Let's address the obvious when discussing what the Philadelphia 76ers did on Thursday: that team is going to be really, really bad next season. Possibly even Bobcats bad. (To recap: the Sixers traded Jrue Holiday, a 23-year-old All-Star, to the Pelicans for Nerlens Noel and a protected 2014 first-round pick. Philly also picked Michael Carter-Williams at No. 11)
This is a Sixers squad that went 34-48 with Holiday playing almost 3,000 minutes. Take that away and replace it with a rookie -- Michael Carter-Williams, specifically -- and they're losing some of those wins. With Holiday gone, new general manager Sam Hinkie might try to find new homes for other veteran contracts like Jason Richardson and maybe even Thaddeus Young. That would mean more losses. Spencer Hawes, I repeat Spencer Hawes, is currently on track to again be the opening day starting center and that's obviously not good for wins. Oh, and the Sixers don't yet have a head coach. We'll see which way the front office goes, but since Philly is now in full rebuild mode, one would expect a young coach, possibly a first-timer.
So, again, the Sixers are going to be bad. But that's good ... for a rebuilding team.
The 2014 NBA Draft is stacked like a plate of pancakes in Iowa. It's not just Andrew Wiggins, a surefire No. 1 pick who folks are comparing to Kevin Durant in terms of impact. After Wiggins, there's Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon (maybe the best prospect out of California in a generation), Andrew Harrison, Marcus Smart, Mitch McGary ... and the list goes on and on. There might be -- no lie -- a dozen guys who would have been in play for No. 1 in 2013.
The Sixers will be bad in 2013-14. Their pick in that draft will be high, maybe even No. 1. Plus, in that little Holiday deal, New Orleans sent their own 2014 first to Philly, protected only through the first five picks. The Pelicans picked No. 6 this year, just added Holiday and still have more cap space to work with.
In all likelihood, the Sixers will have their own very high pick in addition to a pick that lands anywhere from No. 6 to No. 15 or so. In the best draft in ages. That's a helluva way to reboot a franchise mired in the mid-rung of the East.
Noel and MCW have a lot of pressure on them as the new stars of the team, but help will be on its way because Hinkie will be on the hot seat to make it all pan out. The general public is already skeptical of him based on his background: he's a numbers guy, which some folks still see as being in opposition to the scout guys (which is inane by the way). Trading a young All-Star is really risk, but when you look at the long play, it's a no-brainer move. A Sixers team that lights this fuse will end up in a potentially much stronger position than one that continues to plug along tinkering with the edges.
The two players whose future I question now are Young and Evan Turner. Thad just turned 25, and is on a reasonable deal. Can Hinkie convince him things will be much better in a couple years if he hangs tight and develops his game? Turner is 24, and eligible for an extension. If he doesn't get it, he'll be a restricted free agent in 2014. What assets can Hinkie pick up for either? Or is it worth seeing how they mesh with MCW and Noel and eventually the two 2014 picks? That's a decision Hinkie will have to make in the coming weeks.
This almost certainly slams the door on the horrendous Year of Andrew Bynum in Philly, by the way: you're not taking a high-dollar risk on a center with an eye toward the future. So the mercurial big man will be changing teams again. We'll see who loads up the dice and gambles on his knee and spirit.