Things have been weird in Sixerland for quite a while now. But they’ve been pretty consistent too, in their way. GM Sam Hinkie has established a pattern. Trade, trade, trade for draft picks, mostly second-round picks. This, we’re to infer, is part of the Grand Plan. And Brett Brown says that in three to five years, we’ll have us an outstanding 76ers team. Wells Fargo Center will be filled with screaming fans as the Sixers reach the promised land.
The Plan seems to be not only to acquire future draft picks – mostly second round – but also to unload any player at or suspiciously close to veteran status. The pattern of this part of the Plan has been pretty well completed with the departure of the likes of Dorrell Wright, Damien Wilkins, Nick Young, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen, and Thaddeus Young. I’m probably missing someone, but it’s clear what the boss does not want – players with experience.
This eventful week has not only seen a great-looking win followed by a really horrid-looking loss, it has also featured the rumor of a potential trade of Tony Wroten to the Los Angeles Clippers. I knew Tony was getting too good. He was looking suspiciously like a guy who could score like a star and do so with the game on the line. With the trade deadline coming, this has to be scary to Hinkie, who reacted to last season’s 4-2 western road trip by allowing the rumor mill to get going full throttle with stories of the impending departures of Turner, Allen and Hawes. As soon as that happened, Great Losing Streak I of 2014 began, during which the trade of those guys happened. Look out, because the New York Knicks’ won-loss record is now slightly worse than that of the Sixers. Can Wroten survive this as a Sixer?
Now comes the Kirilenko trade fiasco. Bob Ford of the Inquirer reports that Sam Hinkie has not enamored himself with the NBA’s other head guys. The word is that he reneged on a side agreement with Andrei Kirilenko that would have had the Sixers waiving him and permitting the 13-year veteran to sign with a team he’d like to join, for less money than his contract would have required. All the signs pointed to Hinkie’s observance of the handshake deal – until he didn’t. Maybe there never was one. Maybe everyone just assumed that Hinkie would follow his established pattern. I’ve been wondering what’s going on with Kirilenko, though I never believed we’d ever see him in a Sixers uniform. After all, another part of the Grand Plan has been to acquire established veteran players to pump up the payroll and then cut them loose without so much as a press conference with the new player’s jersey.
So what’s going on here? Now the Sixers are suspending Kirilenko for not reporting. Brett Brown said he was looking forward to having Kirilenko on the team. What? Why? Hinkie doesn’t want players. He wants “assets.”
It’s interesting to look at NBA salaries now, in view of the Sixers’ current Grand Plan tank mode. Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks makes approximately $22.5 million. The entire Sixers’ roster makes approximately $30 million. That’s interesting in itself. But wait – let’s subtract from that number the salaries of players who are not playing now, namely those of Joel Embiid, Kirilenko, and Jason Richardson. The aggregate salaries of then amounts to a grand total of $15,656,214. It turns out that the Sixers could trade all their guys for Carmelo Anthony and would still have to throw in contracts totaling about $7 million to even up the deal. Alice in Sixersland.
Don’t say it – I know. I just don’t get it. The Grand Plan calls for stockpiling draft picks and clearing cap room so that the Sixers will load up with great young players and some choice free agents. Then a championship will be just a couple years away. No more mediocrity.
The problem is that we don’t know what the end of the player development road looks like. No one does. And I’ve heard multiple NBA commentators opine that no good self-respecting free agent is going to want to come to Philadelphia. How can they know that? In the last couple seasons, they stop in Philadelphia only long enough to change planes.