On June 27th, Sam Hinkie made it clear that no member of the Philadelphia 76ers is safe during this rebuilding process by trading Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel and New Orleans' 2014 first round pick. We've all lauded the move and his tinkering since, speculating that Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and maybe even Thaddeus Young will be the next on their respective ways out of Philadelphia—which Mike Levin has excellently previewed here, here and Evan's soon to come.
We've all earmarked two dates on our calendars with heavy trade implications: the trade deadline on February 20th and tomorrow, December 15th, the day players who signed new contracts before September 15 become eligible to be traded.
It's no secret Hinkie is hunting for a third (or fourth!) pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. But when you look at the landscape of picks owed across the league, that might not be as easy as it seems on the surface. In order for teams to trade their 2014 first round pick, teams must own their first round pick and not owe their 2015 first round pick to another team—per the CBA, teams cannot surrender picks in two consecutive future drafts. The only teams that currently fill that criteria are the following fourteen teams: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Phoenix, San Antonio, Toronto and Utah.
Looking at that group, you can probably cross off Orlando, Phoenix, Toronto and Utah, rebuilding teams that all covet draft picks just as much as the Sixers, and maybe even Boston, Chicago and Milwaukee too. Charlotte and Denver probably aren't looking to give up valuable future assets to sacrifice their futures either. And even though Phoenix is apparently willing to deal one or more of their picks for a stud, the question remains, are Evan, Spencer, or Thaddeus considered such studs worth a first round pick in a draft that's considered the deepest since 2003? Then, with all the above leaving perhaps just four potentially available 2014 first round picks (Atlanta, Houston, Oklahoma City and San Antonio), would Hinkie possibly aim for picks in next year's draft?
When you look towards June 2015, the list of teams that have first round picks available balloons to: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indiana, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, Toronto, Utah and Washington. Good for 22 of the league's 30 teams.
With a 2015 first round pick or two in Hinkie's pocket, he could potentially use those assets for all kinds of trickery on draft night this June—like packaging several 2014 second rounders and a 2015 first rounder to get into the end of the lottery. And as many around the league know, Hinkie and assets is a dangerous combination.
I texted two front office executives — one from each conference — earlier this week who both declined to comment what they felt Turner, Hawes, and Young are worth in the current NBA trade market. But what was extremely interesting is this: the executives didn't solely decline comment for the traditional reason that they didn't want to potentially help rival teams, they both expressed anxiety about staring into the barrel of Sam Hinkie's loaded gun.
What makes Hinkie's forward thinking even more intimidating around the league is the fact he could very easily use one of the team's three big trade chips to pick up a player in December to package before the deadline in February. For example, essentially swapping Spencer Hawes for Omer Asik and later combining Asik and Evan Turner in a trade for more future assets.
So whether the Sixers' brilliant GM is able to swap one or more of his three trade chips for a 2014 first round pick, 2015 first round pick or a blue-chip talent, the possibilities for successful transactions are endless and everyone has very high expectations.