Let’s not make this more complicated than it needs to be. The Philadelphia 76ers are absolutely loaded with young talent, assets and cap space. Barring anything extreme, there’s really only one way for them to go, and that’s up. GM Bryan Colangelo came out of hibernation on Saturday night when he sat in with longtime 76ers TV Broadcaster Marc Zumoff and his color analyst Alaa Abdelnaby.
While running through the list of assets at his disposal, Bryan mentioned the possibility of trading for a star player, saying “We may be one of the the only teams in the league that’s prepared, with the resources and assets, to make a large transaction for a star-level player.”
While true, this idea has the fa base divided. Those looking to speed up “The Process” love it, music to their ears. However to those who have been onboard since the start of the Hinkie regime, it is exactly what they were afraid of when he was pushed out, a short cut.
The Process finally churned out a star player, maybe two, with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons setting the foundation to go along with lottery picks Dario Saric, Nerlens Noel, Nik Stauskas, and Jahlil Okafor. Sam Hinkie found a few diamonds in the rough as well, with the likes of Robert Covington, Richaun Holmes and TJ McConnell. Add in the raw talent and athleticism of Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and the sharp shooting Furkann Korkmaz and you will have a hard time finding a team with a better young nucleus.
Arguments can be made for teams like the Timberwolves, Bucks, and Lakers, but the Sixers pull away from the pack when you factor in that Philadelphia has a total of 20 draft picks between the 2017 and 2020 drafts. No, this is not a typo. Twenty.Draft.Picks. Seven of them being 1st rounders plus this years pick swap with the Kings.
In a draft stocked with so much potential star power, to the point pundits have even compared it to the Lebron, Wade, Melo, Bosh, superdraft of 2003, the Sixers are primed to add two top tier talents. Finally the best player available approach should coincide with team need/fit because of the guard and wing depth this draft has to offer.
Would trading those picks for a Jimmy Butler, Paul George, or CJ McCollum be worth the risk? The risk of one or even both of those picks turning into better players than what was acquired? The risk of missing the next generational talent? This is why Bryan was brought in, to make these tough decisions, to turn assets into W’s.
For reasons already stated, it should be clear to Bryan that he does not “need” to do anything. He can sit back, turn his iPhone on airplane mode, and draft. You can pull a Vlade Divac on 19 of the 20 future picks as long as you nail one, and the Sixers will have a “big 3”. Use Okafor and/or Noel to move up a few spots in the draft to get your guy, need be. Use your cap space, Joel Embiid, and a world class practice facility to attract top tier free agents. There’s not much risk associated with this approach, it’s just Auto-pilot.
However Bryan Colangelo has never been known for his patience, for better or worse. But even if he chooses to speed things up, let the trades come to you. For a team looking to begin a rebuild by trading away their star player, circa 2013 Sixers, you have more to offer than any team in the league. Contrary to public perception, you have the leverage. There is no need whatsoever to make a bad trade, or to overpay, especially with this years picks, worth more than your typical 1st round pick.
Colangelo is reminded of the past regime on a nightly basis, as “Trust The Process” chants echo throughout the Wells Fargo Center. He has taken his subtle shots at Sam Hinkie’s “Process” from day one, and initially denied Embiid’s request to be announced as Joel “The Process” Embiid during pregame intros (which is a nod to the man who drafted and backed him from day 1). No doubt he wants to put his own stamp on the team to remove himself from Hinkie’s massive 7-foot-two-inch-plus-a-fro shadow. Hopefully he learned a thing or two from his overly aggressive trades he made while at the helm of the Toronto Raptors, because a bad trade is virtually the only way to derail this bandwagon.
There is no crystal ball to predict which option would play out best. If it was a given that Jerry Colangelo could use his USA Basketball reach to lure in a star free agent, trading our top picks(s) would not be necessary. The new CBA is both a pro and con for Philadelphia as they are able to offer more money and years to players they drafted, which will make it easier to keep top picks Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but that same concept will make it harder to pry stars away from their current teams in free agency.
While there may be some tough decisions ahead, the Sixers could have only dreamed of being in this situation 3 years ago. So sit back, relax, and Trust The Process.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports