FanSince09's Lunch with Sixers CEO Adam Aron: A Troll's Remorse

FanSince09's Lunch with Sixers CEO Adam Aron: A Troll's Remorse

Special guest post by FanSince09

Back in February,  I decided I was fed up with Sixers CEO Adam Aron on Twitter, and launched into what would forever be known as "The Rant." (*) Angry Sixers fans praised me, the lamestream Sixers apologist media rushed to try to shoot holes in my arguments, but one thing was made clear by everyone: Adam Aron couldn't just ignore me. But for days, it seemed like he'd be content with just ignoring the issue.  There was no direct response to me,  even after another assault known as The Rant 2. (**)

(*) nobody calls it this
(**) nobody called it this

Fast forward to March 2nd. I was in Vegas fighting with a certain hotel's sports book because they wouldn't let me bet on how many games Hammels would lose in 2013 (***), when I got a very special twitter notification: @SixersCEOAdam is now following you. Within minutes, I got the DM: "You say you care about the Sixers. Why don't you join me for lunch one day in the next week or two and we can talk about your views in person"

(***) "All of them" is the safe bet

A few thoughts immediately raced through my mind. Is it a trap? Is a Philly sports team going to have me whacked? Then the trolls remorse set in. I was pretty vicious, I may have even legitimately hurt this guy's feelings. This sat heavily on my mind for the duration of my trip. Do I take him up on this offer? Do I break bread with a guy who I spent days viciously tearing apart? But then I realized that all of my doubts were stupid. You can't say no to a free lunch.

The meeting was set, and would go down in history as "The Summit."  For the first time, a Philly sports team was willing to sit down with the man who had established himself as the true voice of the fan base   I couldn't risk meeting Aron at the WFC, because that was his home turf.  In fact, I heard that they had one of those old style toilets like in the Godfather.   The meeting had to be on neutral ground, and I had just the place in mind.  

On March 20th, I found myself sitting on the 101 in Los Angeles in the worst traffic I'd ever experienced. Nobody had warned me that there was bad traffic in LA, and now here I was, late for my lunch with Adam Aron. Sure, this gave me some advantage. Adam was sweating,  would I show up? Was I an actual person? Was the entire Sixers fan base going to walk into the door? Was I just some a-hole who sucked at time management? (****)

(****) Yes

I walked into the restaurant 35 minutes late, but Adam was still there. Though he'd never seen a photo of me, he recognized me immediately. I was rocking my favorite ill shirt, along with my Mitchell and Ness Sixers throwback hoodie, and it was clear that stories of my swass preceded me. I greeted him formally.

"Sup, Ock?"

"You must be FanSince09."  

When getting a rich dude to buy you a free lunch, there are a lot of ways to play it.  You can order the most expensive thing on the menu, sure, but that's a rookie move. You could order the least expensive thing on the menu, or a salad, but then you risk insulting your host.  I had memorized the menu the night before. The moment I sat down, I ordered a turkey burger with sweet potato fries.  This was a pure power move that clearly impressed Adam. I was a man who knew exactly what he wanted. The turkey burger was awesome, too. Seasoned nicely without trying to make it taste like beef. The bun had the right amount of grill to it, and the sweet potato fries were crispy, but not too crispy. I completely housed that thing in about 10 minutes, washed down with a couple DCs. Totally satisfying lunch.

The end.

Oh right, the actual conversation. So anyway, for the next 45 minutes, we went over The Rant. Adam remembered all of it and then some. There was some refuting, some agreeing, some outright scolding. I learned a lot about Adam Aron. He knows what people are saying. He gets the anger and the frustration with the season. He claimed over and over that the goal was to build a winning team. We discussed the pros and cons of tanking, and he asked me what I'd do. I gave him all of my best ideas, and if the Sixers go on to build a championship team, you are welcome.

I didn't promise that I would change my tune or change my opinion, but what I did assure Adam is that ultimately, I wanted to see the Sixers build a winner. I wanted to see my fellow fans rally around the Sixers. The troll's remorse set back in. This guy reads every single tweet that is sent to him. He doesn't coordinate with the marketing department, he doesn't have a list of social media talking points, he's not working in tandem with the official Sixers social media team. This somewhat explains the disconnect there seems to be with the Sixers when it comes to social media, but it also made me realize how strange twitter can be. When you're not looking at someone face to face, you have a chance to go too far. I kept my rant based on basketball alone, but there are people who tweet at Adam every day with the worst personal attacks, threats and insults. When it's some "social media guru" running the account, they know it just comes with the territory and ignore it, but in the case of Adam Aron, he sees it all and takes it to heart (especially the threat from The Iron Sheik). If there was a lesson to be learned from all of this, it's to consider the target of future rants and realize that they do see it.

Our discussion continued all the way to the Staples Center, where Adam had secured some tickets to the Sixers-Clippers game for me. I told Adam what I expected from the Sixers that night: They would lose by less than 30. The Sixers went on to play like hot garbage while I located celebrities sitting court side -- Bruce Jenner looks like he drank from the wrong grail (*****) -- but sensing that I was in the stands, they were able to rally and only lose by 29.

(*****) Khloe looks less like Godzilla in person

Adam and I spoke again after the game, then parted ways. He said some things I agreed with, like the fact that there's no guarantee that tanking would help the team. He asked me if I really thought the fan base wanted to suffer through another 5 years of unwatchable basketball on the off chance that they would get the next Durant in the draft.  He also said some things I completely disagreed with, like Spencer Hawes being a somewhat OK basketball player. There was no epic changing of opinions, nobody's heart grew three sizes. While the team continues to stink, and the Sixers presence on Social Media continues to be an absolute disaster, I feel that Adam and I at least got a sense of where the other was coming from. He knew I'd continue to be the voice of are fanbase, while I knew he'd continue doing what he felt was best for the Sixers.

During the ride home, I thought about the night. Should I be easier on the Sixers? Should I be calmer on twitter? I don't know, and I still don't.

But one thing was completely obvious: that was an awesome turkey burger, and more teams need to buy me lunch.

*

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Boogie Wonderland: A DeMarcus Cousins/pick swap Sixers FAQ

Boogie Wonderland: A DeMarcus Cousins/pick swap Sixers FAQ

An otherwise relatively unremarkable All-Star Weekend in New Orleans was capped last night with news that rocked the basketball world: DeMarcus Cousins need not catch his plane back to Sacramento, as the All-NBA center and Kings franchise malcontent would be sticking around with the Pelicans. Vivek Ranadive and Vlade Divac had just dealt Sactown's three-time All-Star to the Big Easy for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, the Pels' 2017 first-rounder (top-three protected) and the Sixers' 2019 second-round pick.

The league-wide fallout from this deal is of course considerable, and perhaps affects no team besides the two directly involved as much as the Philadelphia 76ers. What does this mean across the board, and for our considerations specifically? Let's Boogie:

So, like ... why?
The biggest question any fan of any team has regarding the DeMarcus Cousins trade is simply how the hell it could've happened. As a talent, DeMarcus Cousins is absolutely transcendent. At least until our guy JoJo becomes fully weaponized, it's hard to imagine a big man with a more complete offensive game — he's an elite post player (28 points a game, 12 in the paint alone), a clever and willing playmaker (five assists a game), and as of this season, also a knockdown outside shooter (35% from deep). He's an improving defender and as imposing a late-game threat as an opposing team could hope to avoid, and at 26 years old, he's only just entered his prime. If he isn't a top-ten player in the NBA right now, he'll do until the top-ten player gets here.

And yet, he just got traded for a protected first-round pick, a 23 year-old-rookie averaging under 10 points (and <40% shooting), an early-career journeyman guard and a combo ball-hog the Kings already said goodbye to four years earlier. It's as stunningly minimal a return for an All-World frontcourt talent as a team has gotten since the Lakers pissed off the rest of the Association by stealing Pau Gasol before the trade deadline in 2008. And while it's shocking that the Kings accepted such an offer for such a generational talent — especially after publicly and privately insisting they intended to hold on to DMC — it's even more surprising that no other team offered a better package first.

Of course, it's not as simple as it looks on paper. The Kings had a number of factors working against them in dealing Cousins — the two biggest being that Cousins had apparently refused to sign an extension with whatever team dealt for him (with his contract expiring in summer 2018), and that it seems like no good teams wanted to roll the dice on adding Cousins for a post-season run. The teams that were reported as being in on the DMC sweepstakes — the Lakers, Pelicans and Suns — were all well under .500, willing to gut their roster for the kind of blockbuster deal that the Celtics and Wizards of the world were apparently unwilling to pull the trigger on.

Why would that be? Well, as anyone's paid attention to DeMarcus' career since he was drafted three spots after Evan Turner in 2010 knows, Cousins' elite talent comes with a price. At times a locker-room bully and an on-court timebomb, Cousins has proven exceptionally difficult to build around — though it's hardly a challenge the Kings have risen to, whiffing on draft picks all around him and making perplexing deals (like the Stauskas deal the Sixers directly benefited from — more on that later) that have short-changed the team's future and not even particularly improved the present.

Whether the Kings put DMC in an impossible situation or if DMC made the situation impossible for the Kings on his own has been the subject of extended unsolvable debate for some time now, but most industry insiders agreed the situation was becoming untenable. And with the Kings owing a first-round pick to the Bulls this year if their draft slot fell outside the top 10 — they entered the All-Star Break at No. 11 — but only owing a second-rounder if the pick didn't transfer this year, they had added incentive to get worse quicker.

Does any of that explain how they couldn't get an offer even a little better than the odds-and-ends package they ended up getting for a player of Cousins' game-changing caliber? Maybe not. But this is the Kings, and as the Sixers know better than anyone, they aren't always the smartest organization when it comes to maximizing their assets. So, on that topic:

How does this change our pick swap situation?
As you may recall, the 76ers once traded the rights to Arturas Gudaitis and Luka Mitrovic to Sacramento for Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, the rights to swap first-round picks in 2016 and 2017, and an unprotected first-round pick in 2019. Since last night, many pundits have asserted that the Sixers got a greater haul in that deal — which, of course, was mostly about taking on the contracts of Landry and Thompson, in a cap-purge of misguided Sacramento urgency — than the Kings got for dealing one of the best players in basketball.

It's certainly arguable, especially now. As previously mentioned, the Kings currently have the league's 11th worst record at 24-33 — 2.5 games ahead of the Sixers at 21-35 — but without Cousins, the Kings are likely to plummet over the remainder of the season, as their offense has cratered all season when DeMarcus hasn't been on the court. (They did win without him in Boston a few nights ago, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them win three of their first four games or something without him, but there's just no replacing the production of a player like Cousins over an extended stretch.)

What's more, this is likely just the beginning of the dealing for Sacramento this February. Without Cousins, and without a suitable veteran replacement for him in return, the Kings are now officially in full rebuild mode, and reports say that the rest of their proven-ish veterans may follow Boogie out the door shortly. The Kings may not win more than a half-dozen games the rest of the season, which would likely place their draft slot in the 5-7 range. It's doubtful the Sixers will finish in a much lower range than that, so the swap up still might not mean a ton — but, if the Kings jumped into the top three, we'd jump along with them, and maximizing the chance of doing that is what #pickswap was always about.

And then, 2019. The Kings are rebuilding on the fly here, with zero proven blue-chip players to their name, and to pull off a successful impromptu rebuild can often take three or four years — even if you do it right, which you should have no faith in the Kings' ability to pull off. To have a first-round pick from such a team — one without the slightest hint of protection on it — is basically to have Google stock at the turn of the millennium. It's a home-run asset, and could easily prove the key to a blockbuster deal that helps puts everything together for our roster, or just an ace in the whole in case we need a talent influx in two years' time.

The Stauskas trade is really the gift that keeps giving for the Sixers — even if Stauskas himself never contributes to a good Sixers team, which he still very well might — and assurance that the legacy of Our Once and Always Dark Lord continues to live on past the front office's current tomfoolery. And speaking of that ...

What effect might this have on the Jahlil Okafor market?
Well, if they have Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins already, it seems highly unlikely that the New Orleans Pelicans will also have a need for the services of one Jahlil Okafor — particularly not at the cost of a first-round pick that they now can't deal for a number of years. If that leaves them out of the running, along with the Blazers and Nuggets, the Sixers may be quickly finding league-wide demand to be at a minimum for their ill-fitting big man.

However, Okafor may have his suitors yet. The Celtics and Bulls are reportedly still interested  in the specifically skilled big man, and while the Cousins trade does likely remove the Pelicans from the equation here, it does create a post-scoring void in Sacramento. A deal that sent plateaued Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore to Philly for Jah might end up making sense for both sides. If the Colangelo’s are so motivated, they can likely find somewhere to still move our semi-stud sophomore.

Will we still get a first-rounder for Okafor? That seems less clear — as swimming as Boston is in first-rounders, Danny Ainge is notoriously tight with his draft futures, and if he didn't want to trump that subpar New Orleans offer for Cousins, it's hard to imagine he'll be particularly motivated to leverage much for Okafor. It's more likely we'll have to content ourselves with the return of another prospect whose shine has already started to dull a little — a McLemore or James Young or Denzel Valentine or someone similarly unproven that we'll just have to hope ends up a better fit in Philly.

Even if Jah's trade market stagnates from here, though, this trade is a near-unqualified win for the Sixers — just further proof of what incredible foresight Hinkie had in making the Stauskas trade two summers ago, and of how much smarter Philly's been in executing their rebuild than nearly any other team in their position. The Pelicans still need to work through how to make a team built around two skilled, smart inside-out bigs work before free agency threatens to split them up, but all the Sixers have to figure out is how not to squander the goldmine of assets they're sitting on. Let's hope the Colangelo’s are up to the considerable task.

Sixers Twitter rejoices in the Kings' pick swap after DeMarcus Cousins deal

Sixers Twitter rejoices in the Kings' pick swap after DeMarcus Cousins deal

All hail the pick swap.

When word got out that the Sacramento Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans, Sixers fans on Twitter rejoiced.

On July 10, 2015, the Sixers traded away the rights to Artūras Gudaitis and Luka Mitrović, and, in return, received an unprotected 2019 first round pick, Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson and the right to swap first-round selections in the 2016 and 2017 drafts.

The Cousins move appears to significantly weaken the Kings, who are 24-33 and just 2.5 games better than the Sixers, so the pick swap looks healthier than ever.

But, for now, enjoy some samplings of Sixers Twitter from after the trade.

Here are some of the best tweets.