Trust the Process. That was the promise. And, I admit, I bought in. The thought of piling up four or five top three picks in a row seemed like as good an idea as any to deliver the Sixers from the island of mediocrity to the mountaintop that is an NBA title. I even secured my season tickets. Like a smart stock purchase, I was buying in low and was going to reap the rewards. Over the past few years, the seats have appreciated around 50% in cost, while the return has diminished.
In 2013, the Sixers hired Brett Brown, which seemed like an incredibly smart move. Brown sat side chair to one of the most successful coaches in the history of the league for almost a decade. Certainly, he would bring with him that the winning formula; all we needed, all we had to do was fill in the pieces. There were a few direct hits. Joel Embiid has established himself as one of the best players in the NBA when he wants to be. Ben Simmons, while still very green, has had moments where he dominates on both ends of the court. Noticeably, there were some wide right and wide left misses. Bad misses. Jahlil Okafor. Michael Carter Williams. Nerlens Noel. All have made a lucrative salary in this league. The return, however, does not match their individual, let alone combined, output. Markelle Fultz had both physical and physiological problems. Or did he? It seems he has had a miracle recovery down South and will end up being a serviceable player. Even so, for the number one pick in the draft, one could say he has underachieved. In fact, the players drafted out of the top ten seem to be having more success than the ones who were drafted higher: Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Kuzma, just to name a few.
The difference between the “haves and the “have nots” boils down to who gets drafted or acquired AFTER the lottery. They seldom get the glory, but they are usually the glue that keeps the pieces from ripping apart. They rarely score 40, but they are the ones who can hit a critical basket or make a stop on defense when the opposing team is making their run.
This current Sixers team has star power. What they sorely lack is the glue that will keep those glittery pieces together. They have gone in on a majority of their roster, which is top-heavy and tied up for the next four years at least. This strategy makes it far more difficult to assemble the smaller pieces that prevent a huge drop in talent when the starters leave the floor. In comparison, those Miami Heat teams that had the “Big Three” had names like Shane Battier, Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem, Rashard Lewis, and Mike Miller who could keep the game in reach when the stars left the floor. Whereas, when the Sixers starters leave the floor, we have names like Neto, Milton, Bolden, Pelle. If I can see this elephant on the court, I am sure Elton Brand can, too. Right?
They have little to no room for the next few years to make moves. So, if you are going to keep your top line intact, then you need to make the most of what is out there. This team today is not good enough to win a championship. People love to toss trade scenarios out there, but, the truth is, it is extremely hard to make a deal that works for both sides in the NBA. The money needs to line up as well as talent.
I looked at players who made sense, and it was extremely hard to find a way to make a trade work. For example, Devonte Graham was a second-round pick who will make an average of $1.5MM over the next two years; he can shoot the lights out and would be an ideal piece to a championship contender. Then I played GM and tried to use the money and talent to see what would work. I tried adding players for salary dump, etc. and there is nothing. It’s similar to many other players.
There is one player I would focus on and make it my mission to get this player on our roster. Many will not even know his name, but he is what this team sorely lacks. I’m talking about a dead-eye three-point shooter. He also happens to be an unrestricted free agent next year, so he is obtainable.
Davis Bertans is a 6″10 shooting forward, who is over 40% from the three-point line for his career. He makes $7MM this year. The Wizards will be getting offers, so you are going to have to make it worth their while.
The Sixers are in a “win now” mode, so giving up draft picks would not and should not be an issue.
- Sixers get:
- Davis Bertans
- Wizards get:
- Zahire Smith
- 2020 1st round pick (formerly OKC)
This is the trade that makes sense and gets them one step closer. Sometimes the difference is in the details.