Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Sixers And Jerry Colangelo Should Trade For Guys Who Will Hurt Them In The Long Run

Time Tested, Philly Media Approved
So just as we're getting to the very end of The Process, Sixers GM Sam Hinkie's actual long-term plan to (a) put the team in a position to have actual assets to build a championship contender, rather than yet another middling lEastern team that deludes itself into conversations where they actually beat teams with Star Power, and (b) auditions the flotsam of the Association in the hopes that some of it will stick and be cheap and usable bench fodder for later, when the franchise is actually ready to compete...

Well, it's time to change horses, because the current team has a very bad regular season record and isn't winning games at the we're not really interested in winning games level that was previously tolerated. And we'll do that by bringing in a guy in his '70s (Jerry Colangelo), who has (shh!) never won a ring, and he'll bring in his cronies (Mike D'Antoni, last seen trying to turn the Old Kobe and Mercenaries Lakers into an 8 seconds or less team, because smart coaches know that scheme works regardless of talent). Then, the team will trade for veterans and stop being an embarrassment by winning at a 30% clip, rather than a 10% clip. Despite the fact that the fan base isn't embarrassed, because for the most part, the fan base understands what's being done, and is just hanging out until the meal is actually made.

Oh, and here's an aside: why is anyone happy, or even tolerating, the plain as day tampering that the NBA head office is said to have done here? If my GM is making the rest of the league unhappy, I don't need someone coming in and messing that up. I need the rest of the league to put on their big boy pants and stop crying to Daddy Silver about how the mean nerd made them feel bad about their trades later, and his Only Way To Build A Real Contender tankers make their marketing team work harder to fill their building. (World's smallest violin for you mooks, honestly.)

Seriously, does this make any sense to you? Well, then you must be your average sports talk radio host or guest, who have been chortling at how Arrogant Scam Hinkie is Finally Getting His, and will be run out of town on a rail any minute now, as soon as Papa Colangelo, who comes with NBA League approval, bends him over his knee and spanks. (It is best not to think about how happy it makes old sports talk radio people when a younger person, with an education and actual new ways of thinking, is laid low. At best, its depressing; at worst, nausea. Anyway, moving on.)

Now honestly, even if you're skeptical of Hinkie and think the Sixers management has been running a con and/or doing unpardonable karmic sins to the sport and art of basketball... does a mid-season GM move make any sense to you? It's not as if there are quality NBA free agents that are readily available to do better; there's a whole D-League filled with guys that the Sixers have been trotting in and out for years that prove that. Trading for some average older guys only really makes sense if you are convinced that they will add to a positive teaching environment, and you'd have to be some kind of saint among NBA players to talk yourself into that mission now. There's a reason why guys like Andrei Kirilenko never showed up after being dealt here, and why JaVale McGee wasn't long for the laundry, either, and Jason Thompson didn't exactly show up to camp with a Sixers tattoo, and Carl Landry isn't buying real estate and doing interviews about how great it is to work with the kids. Actual vets who can play want as much to do with a tear-down as they want with going back to college to play for free and the Love Of The Game. Love don't pay the bills, honey child, and hanging out with people who can't drink legally isn't exactly a fun post-game situation.

So let's call the Colangelo move for what it is. If he has no power and Hinkie is still pretty much free to do what he wants, he's a sop to saps, and some figurehead that the league foisted on naughty children who found a loophole and have exploited it for all that they are worth. If he's the new actual GM and Hinkie's a dead man walking, then he's the wrong guy in the wrong time, because we've all endured way too much for way too long to just go back to the 30-win treadmill that Ordinary GM work produces. If he's here to just reap the benefits of what Hinkie wrought, and take too much credit when Dario Saric and (please Lord) Joel Embiid actually take the court, that's nearly as big of a screwing to Hinkie as he's given to the rest of the NBA, not to mention those people who gave up high draft picks for the pyrite that is Michael Carter-Williams (not starting for the Bucks), Elfrid Payton (not anything close to a league average starting point guard for the Magic), and the moderate pain that is Nik Stauskas' rookie contract for, honest and for true, a first round pick swap from Sacremento so they could overpay Rajon Rondo. (Oh, and another note to Philly's detestable media: having the worst record assures you of very little in the lottery, or haven't you paid any attention to the last three years? Having the option to swap with the Kings in case of disaster is a very good thing. The kind of thing very good GMs do, in the midst of a teardown.)

If the current Sixers won a handful more games, and just have the worst record in the league rather than a comical single win, is Colangelo around to fill up talk radio airwaves from his assisted living home in Arizona? Does anyone really care if this team has one win right now or five? Is it so much better to watch guys that we know will never be any good, as opposed to guys who still have a chance?

People who want to hate on Hinkie remind me of people who agree to a surgery, then want to stop it halfway through the operation. Look at all the blood! The dude stabbed him a lot! He's a maniac! He doesn't know what he's doing! Stitch me back up and everything will be fine!

Um, no. The team that Hinkie took over had absolutely nothing, beyond draft picks, that was of any interest to anyone. (You might remember them as the team with Established NBA People like Billy King and Doug Collins, who went all-in for Andrew Bynum and his balsa wood knees.)

This team has a 19-year-old big man with a beautiful offensive game (Jahlil Okafor), a 25 year-old with elite three and D potential (Robert Covington), a 22 year-old big man with Defensive Player of the Year abilities (Nerlens Noel), the best player in the world who isn't in the NBA (Saric) and an absurd number of picks in next year's draft. It's also got a bunch of very athletic guys who aren't real players yet, but might be later. Along with all of the cap room you'd ever want, in a free agent class with actually useful players, and the very live lottery pick of the consensus best talent in the 2014 draft (Embiid). It might not all work together as presently constituted -- Noel and Okafor haven't exactly been Twin Towers -- but that's what trade bait is for. Whoever has the GM gig next year is going to have one of the better situations in the NBA, along with a primed to explode fan base, in a town where three of four franchises Have No Clue.

So who really cares how many wins the 2015-16 version has? And why would anyone with a shred of integrity want to run the guy who had the vision and patience to put that together? And if they blow it with a bunch of overpriced free agents with hollow numbers, who put them back on the .500ish treadmill while taking touches, money and focus away from the kids without hard ceilings?

Then all of this will have been for nothing, and the only truly intelligent plan executed by a Philadelphia pro team in the last five years will have been ruined in the last six months.

There's a reason why this is the worst sports media town in America, folks. (Seriously, it is. A relentless collection of guys who got stopped from going national or to New York, who then spend the rest of their lives taking it out on the world.) And they keep dragging every franchise down with them...

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