History says Sixers shouldn't trade for No. 1 pick

ap-nba-stern-daugherty.jpg

History says Sixers shouldn't trade for No. 1 pick

The NBA draft is quickly approaching and the rumor mill is heating up. For the Sixers, all the speculation is about whether the team will trade the No. 3 and/or the No. 10 picks in order to get the top overall pick.

The Sixers covet Andrew Wiggins from Kansas, the rumor grist suggests, and they will do anything to get him.

But history shows that the Sixers should probably sit tight and make their top picks. They have seven of them, after all, and there could be many suitors looking for one of those five second-round picks the team possesses.

So as all the wrangling, bluffing and posturing is passed around about physical results and trades, let’s look at how the Sixers messed up the No. 1 overall pick and let a Hall of Fame-caliber player walk away because the team’s owner was really bad with people skills.

The No. 1 overall pick has been traded exactly two times in NBA history. In 1993, the Magic drafted Chris Webber and shipped him to Golden State for Penny Hardaway and three future first-round picks. With those picks, Todd Fuller (1996), Vince Carter (1998) and Mike Miller (2000) were drafted.

Strangely, the 1998 pick was traded by the Magic to Washington. Washington traded the pick to Golden State and the Warriors selected Carter only to immediately trade him to Toronto. It was a convoluted mess. However, Carter is 37 and still playing. It seems like he’ll keep going forever.

The other time it happened was in 1986 and it involved the Sixers, a guy from La Salle named “Jellybean,” Moses Malone, Jeff Ruland and a deal that should still make Philadelphia basketball fans crumple in the corner in the fetal position while rocking back and forth, crying and whispering, “Brad Daugherty … Brad Daugherty.”

Here’s how it went down:

In October of 1979, the San Diego Clippers traded their first-round pick in 1986 to the Sixers for Joe “Jellybean” Bryant. So as the Bryant family with a 13-month-old baby named Kobe packed up for the move to sunny San Diego, it was as if the trade was for nothing. After all, at that time of the NBA’s history, seven years may as well have been a millennium. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson had yet to play a game in the NBA when the deal went down, and Michael Jordan was a junior in high school, still trying to prove that the coach at Laney High made a mistake in sending him to JV the year before.

By 1986, the Clippers moved to Los Angeles, where they were terrible. Even crazier, the NBA draft lottery was a matter of pulling a team name out of a hat. The Knicks, who finished the previous season with the worst record, got the No. 5 pick and the Celtics and Sixers, teams that appeared in the Eastern Conference Finals a couple months before the draft, got the top two picks.

Anyway, as fate would have it, Sixers owner Harold Katz invited the center Brad Daugherty to his house for an interview and a little hoops on the indoor court at his Main Line home. Apparently, Daugherty made such a poor impression on Katz that he traded the Sixers’ No. 1 overall pick to Cleveland for Roy Hinson.

That’s it. No future picks or cash or a handmade coupon for a free backrub. It was the No. 1 pick in the draft for Hinson.

Nothing else.

And since Hinson was on the way to Philly, Katz figured he ought to give the guy some space to spread his wings. So he traded three-time NBA MVP Malone, 1985 first-round pick Terry Catledge and a future first-round pick to Washington.

In return the Sixers got Ruland and Cliff Robinson. Robinson played two more NBA seasons before injuries forced him into retirement at age 28.

Ruland … well, yeah. He lasted five games in 1986 and 13 games in 1991. Then he was done.

Charles Barkley, in his second year with the Sixers, was excited about playing with Daugherty and Malone. Imagine the Sixers with Barkley, Malone, Daugherty, Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney. Barkley thought about it and he was ready for a bright future.

Then he had the rug pulled out from underneath him.

"I didn't realize the Sixers were a bonehead organization. We had the No. 1 pick in the [1986] draft, and they traded Brad Daugherty. I'll never forget that," Barkley said on Monday's edition of Philly Sports Talk. "I was excited to play with Brad Daugherty, and I still had Moses (Malone), who was my mentor -- I thought we would have been an instant contender in the Eastern Conference. But they traded the [No. 1] pick and ended up getting Roy Hinson, who was a solid player, and they traded Moses, so I got really screwed in that deal -- I lost a center who was still playing well, I thought I was going to get a young guy who Moses could mentor like he did me and we would be a contender for the next 10 years, but the Sixers were just stupid.

"Our team went downhill after that. That was unfortunate because I wanted to win here in Philadelphia."

Hinson played eight years in the NBA and averaged 14.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Daugherty also played eight seasons in the NBA and averaged a double-double -- 19 points and 10 rebounds. Barkley was gone in a whirlwind of controversy after the 1992 season and was able to pinpoint where it all went wrong in Philadelphia.

"The biggest mistake I probably made in my career: I should have got out of Philadelphia two years sooner because I went through three years where it was just brutal hearing about the rumors all the time," Barkley said on PST. "I was wasting my talent here because we didn't have a good team."

In other words, mess around with trading the top picks in the NBA draft at your own peril.

Sixers Mailbag: Draft De'Aaron Fox at 3, re-sign Ersan Ilyasova?

Sixers Mailbag: Draft De'Aaron Fox at 3, re-sign Ersan Ilyasova?

This week, I tweeted asking for questions for a Sixers mailbag, and the replies came pouring in. (Thanks, everyone!)

So we changed it up and in addition to answering the questions in these articles, we also discussed some of the topics on PST Extra. Read below and watch the video for the responses. If you tweeted a question with #CSNSixersMailbag and don’t see it on here, don't worry, there will be plenty more answered leading up to the draft and free agency.

The Sixers should explore all possibilities: trade up, trade down, trade the pick, draft third. The draft is a little funky this year in that there is not a clear-cut choice between picks three through five, and perhaps beyond that. If the Sixers like either player, there is the possibility they could simply select that player No. 3.

I’ve said before, I could see Fox going third. The speedy point guard met with the Sixers at the draft combine and outlined how he would fit playing off the ball with Ben Simmons and finding opportunities with Joel Embiid. Is three a stretch for him? I don’t think so (more on why here).

Monk has not been projected as high as Fox, so the option of trading down for him is viable. If the Sixers draft for need, however, his skill set is a fit at three. Monk is their best option for a shooter, and they are lacking shooters. It's not uncommon for a prospect to jump in the draft order based on what the team at that selection is looking for. Of course, if the Sixers trade down, they could pick up another piece (future pick, etc.) in addition to Monk in the deal, which always is worth considering.

Ersan Ilyasova was a great veteran presence for the Sixers this season before they traded him to the Hawks at the deadline. He boosted their offense and, more importantly, helped in Dario Saric’s development.

The Sixers and Ilyasova had different plans for the future, though, and understandably so. Ilyasova, who turned 30 this month, was going to be looking for a longer-term contract this offseason than the Sixers were interested in offering. Ilyasova wanted commitment and security at this point in his career; the Sixers wanted flexibility with their options in the frontcourt.

Ilyasova has put together a résumé that will attract teams in free agency this summer.

The case for Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox to the Sixers at No. 3

The case for Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox to the Sixers at No. 3

Over the weeks leading up to the 2017 NBA draft, we'll be making cases for the Sixers to draft several prospects. Our series will kick off with options at No. 3 (or trade downs) followed by second-round possibilities. The 2017 NBA draft will take place on June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

De'Aaron Fox
Position: PG
School: Kentucky
Height: 6-3
Weight: 170 pounds
Wingspan: 6-6½

The case for Fox
With maybe the deepest point guard class in recent draft history, Fox has been flying up draft boards in the past month while still staying relatively under the radar when compared with Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball — the expected top two picks in some order. He is electric on offense, and the Wildcats' guard posted double-figure points in all but four games during his lone collegiate season.

Against UCLA in the Sweet 16, Fox scored a career-high 39 and added four dimes. But perhaps more impressively, he shut down Ball, holding his 6-foot-6 counterpart to just 10 points on 4 of 10 shooting and one trey. And it wasn't just a one-time thing — two nights later, Fox held North Carolina guard Joel Berry II to just 11 points.

Although the Sixers have repeatedly said Ben Simmons will be their starting point guard at the beginning of next season (assuming the young star has no other setbacks), they will need someone to defend against opponents' quicker guards. With T.J. McConnell as the only true ballhandler currently on the roster, Fox certainly would be able to help spell Simmons at the point as well.

When experts began putting together their mock draft boards at the end of the college basketball season, Fox was frequently listed as a back-end lottery selection. Now, many have him as a potential top-five pick, and it's hard to see Fox slipping much past the Kings at No. 5 as Sacramento is a rebuilding team still in search of a point guard of their own.

The case against Fox
The biggest knock on Fox is his size. On Kentucky's website, he is listed at 187 pounds. But at the NBA draft combine, he measured in 17 pounds lighter. For scouts already concerned with his thin frame, this did little to reassure them that Fox will be able to hang with bigger guards at the next level — but maybe he fits as a complement to the 6-foot-11 Simmons.

Another worry is his three-point shooting. For the season, Fox shot just 24.9 percent from beyond the arc, attempting just fewer than two three-pointers per game. As a team in 2016-17, the Sixers took the seventh-most triples but ranked 25th out of 30 NBA teams from distance at 34 percent. With the Sixers in desperate need of consistent outside shooting, Fox would need to significantly improve that area of his game at the next level to help Brett Brown's team take the next step.

And, of course, as with most young ballhandlers (Fox is just 19), he has rough spots when leading the offense. Yes, Fox helped Kentucky to its fair share of highlight-reel alley-oops, yet he still struggled to command the Wildcats' offense at times and would occasionally get lost in pick-and-roll defense. Although his 5.8 assists per 40 minutes are a sign that he can eventually grow into the point guard that the Sixers need him to be, they could also use Fox to be an immediate impact player for a team that is finally trying to put all the pieces together.

Analysis
If the Sixers do in fact miss out on Fultz and Ball, Fox would certainly be a good consolation prize. He is incredibly quick with the ball in his hands and has the potential to improve defensively. In fact, our Amy Fadool lauded him as one of the most improved players in all of college basketball last season — he shot almost 48 percent from the field in Kentucky's final 14 games of the season.

There is no one on the Sixers' roster, as it stands, with a skill set comparable to Fox's, but it's still fair to question how he will handle some of the bigger and stronger point guards in the Eastern Conference, such as Kyrie Irving and John Wall, on both ends of the floor. With plenty of young budding talent in the fold, though, if Fox can immediately step in as a plus defender and a steady reserve ballhandler, he could definitely help the Sixers' core of Simmons, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric become even more lethal offensively.

A couple of weeks ago, I definitely viewed Fox as a stretch at No. 3. The more I think about it, however, he would not be an unreasonable selection for the Sixers. Yes, they also would likely have the option of Kansas' Josh Jackson or Duke's Jayson Tatum, as well as Fox's former teammate, Malik Monk, when they go on the clock, but Fox could fill a critical need. 

If the Sixers were somehow able to get the Kings to trade up to No. 3, Fox would be a great pick at No. 5 overall. And if Fultz or Ball were somehow available at No. 3, the Sixers would be hard-pressed to pass on either. Still, with so many talented point guards in this year's class, Fox is very much a worthy first-round candidate.