As the NBA Trade Deadline came and went, Philadelphia 76ers’ General Manager Bryan Colangelo made several significant moves. Gone are fan favorites Nerlens Noel and Ersan Ilyasova. In are four worthless second round picks.
Let’s take a look at each move and how they’ve impacted the franchise.
Nerlens Noel To Dallas
Sixers Get: Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson, “first-round pick” (top-18 protected in 2017, becomes two second rounders if pick does not convey).
Mavericks Get: Nerlens Noel
I think all things considered, this could actually turn out to be a pretty decent deal for the Sixers. They weren’t dealing from a position of strength when it came to Noel. Nerlens, set to be a restricted free agent this summer, was expected to command a pretty significant deal in the offseason. There wasn’t a great market for Noel, but I think the haul that the Sixers got in return was fair enough. There are two keys to this deal. The first is the the future first-rounder, which will not convey in 2017 because the Mavericks just aren’t good enough to get out of the lottery, plain and simple. The future protections on the pick aren’t yet announced as of this writing, but with Dirk close to retirement, I’d expect Dallas to remain in the bottom half of the West for at least the next two years, so I think there’s a decent chance that the Sixers could end up with, at minimum, a top-15 pick somewhere in the next few years.
That above where the thoughts I initially wrote when the trade was first reported.
And then came the lovely little nugget of information that if the pick doesn’t convey this season, the Sixers instead pick up two second round picks.
That’s an absolute garbage return.
Sam Hinkie picked up first round picks from teams just for agreeing to take on bad salaries from other clubs. Bryan Colangelo has a quality young player to deal away, and can’t even secure a future first. That’s just not acceptable.
If the Sixers couldn’t get some kind of quality return for Noel, they were better off hanging on to him and seeing how things played out in the offseason. There’s still the question of Joel Embiid’s health. Noel was also a restricted free agent, so the team had the ability (and money) to match any deal that they receive in the offseason.
The one silver lining is that dealing Noel put the Sixers in a position where they don’t have to deal Jahlil Okafor right away. Teams had been trying to pry Okafor away on the cheap, but now that the logjam at center has been cleared up a bit with Noel gone, the Sixers now have the luxury of holding on to Okafor and waiting for a better market to develop.
Okafor is under team control for a couple more years, and remains a good insurance policy for Joel Embiid, whose health may always be a lingering concern. With Noel out of the picture, Okafor will get a steady amount of playing time, and a chance to develop and increase his value.
The other pieces that came to Philadelphia in the deal were center Andrew Bogut, a salary dump who will be immediately waived, and Justin Anderson, a cheap wing player that could fit into the rotation as a guy that can come off of the bench, shoot a little and provide some defense.
Ersan Ilyasova To Atlanta
This was another move I was pretty disappointed in.
Ersan Ilyasova had been a very good fit on the Sixers since coming over in the Jerami Grant trade at the beginning of the season. He was a good compliment to Embiid as a stretch four, and his presence has had a positive impact on the development of Dario Saric.
And the Sixers gave him away for next to nothing (expiring contract of Tiago Splitter, two second-rounders).
The argument for this trade is that it frees up minutes for the ever-improving Saric, and with Ilyasova set to be a free agent, the Sixers would be unlikely to re-sign him.
I don’t think the team would have had a to break the bank to keep Ersan in the fold. A journeyman like Ilyasova isn’t going to command top dollar on the open market, and I think he could have returned here at a fairly reasonable price. Even if the team essentially flipped Saric to the starting lineup, and Ilyasova to the bench, the bench would have benefited greatly from Ilyasova and his skillset coming off of it.
The other impact of both is these deals is that the Sixers are officially tanking once again.
With two key pieces in their recent improved play, Noel and Ilyasova, out of the picture, and Embiid and Ben Simmons continued to be sidelined due to precautionary measures, the Sixers are once again putting themselves in position for a freefall in the standings during the latter part of the season to ensure their position in the lottery standings (which I’m all for).
But my goodness, I can’t say enough about how disappointed I am with Bryan Colangelo as General Manager.
In the last few days, Colangelo has given away two quality pieces for a handful of garbage picks with next to value, and (in the case of Ilyasova) undone the only decent move he’s made after being in the organization for over a year.
Remember the good old days when Sam Hinkie was in power and you never felt like the Sixers lost a single trade he made? Good times.
Now with Colangelo, you never feel like the Sixers win them.
Follow Denny Basens on Twitter, @DennyBasens