help enhance that and get us there quicker,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said, also noting, “We’re not trying to trap them, but we’ve literally given them so many things that they may not want to leave.”
 
Players arrived at the complex ahead of the official opening, and many were there on Friday as tour groups circled through. Ben Simmons and Dario Saric were among those taking shots on the expansive courts, which account for 20,480 square feet. There are two full-size NBA courts and six additional baskets, comprised of over 16,000 pieces of maple wood athletic flooring.
 
With an extra emphasis on health and fitness, the weight room and training room are located next to each other right off the court. Their proximity fosters communication between the training staff with strength and conditioning coaches to easily discuss medical situations, whereas they were separated on different floors at the previous facility.
 
“It makes for a great place of what we call ‘continuity of care,’” head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson said on a tour of the building.
 
The Sixers now have increased medical resources available, including a dedicated physician’s room. They are implementing a videolink system which allows them to videoconference with players offsite and with other medical professionals. The team is also moving into ultrasound diagnostics to assess tendon health.
 
Right off the weight room are four hydrotherapy pools — cold water immersion, hot tub, warm lap pool/plunge pool and underwater treadmill that can go eight feet deep. The team took the height of the players into consideration when installing the pools. The jets on the hot tub, for example, were placed strategically for their wingspans. A video system in room allows the team to monitor pool work.
 
Following the goal of keeping resources in one place, a video room includes a dual-sided projection screen that enables players to review film directly from the court through glass walls.
 
The Sixers are honing in on nutrition and diet this season. They installed a full-service kitchen with customizable options based on the players’ needs versus a buffet meal. The organization found its head chef in an unconventional way — impressed by the food at the popular Philadelphia restaurant Parc, Colangelo inquired about its chefs and hired Jae Hee Cho.
 
And if the Sixers want to get some rest after a full day’s work, the team also may look into sleeping pods.
 
“I learned years ago they come here and it’s sort of the field of dreams. If you build it, they will come,” Brett Brown said. “You learn that they spend more time here because it’s convenient and they feel like they’re getting better. It’s a chance to bring families together. It’s a chance to bump into a teammate and go up and have lunch … get some shots together. The opportunity to have and form greater relationships exists here. I saw that in 2002 [with the Spurs] and I believe we’re going to see it again in 2016.”
 
The Sixers believe the new complex will set them apart from other teams around the NBA. Players consider more than just wins and losses when choosing teams in free agency, and this facility could give the Sixers an edge.
 
“In the business today, there’s so many things that you’re competing with with other franchises,” Colangelo said. “It’s become a little bit of an arm’s race, if you will, with respect to what player amenities you have, how you travel, what the practice facility is, what kind of creature comforts you give them. ... We’re doing everything possible to maximize performance not only of the players and the athletes, but also of the organization.”
 
The team incorporated aspects of its history in the complex. The reception desks at the main and player entrances are made of the wood from the basketball court of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game.
 
The Sixers will hold training camp in Stockton University next week and then will begin practicing at the complex for the rest of the season.
 
“Part of building a winning team, an elite team is culture,” managing general partner Josh Harris said. “Certainly you need talent, but how everyone works together and how people enjoy themselves, that’s one element. The second element is having them available to experience all of the capabilities we can bring, whether it be training, massage, health, wellness, diet, sleep, there’s a lot of things we can put in their hands.”