Offseason In Review: Philadelphia 76ers

November 13 2013 at 9:04pm CST By Luke Adams

Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team’s offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.

Signings

Trades

  • Acquired the No. 6 pick in 2013 and a 2014 first-round pick (top-5 protected) from the Pelicans in exchange for Jrue Holiday and the No. 42 pick in 2013.
  • Acquired the No. 38 pick and the No. 54 pick in 2013 from the Wizards in exchange for the No. 35 pick in 2013.
  • Acquired the No. 43 pick in 2013 and the Rockets’ 2014 second-round pick from the Bucks in exchange for the No. 38 pick.
  • Acquired the Nets’ 2014 second-round pick from the Mavericks in exchange for the No. 43 pick in 2013.
  • Acquired Royce White, Furkan Aldemir and cash from the Rockets in exchange for a 2014 second-round pick (31-55 protected). White was subsequently waived.
  • Acquired Tony Wroten from the Grizzlies in exchange for a 2014 second-round pick (31-50 and 56-60 protected).

Waiver Claims

Draft Picks

  • Nerlens Noel (Round 1, 6th overall). Signed via rookie exception.
  • Michael Carter-Williams (Round 1, 11th overall). Signed via rookie exception.
  • Arsalan Kazemi (Round 2, 54th overall). Playing overseas.

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

For a team not expected to be remotely involved in the championship discussion in 2013/14, the Sixers have drawn a ton of attention over the last several months. That attention can be attributed to an offseason strategy that seemed to involve little effort to improve the roster for the short term or to pursue wins in the ’13/14 season.

Still, Philadelphia is far from the first team to undertake a full-scale rebuild. You could argue that perhaps no other club has so deliberately and egregiously put together such an underwhelming roster. But to me, the more interesting aspect of the Sixers’ offseason hasn’t been what they’ve done — it’s been how they’ve done it. I’ve already written extensively about the Sixers’ proximity to the minimum salary floor (they’re still well below it), and about their ability to remain an over-the-cap team despite a lack of team salary (they’ve since claimed that cap room). There are a few other factors related to the club’s summer moves that are worth unpacking though.

New GM Sam Hinkie and the Sixers made their first major strike of the offseason on draft night, sending Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans not only for a 2013 pick, which turned into Nerlens Noel, but for a 2014 first-rounder as well. Heading into the draft, Noel represented a logical target for a team that wasn’t ready to contend immediately. There’d be no pressure to rush him back, and failing to receive any short-term production from that top-five pick would likely ensure another high lottery pick in 2014.

Essentially, the Sixers achieved three things necessary for the rebuild in the blockbuster deal: Moving a veteran capable of helping the team in the short term (Holiday), acquiring a prospect with perhaps the highest upside in the 2013 class (Noel), and securing another potential lottery pick in a loaded 2014 draft (the Pelicans’ pick is top-five protected).

From that point on, the Sixers’ overall strategy was clear, but watching Hinkie and his staff make additional moves was still intriguing. The club made three more trades on draft night, ultimately turning the No. 35 pick this year into the No. 54 pick and two future second-rounders. Considering most of the players drafted in the 30s were college veterans expected to contribute immediately, it made sense for the Sixers to move down, allowing them to snag a player they could stash overseas while picking up a couple extra draft picks for their trouble.

When July got underway, the Sixers stayed out of free agency, but found other ways to add under-the-radar talent. In trades with the Rockets and Grizzlies, Philadelphia acquired young assets with upside (Royce White, Furkan Aldemir, and Tony Wroten) in exchanged for future second-round picks that will likely never change hands due to their heavy protection. Not all of those gambles will work out — White, for example, has already been released. But the cost was virtually nil, so if someone like Aldemir (who remains overseas) or Wroten develops into a reliable rotation player or more valuable chip, they’re essentially found money.

The Sixers were also one of the only teams to take advantage of waivers this summer. In total, four players were claimed off waivers, and Philadelphia grabbed half of them: James Anderson and Tim Ohblrecht. Again, the team’s success rate wasn’t 100%, since Ohlbrecht was cut before opening night. But Anderson is playing significant minutes for the club so far, and essentially cost nothing to acquire.

By the time the Sixers finally got around to free agency, the remaining players on the market had very little leverage. Most NBA jobs had been snatched up, so the chance to fight for a roster spot was the best opportunity many free agents would see. Hinkie and the Sixers took advantage of the buyers’ market by snatching up young players with upside, offering them small guarantees in exchange for signing team-friendly deals. As you can see in our summary above, the four free agent signings who remain on the roster – Daniel Orton, Darius Morris, Brandon Davies, and Hollis Thompson – all inked four-year non-guaranteed contracts. It’s unlikely that one of those guys turns into the next Chandler Parsons, but if even one of them becomes a productive NBA player, he’ll be a tremendous bargain, locked up to a minimum salary contract through 2017.

Other summer signings like Vander Blue, Khalif Wyatt, Gani Lawal, and Rodney Williams didn’t ultimately make Philadelphia’s regular season roster, but as our Free Agent Tracker shows, those four players all initially agreed to long-term contracts as well. They all walked away with partial guarantees despite not making the team, but that was a price the Sixers were happy to pay for the opportunity to strike gold on a player on the minimum salary for the next four years. A more cost-conscious club may not have been able to offer those partial guarantees to attract talented young players, but the fact that the Sixers are spending so little on their current roster allowed them to roll the dice.

It’s easy to criticize the Sixers for not giving themselves a chance to compete in the 2013/14 season, but at the same time, it’s hard not to appreciate the creative ways in which the team is attempting to accumulate cheap young talent. Hinkie’s old team in Houston was able to trade for James Harden and sign Dwight Howard in large part because the Rockets stockpiled assets and locked up inexpensive contributors like Parsons, Patrick Beverley, and Greg Smith to team-friendly contracts. The Sixers may need another year or two to put themselves in a position to acquire a star, but Hinkie’s first summer in Philadelphia was an fascinating one, and I’m looking forward to following his next few moves.

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