A new video released on Grantland follows the Sacramento Kings braintrust as they try to decide what to do on draft night....and at one point in the video, the Sacramento Kings GM receives a call from Sixers GM Sam Hinkie about moving up in the draft. Hinkie offered #10 and two 2nd-round picks, to which the Kings President scoffed.
So seeing now that the Sixers were trying to trade up to #8, and were willing to offer a total of three draft picks to do so....it seems like there was someone the Sixers wanted that they weren't able to get. We can say all we want that Saric was Hinkie's guy all along, but they knew he'd be available at #12 and there'd be no reason to give up 2 second-round picks to ensure that you could draft Saric in the top-ten.
Who did Hinkie covet? Was he trying to get Nik Stauskas? Or perhaps Noah Vonleh was his first PF choice? Those were the only two players taken between #8 and the Sixers ultimate pick at #10 (Elfrid Payton, traded for Saric).
If this is true, and all indications are that it is...Sixers fans need to look at the Saric pick a bit differently. Hinkie clearly wanted either Stauskas or Vonleh, important for those who think Hinkie took Saric (in some part, at least) BECAUSE he wouldn't be available to play this year. In reality we were willing to trade up to get a player that would have likely been a starter this season.
Hinkie's trying. He's not intentionally trying to pick unavailable players in order to facilitate another tank-job. The Sixers would be bad whether we had Stauskas or Vonleh next year, the difference would be primarily with perception of the fans/media.
If they couldn't move up to grab either Stauskas or Vonleh, and they felt that after they were gone Dario Saric was the best player left on the board....the move is totally justified. Hinkie has a long leash from ownership at the moment for moves like this...it behooves him to not take advantage of his employer's patience if that can make the difference when his job is up for review in 3-4 years. General Managers aren't judged on how popular a move was with the fans 4 year prior, he's judged based on the competitiveness and flexibility of the team at the time when he's under review (whether that be because of performance, or merely an expiring contract).
Soooo.....long story short: the Sixers were trying to get a player that would play this year. They wanted EITHER a 6'6" shooting guard with range (which all fans have been clamoring for) that would've given the fans infinite confidence in Hinkie's ability to put a team together.....or a long PF prospect who would've made an immediate impact on the court with Nerlens Noel next season. I think they wanted Stauskas, and personally I'm sad we didn't get him.
If we had traded for the pick that went to Stauskas, our lineup NEXT year would look like this:
PG - Michael Carter-Williams - 6'6"
SG - Nik Stauskas - 6'6"
SF - some free agent, or 2nd-round pick
PF - Thaddeus Young - 6'9"
C - Nerlens Noel - 6'11"
And in two years, once Embiid is healthy and Thaddeus is traded?
PG - Michael Carter Williams - 6'6"
SG - Nik Stauskas - 6'6"
SF - TBD
PF - Nerlens Noel - 6'11"
C - Joel Embiid - 7'0"
What a good looking squad.
Let's see what Hinkie does with next year's offseason...at that point they'll have a good grasp on Nerlens' capability, Joel's health, another top-tier draft pick, and plenty of cap flexibility to take on expiring contracts in exchange for draft picks....or make room for a high-priced FA acquisition to fill a position of need.
But that's how close we were. If that one trade had happened and we took Stauskas, Sixers fans and media would likely not be calling Hinkie's commitment to winning into question. They wouldn't be wondering if we're trying to flip the franchise for a quick profit. They wouldn't be saying the Sixes are two years away from being two years away.
The bottom line is this: Hinkie is a silent gambler, giving "outsiders" nothing in terms of PR....but behind the scenes he's wheeling and dealing, leaving no stone unturned in his relentless quest to build a balanced team of lanky athletes that will contend for years at a time.
My trust in Sam Hinkie is renewed....until the trade deadline (GET SOMETHING FOR THAD!!!!)
***Skip to the 6:25 mark to see the exchange with the Sixers***