Offseason In Review: Philadelphia 76ers

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

  • Malcolm Thomas: Four years, $4.373MM. Signed via cap room. First year is partially guaranteed for $474K. Second, third and fourth years are non-guaranteed. Fourth year is also team option. (Waived after season began)
  • JaKarr Sampson: Four years, $3.384MM. Signed via cap room. First year is partially guaranteed for $50K. Second, third and fourth years are non-guaranteed. Fourth year is also team option.

Extensions

  • None

Trades

  • Acquired 2014 pick No. 12, Orlando’s 2015 second-round pick, and their own 2017 first-round pick that they’d given up in a previous trade from the Magic in exchange for 2014 pick No. 10.
  • Acquired the rights to Pierre Jackson from the Pelicans in exchange for 2014 pick No. 47.
  • Acquired 2014 pick No. 58 and 2014 pick No. 60 from the Spurs in exchange for 2014 pick No. 54.
  • Acquired cash from the Nets in exchange for 2014 pick No. 60.
  • Acquired Luc Mbah a Moute, Alexey Shved, and Miami’s 2015 first-round pick (top-10 protected) in a three-way trade with the Cavaliers and Timberwolves in exchange for Thaddeus Young.
  • Acquired Hasheem Thabeet and $100K cash from the Thunder in exchange for Philadelphia’s 2015 second-round pick (top-55 protected). Thabeet was subsequently waived.
  • Acquired Keith Bogans and Cleveland’s 2018 second-round pick from the Cavaliers in exchange for Philadelphia’s 2015 second-round pick if it falls from pick No. 51 through No. 55, as long as the Sixers don’t have to send it to the Celtics to satisfy an obligation from previous trades. Bogans was subsequently waived.
  • Acquired Marquis Teague and the more favorable of Milwaukee’s and Sacramento’s 2019 second-round picks from the Nets in exchange for Casper Ware. Teague was subsequently waived.
  • Acquired Travis Outlaw, New York’s 2019 second-round pick, and the right to swap the Clippers’ 2018 second-round pick with New York’s 2018 second-round pick from the Knicks in exchange for Arnett Moultrie. Outlaw was subsequently waived.

Waiver Claims

  • Chris Johnson: Claimed from the Celtics. Three years, $2.948MM remaining. Contract is non-guaranteed. Final year is also team option.

Draft Picks

  • Joel Embiid (Round 1, 3rd overall). Signed via rookie scale exception to rookie scale contract.
  • Dario Saric (Round 1, 12th overall). Playing overseas.
  • K.J. McDaniels (Round 2, 32nd overall). Signed required tender for one year, $507K. Non-guaranteed.
  • Jerami Grant (Round 2, 39th overall). Signed via cap room for four years, $3.762MM. Third and fourth years are non-guaranteed. Fourth year is also team option.
  • Vasilije Micic (Round 2, 52nd overall). Playing overseas.
  • Jordan McRae (Round 2, 58th overall). Playing overseas.
  • Pierre Jackson (2013, Round 2, 42nd overall). Signed via cap room for one year, $507K. Partially guaranteed for $400K. Subsequently waived.

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

You might assume that a team that pulls off nine trades in a single offseason and comes away with two of the top 12 picks in the draft would be in line to make significant improvements on a 19-63 record from the season before. But in the Bizarro world of the Sixers, where the concerns of tomorrow effectively blot out the existence of today, such conventional wisdom simply doesn’t hold. Those nine trades netted only a pair of players who are on the current roster. One of those top 12 picks is months from playing again, while the other probably won’t be in the NBA until 2016/17. Malcolm Thomas, the team’s most lucrative free agent signee, inked but a four-year, minimum-salary contract, and the Sixers have already released him.

NBA: Preseason-Charlotte Hornets at Philadelphia 76ersUltimately, the key figure of Philly’s summer of 2014 will be No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid, who seemed primed to become the top pick until he broke his foot several days before the draft. The fear that Embiid might miss a significant portion of this season, if not all of it, dissuaded the Cavs and Bucks, who held the top two picks, from drafting him. Neither of them had the stomach to wait that long and risk that the 7-footer would never make it back fully healthy. The Sixers, with more patience than any team in memory, had no such qualms. Of course, it’s not necessarily a matter of merely waiting, since the Cameroonian’s skills, though eminently intriguing, are raw and in need of careful development. The Sixers already have 6’11” Nerlens Noel in place to offset the risk that Embiid simply doesn’t pan out, and while Noel has returned seemingly at full strength after missing all of 2013/14, two big men with a history of injuries doesn’t always add up to at least one healthy player.

There’s no specific timetable for Embiid’s return to the lineup, and there seems a decent chance that he, like Noel, will sit out the first year of his rookie scale contract. This, too, is a gamble for the Sixers, since even as they may be willing to wait longer to compete than anyone had imagined a team could, their up-and-coming talent won’t wait an eternity to be paid. The Sixers surely have no shortage of flexibility to grant extensions or new contracts to Noel and reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams when the time comes. Still, if 2014/15 is a lost cause of a year for Philadelphia, at least as far as the standings are concerned, that means Noel and Carter-Williams will have gone through half of their bargain rookie scale contracts without the Sixers having reaped much tangible benefit.

Philadelphia could nonetheless convert their existing talent into yet more future considerations, and reports this summer indicated the team considered trading Carter-Williams, with the acquisition of another high draft pick in mind. Such a swap would seem a last resort even for the brazen Sixers, as there’s seemingly little logic in giving up on a young prospect who’s already shown signs of achievement for the goal of either acquiring promising but unproven talent or buying more time to develop the rest of the team. Of course, GM Sam Hinkie doesn’t necessarily agree with that sentiment.

Hinkie and owner Josh Harris, who has empowered the GM to ignore any regard for winning in the near term, nearly found out the hard way what it’s like to hold an unpopular opinion about the way an NBA team should conduct its business. Rampant distaste around the NBA for Philadelphia’s take-no-prisoners approach to rebuilding fueled a league proposal to change the lottery and reduce the chances that the teams at the very bottom of the standings each year would receive the top pick in the subsequent draft. Luckily for the Sixers, they found an ally in Thunder GM Sam Presti, whose campaign against lottery reform seemed to play a crucial role in convincing enough owners to block the measure, which needed a three-fourths majority to pass. Support for adding greater disincentive to tank still remains, and another proposal seems likely to surface. It’s nonetheless an issue that almost certainly won’t affect the 2015 lottery, allowing the Sixers to proceed with their radical plan for the time being.

Even if the 2016 lottery takes place under a different set of rules, that still gives Hinkie plenty of time to prepare. The GM has made his moves in relatively short order even as he keeps his eye firmly on long-term goals. He traded his team’s three most talented healthy players from the start of last season within a span of six months, completing the trifecta when he shipped Thaddeus Young to Minnesota as the third team in the trade that sent Kevin Love to Cleveland. The prize for Philadelphia was the future first-round pick that Hinkie had been unable to obtain for Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes. Six of the nine trades the Sixers made in the offseason sent draft picks for 2014 and beyond to Philadelphia. They netted just two first-round picks, but Hinkie continued to demonstrate his affection for second-rounders. Philadelphia could make as many as a dozen second-round picks between 2015 and 2019 after making four this past June.

One of those second-rounders threw the Sixers a curve this summer. No. 32 overall pick K.J. McDaniels, a small forward from Clemson talented enough to go in the first round, balked when the Sixers offered a deal similar to the four-year, mostly non-guaranteed contract for slightly better than the minimum salary that they gave No. 39 overall pick Jerami Grant. McDaniels probably could have grabbed a more lucrative contract overseas, but agent Mark Bartelstein convinced him to bet that a one-year deal for the minimum salary with zero guaranteed money provided the best way to beat Philly’s system. McDaniels signed the required tender for those terms, an offer that the Sixers had to make to keep his draft rights, and so far, his gamble appears to be paying off at least to a modest extent, as he’s averaged 7.2 points and 5.6 rebounds in 28.4 minutes per game across five starts. He’s set for restricted free agency next summer, when he’ll be 21, and though the Sixers still have the ability to match all offers, McDaniels has the ability to solicit bids from 30 teams instead of just one, as he did this past summer.

The McDaniels saga proves that while Harris and Hinkie are bent on future glory at the expense of the present, the concerns of today are nonetheless important for realizing the dreams of tomorrow. The Sixers have to give at least enough regard to the talent they have already in their possession if they’re ever to gather enough of it to start to build some momentum toward their ultimate goals. It’s unclear whether the team regards McDaniels as an outlier or a trend-setter, but it’s critical for the Sixers that they heed all the lessons they learn from their experiment.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

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