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.

Best of NBA: James Harden's 12th triple-double paces Rockets' rout of Nets

Best of NBA: James Harden's 12th triple-double paces Rockets' rout of Nets

NEW YORK -- James Harden had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in his 12th triple-double of the season and the Houston Rockets easily ended their first losing streak of the season by beating the Brooklyn Nets 137-112 on Sunday night.

Held to 105 points in losses to Minnesota and Memphis, the Rockets bounced back with 104 after three quarters and handed the Nets their 10th straight loss.

Eric Gordon led the Rockets with 24 points and Trevor Ariza added 23. Houston made 21 3-pointers and had five players with at least 16 points.

Houston shot just 40.8 percent during its two losses, well below its 46.8 season average, while being held nearly 10 points below its season scoring average. But the Rockets had no trouble bouncing back against the Nets, who allow an NBA-worst 114.3 per game (see full recap).

DeRozan leads Raptors past Knicks
TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, Norman Powell added 21 and the Toronto Raptors used a dominant third quarter to beat the New York Knicks 116-101 on Sunday.

DeRozan also had five rebounds and five assists before coming out late in the third quarter.

The Raptors improved to 27-13, taking the lead for good late in the first quarter. They led by 38 points in the third in winning their third straight game overall and fifth in a row against the Knicks.

DeMarre Carroll added 20 points, and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 16 rebounds.

Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 18 points, Justin Holiday had 17, and Derrick Rose added 16. The Knicks are 2-10 in their last 12 to drop to 18-23 (see full recap).

Hawks stay hot by beating Bucks    
ATLANTA -- Kent Bazemore scored 24 points, Mike Dunleavy added 20 and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-98 on Sunday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points and was a tough matchup in the paint for Milwaukee, which dropped 2 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Hawks in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta has won eight of nine. The Bucks have dropped three of five.

Dunleavy, in his second game since arriving in a trade last week with Cleveland, had his first 20-point performance since a first-round playoff game for Chicago on April 30, 2015.

Antetokounmpo has scored at least 30 points in eight games in a breakout season (see full recap)

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz keep on scoring

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz keep on scoring

The Sixers' run of five wins in six games means they have only the fourth-worst record in the league, but that still means Philly is a top contender for a top pick. Add that to the Lakers' pick that will likely be heading to Philly this summer and the Sixers have a chance to be making two high lottery picks this June.

So let's take a look at how some of the players in the conversation for this June's draft are playing in college.

Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA (6-6/190)
Week by week, it seems like the obvious move to lead off with Ball. The freshman point guard is averaging 14.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.8 steals and even 0.9 blocks a game. He's shooting lights out (53 percent from the field and 43 percent from three) and has shown no signs of letting up.

This week was an example of the different forms his game can take. In a 104-89 win at Colorado on Thursday, Ball shot the ball just six times, but made three of those attempts (two from beyond the arc) and dished out eight assists. His 11 points were the fewest he had scored in nearly a month.

But then he had to take on the offensive burden against a pesky Utah squad. He still dished out eight assists, but he took 12 shots and efficiently made seven of them. He was 3 for 7 from three and also had six rebounds. Perhaps most impressive was his five steals, a career-high for the well-rounded guard. And better yet, his first 40-minute performance was key to an 83-82 win on the road.

Markelle Fultz, guard, Washington (6-4/195)
With each passing game, it looks more and more likely that Washington will not make the NCAA Tournament. Like with Ben Simmons last season, that means the player most tout as the No. 1 player, Fultz, will not get to participate in March Madness, a true shame. It'd be different if Fultz was underachieving like the Huskies as a whole, but that's simply not the case.

Take Saturday for instance. Washington lost to a middling Pac 12 squad (Stanford) and fell to 1-4 in conference. The team only scored 69 points and shot 38.5 percent from the field, 7 for 26 from three. Yet Fultz's stat line looks as if it had to come from the winning squad's top player. In 37 minutes, he scored 34 points, nearly half his team's total, on 12 for 23 shooting, four threes, 6 for 7 free throw shooting.

It's not like his non-shooting stats were any worse. He had seven boards, three assists, two steals and two blocks. His jumper is smooth (go to the 1:10 mark of the game highlights to see him hit from Curry range) and he can battle inside for boards. It's disappointing that he likely won't play meaningful postseason games this year, but he's a delight to watch regardless of the stakes.

Lauri Markkanen, forward, Arizona (7-0/225)
This is it from the Pac 12, I swear! But the West Coast has been arguably the best coast this year in terms of some of the best prospects (I didn't even put Ivan Rabb on here, but he's shown up with some big games as well). Markkanen's last two games made it imperative that the Finnish forward was included on this list.

Markkanen appears to be the ideal stretch four. Just a freshman, he has scored 50 points in 52 minutes over his last two games, two wins for the Wildcats, including 18 for 30 shooting combined in wins against Colorado last Saturday and Arizona State on Thursday. Even better, he's more than found his mark from three, making 8 of 11 from deep in those games and has gobbled up 14 rebounds as well. His 30 points against Arizona State were a career-high and another reason why he's a top-10 prospect.

Jayson Tatum, forward, Duke (6-8/204)
Not every prospect has had a great week. Tatum played admirably in a loss to No. 9 Florida State on Tuesday, scoring 21 points on 17 shots and made 3 of 6 from three. But the freshman wing was a large part of Duke's second straight loss in a road clash with Louisville on Saturday.

Dealing with foul trouble, he played just 31 minutes. He is counted on as a top scoring option for the Blue Devils, right there with the much-beleaguered Grayson Allen and sophomore Luke Kennard. However, he wasn't a threat offensively Saturday, going 3 for 11 and missing his only three. He redeemed himself somewhat with a 5 for 6 day at the free throw line, but it wasn't enough to bring Duke back in a 78-69 loss.

Josh Jackson, guard/forward, Kansas (6-8/203)
After Baylor lost to begin the week, Kansas seems all but assured to be the new No. 1 when the polls come out Monday. The freshman Jackson doesn't necessarily lead the Jayhawks — he has senior point guard Frank Mason III to rely on for that — but he is still a threat on both ends. His shooting is still a concern as he is just 25 percent from the three-point line and 57 percent from the free throw line, but he does everything else to make scouts excited about the freshman wing.

Facing Oklahoma State on Saturday, Jackson was one of three Jayhawks to score at least 20 (he finished with exactly that) and was at the free throw line more often than OSU as a team, shooting 17 free throws to the Cowboys' 14 attempts. A 6-foot-8 forward that plays every bit like a guard can often do that. He made just 10 of those freebies and was 5 for 13 from the field, but he had 11 rebounds and four steals, not to mention two blocks, making him a double threat, offensively and defensively. 

Quick Hits

Malik Monk, guard, Kentucky (6-4/185)
Twenty-four points on 8 for 14 shooting, 4 for 8 from three, one rebound, six assists, and one block in a 92-72 win over Auburn.

Jonathan Isaac, forward, Florida St. (6-11/205)
Seventeen points on 6 for 11 shooting, 2 for 5 from three, 12 rebounds, two assists, three steals and four fouls in a 96-83 loss to No. 11 North Carolina.

OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana (6-8/235)
Eleven points on 4 for 8 shooting, 0 for 2 from three, three rebounds, two assists, seven steals (!), and one block in a 76-57 win over Rutgers.

Jaron Blossomgame, forward, Clemson (6-7/214)
Twenty-two points on 10 for 14 shooting, six rebounds, two assists, one block and two turnovers in a 77-73 loss to No. 19 Virginia.