Sixers Thoughts Heading Into The Draft


1) If Exum is the pick, RELAX

The NBA Draft is tonight.  After the season opener the trade deadline, the lottery selection and the draft were the only two days Sixers fans had circled on their calendar.  And for weeks now Sixers fans have just assumed that Wiggins was going be there at 3 after the Cavs took Embiid and the Bucks selected Parker.  Things changed after Embiid went under the knife.  Now Parker and Embiid are all but guaranteed to go 1/2 in some order.  After Parker proudly announced today that he had a promise from the Bucks he wouldn’t go below two there is little doubt who the first two picks will be now.  What this means for the Sixers is they’ll have to choose between the soft boned Embiid and the Australian import Dante Exum, whose game film is harder to find in the information age than my 1997 Radnor Rec League run to the title when America’s Funniest Home Videos was the closest thing we had to YouTube.

If Exum is the selection tonight his welcome to Philadelphia may be rivaled only by McNabb’s after Reid selected him over Ricky Williams despite the petition former Mayor and Governor Ed Rendell had going around Philadelphia.  Lets try not to have a repeat tonight Philadelphia.  McNabb worked out pretty well.  Exum is 18 years old and has been at the top of the draft boards all year.  He hasn’t made some meteoric rise since the combine or anything.  The chosen few that have seen him play have raved about him. So……..

Don’t Be Disappointed If The Pick Is Exum.

Does Sam Hinkie strike you as the kind of guy to make any decision without having all of the possible info?  I don’t know him, nor have I ever laid eyes on him, but I can assure you he isn’t going pull a Richie Kotite and base his analysis off an 8X10 glossy of Exum.

Here’s more Exum info.

Here’s Chad Ford (who knows more than any dingus talking on Philly radio) gushing to Bill Simmons about Exum and his potential.

And here (via DraftExpress) he is a year ago going against Team USA in the U19 games.  He’s going against Marcus Smart, Elfrid Payton, and Aaron Gordon among others.

Finally here he is at the Nike Hoop Summit last year against the same Team USA competition.

Last thing to keep in mind, Exum was born in 1995.  That means he was born after Friends debuted, after The Lion King was released, and after every kid like myself was peddling lemonade on a street corner to buy a Playstation.

2) Watch for the Sixers to acquire the 7th or 8th pick

The two teams currently selecting 7th and 8th are the Lakers and Kings.  The Lakers just endured there worst season in franchise history since  becoming the Los Angeles Lakers.  They had a couple abysmal seasons as the Minneapolis Lakers, but never have they had a worse win percentage than this past season.  This will only be the 8th time since the Lakers moved to Los Angeles in 1960 that they have won fewer than 40 games in a season.

With Kobe Bryant re-upping for two more years the Lakers are going want to make one last run with Bryant and his underbite at the helm.  Unfortunately for the Lakers when Bryant signed his new contract he pigged out on the Lakers available cap space.  Bryant will earn $23,500,000 this coming season despite playing only 6 games last year.  On top of Bryant’s preposterous contract the Lakers owe another $9,701,000 to Steve Nash’s NBA carcass, and they are on the hook for Bob Sacre’s $915,243.  They also owe Kendall Marshall $915,243 next season, however his salary isn’t guaranteed. So without counting Marshall that’s a total of $34,116,243 in guaranteed salary for next season.  The Lakers’ salary obligations don’t end there though.  All first round picks require a cap hold, and the cap hold for the 7th pick this year is $2,497,800.  That brings the Lakers salary obligations to $36,614,043.

That gives the Lakers four players on roster heading into the off season, which means they will have to take a roster charge into account.  Think of a roster charge like this, when you and your friends conduct your fantasy football draft on ESPN and you have 10 dollars left for 3 roster spots ESPN doesn’t allow you to spend all 10 on one player and fill the remaining two spots off the waiver wire.  You can only spend 8 since ESPN requires you to spend a minimum of a dollar to fill the remaining roster spots.  Same goes for the NBA and free agency.  If you only have 4 players on roster (and are below the cap) like the Lakers the league requires you to set aside the rookie minimum salary for the remaining 8 roster spots since the league requires a minimum of 12 players on roster.  That minimum rookie charge for the 2014/2015 season is $507,336.  Since the Lakers have 8 open roster spots that means they have to shave another $4,058,688 off their available salary cap space.  That brings the Lakers total cap space to $21,612,026.  Not as much as we all initially thought they would have is it?

If the Lakers are to have any shot at bringing in a marquee free agent like Anthony or James they are going need to clear more cap space because unless Mitch Kupcheck can perform inception on James or Anthony they aren’t going settle for a salary of 10 million per year and the opportunity to play Bob Sacre and a one-legged Bryant who still believes he can score 30 every night.

What the Lakers would love is for Nash to retire, but there hasn’t been any indication of that happening.  It certainly could happen, but if Nash doesn’t decide to do the Lakers a solid the Lakers only avenue to free up considerably more cap space is by dumping Nash’s 10 million on a team with the cap space to not have to send a player back and isn’t trying to win next season.  The other option would be to get a player back for Nash that can stay on a basketball court next year.

The rub for the Lakers though is their only asset to entice someone to take Nash off their hands is the 7th overall pick.  They can’t deal their 2015 pick to anyone since it’s owed to the Suns.  The pick is only top 5 protected in 2015 and has protections all the way through 2018 meaning the next available first round pick the Lakers could trade is in 2019.

This is where the Sixers come in, because they have ample cap space to rent out and are realistic about where the team will be next year.  The Sixers have the 3rd most cap room (around 30 million) this off season, however the two teams ahead of them (Phoenix and Utah) both have restricted free agents (Bledsoe and Hayward) to worry about this off season.  Other teams with cap space to absorb Nash’s contract without having to send anything back (if I’m understanding the CBA correctly) include the Magic, Pistons, Bucks and Hornets.  The Hornets and Suns though look like they want to contend this upcoming season and taking on Nash would make that more difficult.  The Jazz already have the 5th and 23rd picks along with a host of previously drafted lottery picks.  The same could be said for the Magic who already own the 4th and 12th picks along with two years worth of prospects from rebuilding.  That leaves the Pistons who are a mystery since it’s unclear what Stan Van Gundy’s vision for the team is, the Bucks who are also a mystery at this point, and the Sixers who are content still collecting assets right now.  Again only listen to me if you believe I can decipher the rules of the CBA.

What the Lakers should do is accept their fate the next two years use the 7th pick on Randle, Smart, Embiid, or whoever falls to them and start the rebuild process.  The Lakers front office though sounds as organized as Romper Room at this point, so the notion of them picking the short term solution and handing over the 7th pick so that someone will take Nash off their books isn’t out of the question.

As for the Kings their situation and motivation is a little easier to explain.  Within minutes of the lottery ending for whatever reason the Kings decided to let the league know they didn’t want the 8th pick.  As Bill Simmons and other NBA people have explained the Kings new owner Vivek Ranadive wants to win.  Like, RIGHT NOW.  Adding another rookie doesn’t really help that cause, although in the long run maybe adding some stability at point guard would be a wise choice since the team currently employees DeMarcus Cousins, who as my friend Tanner said, has almost assuredly committed a felon against a teammate in practice.  Besides wanting to win now the Kings are flirting with paying the luxury tax after they convinced Rudy Gay to opt into the last year of his contract that will pay him 19 million dollars.  There’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d ever right.

Right now with all of their guaranteed contracts and the 8th pick the Kings’ total salary is around 73 million dollars.  An incredible number for a team that won 28 games last year.  Even the New York Knicks who won 37 games last year are in a better position financially.  What isn’t factored into the Kings total salary is the impending Isaiah Thomas extension.  Since the Kings are over the cap they can’t let Thomas walk and go attempt to sign Kyle Lowry.  And if they do bring back Thomas at a salary of 10 million a year the Kings will now find themselves paying the luxury tax when they’d be considered the 10th best team in the West at best.

The Kings could and I’m sure are trying to trade the 8th pick to acquire a veteran point guard.  Rondo has been discussed, but apparently the Celtics want more than the 8th pick for Rondo and have zero desire to take back any of the slop the Kings have on roster.

Once again the Sixers can come in and take on some of the bad contract buffet the Kings currently own in exchange for the 8th pick.  The Sixers could agree to take back some combination of Derrick Williams, Carl Landry, Jason Terry, Jason Thompson, and the 8th pick in exchange for Thad Young. If the Sixers are willing to be the Kings landfill and take back all four crap contracts the Kings could actually get under the cap and make a move in free agency.  Young would actually fit in well with the Kings since he doesn’t need to score or have the ball in his hands to be effective.  Presently the Kings don’t have anyone willing to do the dirty work that it takes to win.  Thad could be that guy for them.

Like the Lakers the Kings would probably be best served picking Smart, Gordon, Payton, or whoever and attempt to build a team instead of electing for the microwave option.  After seeing that the Kings are crowd-sourcing to aid their front office decisions I’d put them in the “Who the Fuck Knows” zone.  Should they sit tight and pick 8th, absolutely.  Can I see them not valuing the 8th pick properly and giving it away?  You bet.  I’m just happy I’m not a fan of either the Lakers or Kings because the thought of giving up a lottery pick in this deep draft for a quick fix is about as appetizing as a Coors Light Summer Brew.  At the very least I could see the Sixers switching spots with either team in exchange for cap relief or Thad Young.  In an eight player draft moving up 2 or 3 spots is huge for the Sixers.

3)  Expect the Sixers to look back, and ahead

Last year Hinkie added two members of the 2012 draft class in Tony Wroten and Royce White.  Both players weren’t highly thought of by the team that drafted them, and the Sixers accepted both (in two separate trades) in exchange for nothing.  During the draft and into the off season if a team wants to cut ties with their first round pick from 2011 or 2012 to free up space look for the Sixers to once again become the Ellis Island of cast off players.  It didn’t work out too badly last year either.  White was a disaster and never even saw a single regular season game as a Sixer, but Wroten looked like he could be your third guard moving forward.  Some players who might fit that mold this off season are Otto Porter, Ben McLemore, Tony Snell, Sergey Karasev, C.J. McCollum, Anthony Bennett, Thomas Robinson, Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, Harrison Barnes and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

The other move I’d expect the Sixers to make is acquire a 2015 first round pick.  Teams seem to have tunnel vision with this draft right now, which means they may much more willing to give up a first round pick next year.  The Sixers still owe a pick to Boston via Miami for the Arnett Moultrie clown show.  The pick is lottery protected next year, but it’d be nice if the Sixers got some insurance.  They also owe a pick to Orlando from that time they traded for a player to hang out on the bench for a season while he experimented with different hair styles and his bowling form.

4)  They won’t keep five 2nd Round picks

This is obvious.  I’m assuming they’ll use at least one, and could use some additional ones  on players to stash over in Europe.  There looks to be a fair number of Euro guys that you can stash this year.  The other option for the Sixers is to trade one of the second rounders away for a late first if a team is trying to clear the maximum amount of space on their roster.  Remember, all first round pick have a salary cap hold and count against the cap, second round picks do not until they have actually signed.

 

Remember, these are smart people in control of the Sixers.  They’re smarter than you, me, or Mike Misi-nevergonnashutup.

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