by: Michael Conroy
As the new General Manager of the Philadelphia 76ers, Sam Hinkie was always going to explore ways to reinvent his roster. The flurry of activity in the waning hours of Thursday’s trade deadline was, in a way, just the dropping of a second shoe. Generally speaking, I’ve never been a big proponent of purging veterans as a precursor to a rebuild. In the NBA, colossal youth movements seldom turn out how they were planned. Most young players need to walk into an established culture and grow under veteran leadership. For this team, however, at this moment, The Sixers made the right call.
Evan Turner is not who we wanted him to be. At this point in his career, it’d be laughable for fans not to have arrived wholeheartedly at that conclusion. It’s equally comical and all the more frustrating that Turner hasn’t arrived there with us. Maybe some day he will, but if/when he does, it won’t be as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. What the Sixers received in their trade with Indiana is irrelevant. Sam Hinkie had assessed his team and decided to move on from a player who just never seemed to get it. For all of his physical ability, Evan Turner struggled mightily with his decision-making on the court. In a leadership role on a rebuilding team, he simply didn’t bring much to the table.
Turner seems like a nice enough guy. He takes care of himself in the media and off the court. He’s never been a distraction, but he seems to be more concerned with who he might still become than who he has firmly proven himself to be. The Sixers just couldn’t wait around any longer.
When the trade was announced that would send Spencer Hawes to Cleveland, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed. I’ve always had my issues with him as a player but it’s impossible to deny that a Center with Hawes’ skillset has value in the NBA. Earl Clark showed flashes as a Laker last season but few would consider him an asset to the Sixers. The two 2nd round draft picks are a nice consolation prize for what should have been a better deal.
The obvious elephant in the room in this situation is the long-term status of Thad Young, who may have been the Sixers’ most substantial trading chip. He’s a good player who consistently performs up to a certain set of standards. While many believe Thaddeus will be the catalyst for some draft night deal, I find that scenario a bit far-fetched. The draft class of 2014 is a hallowed one in the eyes of many team executives. If a first-round pick in this year’s draft wasn’t on the table at the deadline, I can’t see that changing by June 26th. Though Young has voiced his displeasure about the state of the franchise, he’s still under contract and, unlike his recently departed team mates, holds value for a rebuilding team.
And so, the Philadelphia 76ers have finally blown it up. Very little remains of the Doug Collins era. The continued development of Michael Carter-Williams and the upcoming draft are pivotal, but every young team needs veteran leadership. Sam Hinkie has decided that Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes were simply the wrong kind of veterans. The rebuild has just grown exponentially in scope. In the immediate future, a lot of terrible basketball awaits, but this franchise is undeniably back in motion. While it may get worse before getting any better, at least the 76ers might finally be moving towards better days.