Philadelphia general manager Sam Hinkie has done little to hide the fact his 76ers are tanking. Starting when he traded away All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday this past offseason for first-round pick Nerlens Noel (who remains on the mend from a torn ACL) Hinkie has put up the most elaborate garage sale on the NBA's 30-team block.
Surely Hinkie is going to be one of the busier GMs bargaining with his neighbors leading up to the NBA trade deadline. The Sixers have a lot to work with and are hungry to get what they want. That's draft picks, and high ones at that.
First-round pick Michael Carter-Williams, the leader in the 2014 Rookie of the Year race, is on the very brief list of untouchables in Philly, and perhaps only the injured Noel joins him there. The second-worst team in the NBA hit the All-Star break with a 15-39 record, and there's sure to be more struggles ahead, especially if the Sixers deal one or more of their three coveted trade chips.
The 25-year-old trio
Forward Thaddeus Young, guard Evan Turner and center Spencer Hawes are the three most likely players to be moved for the Sixers, and maybe that's because they're the only intriguing talents left after the rookies.
Each of the 25-year-olds has a unique situation that must be solved if Hinkie wants to move them.
Young, a 6'9, 230 hybrid forward, is having his best season yet. The 25-year-old is averaging 17.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game and has become a more prolific three-point shooter this season. He could be a eyed by a team hoping to develop him further as a second option. Young is making $8.9 million this season, $9.4 million next and $10 million in 2015-16, the final year of his contract that includes an early-termination option.
Turner, a small forward, is averaging a career-high 17.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. But even though he's reportedly garnered interest from the San Antonio Spurs and Charlotte Bobcats, according to USA Today, Turner's contractual situation makes him more difficult to trade than Young. The 6'7 second overall pick from the 2010 draft will become a restricted free agent this summer, and other teams could be hesitant to trade for him when they can woo via free agency. The push to trade him makes it apparent that the Sixers might not match a lucrative contract offer this summer.
Similarly, Hawes is on the block and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Teams could view him as at least a half-year rental who can bring a dynamic look to an offense. He can spread the floor as a 7-footer or run the offense through the post. This season, he is averaging 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game while shooting 40.3 percent from deep.
So what does Philly covet?
Philadelphia sits more than $5 million below the salary cap floor of $52.8 million, meaning the Sixers could actually be a tad bit penalized for playing it cheap. That room, however, gives them the ability to take on more salaries than they ship out, and as Grantland's Zach Lowe gives as an example, they could deal Turner for the unused Bobcats guard Ben Gordon despite the salary differences.
But salaries and players aren't what the Sixers want. Their situation just makes it so that they can accept pretty much anything in return.
What they really want is draft picks. As Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, Philadelphia's asking price for any of its three trade chips is at least a first-round pick, and that could make a lot of teams apprehensive in moving forward with talks.
The 76ers currently are in line to pick second behind the Milwaukee Bucks if the lottery balls bounce with the odds, and they also have a first-rounder from the New Orleans Pelicans and three second-round selections for 2014. Those are probably with Carter-Williams in terms of untouchables, but with so many other teams having already traded first-rounders and the value of those picks so high as is, there won't be too many opportunities for Philadelphia to acquire more.