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Why The Thaddeus Young Trade Was a Good Move

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Something is always better than nothing.

"Hey Thad, good news, we're trading you to Minnesota. Bad news..."
"Hey Thad, good news, we're trading you to Minnesota. Bad news..."
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Thaddeus Young was going to leave as a free agent after this season.

And that's the end of the post. Good night, everybody!

In all seriousness though, when discussing any possible trade involving Thaddeus Young this offseason, that's the first thing you have to keep in mind. It wasn't a secret. He didn't make a big scene out of demanding a trade, because he's a professional, but it was out there. Even if it wasn't, to other GM's, he could be seen as either trading assets for a guy who could leave after one year, or even more dangerous, a guy who could suddenly add $10 million to your cap next year in a potentially deep free agent class. There were a lot of negatives to a Thaddeus Young trade, and very few of them were regarding his play.

The arguments against the return from this trade are very fair, for the most part. In a vacuum, Thad is a highly underrated player in this league, a guy who never gets enough credit for what he brings to a team. The numbers back it up, and it is highly unlikely that this trade will result in equal value to what Thad would bring them.

But that's precisely the problem. Thad wouldn't bring that value here, because he wouldn't be here. He'd be playing somewhere else, and in return, the Sixers would have nothing, rather than what they obtained from Minnesota, which is something.

The first round pick is obviously the jewel of the deal for the Sixers. I like the draft pick. We're used to looking at the phrase "Miami first round pick" and chuckling, because that's usually buried in the dark recesses of the back of the first round (which I lovingly refer to as "The Moultrie District"), but next year's Miami Heat? Is it really a stretch that that team finishes as the 6th seed in the East, which this year earned you the 16th pick in the draft? Dwyane Wade played in 54 games last year, and that was considered keeping him healthy. Last time Chris Bosh was the best player on a team, that team won 40 games, and that was before he decided that he was no longer interested in playing a low post game. The fourth and fifth best players on this team are Josh McRoberts and Mario Chalmers, and the best player is not Lebron. I think they're still a playoff team, but if this pick was any worse than #20, I'd be shocked.

The value of a first round pick in this league, both in actually picking a player or as a trade asset, has never been higher. This isn't ten years ago when you could acquire a first round pick for $2 million and a DVD copy of Love and Basketball. It's a legitimate asset to have for the future, and all the Sixers gave up to get it was cap space they aren't going to use anyway and a player who wasn't going to be on their team past this season.

As far as expiring contracts go, they could have done far worse on that front as well. I'm not one of the biggest "intangibles" guys in the world, as far as having "good locker room guys" around to teach good habits, which was one of the leading arguments for keeping Thad around, as well as being a fun hot take talking point that the Sixers had nobody to do just that. Adding Luc Mbah a Moute is an exception to my policy. Having invested so much in Joel Embiid, acquiring his mentor can only help to ease the transition for a player who really is going to need help adjusting to life in the NBA, and anything that can be done to ease that transition is something I see as a legitimate asset.

And Alexey Shved is...a person, I guess. I honestly have no idea what to make of Shved. He was, generously, a terrible basketball player last year. He's a restricted free agent after this season, so I guess the Sixers can give him one more shot to see if he can be less terrible, and then let him go back to his home planet. Still, as a one year flier in a lost season, you could do worse.

The bottom line is, this trade was a good move for the Sixers in the long-term. They acquired what could potentially be a young, cheap asset for a player that was leaving at the end of the year. He was leaving. No matter how many times people tried to talk themselves into the idea that he'd suddenly change his mind at the end of the year after wanting to be traded for two years, he was gone.

Sam Hinkie got something for him. And not a last minute "Sure, we'll take a late 2nd round pick for Evan Turner" something. He got a potentially valuable first round pick, and a legitimate mentor for his franchise player. It's not a slam-dunk, spike the ball in your opponent's face-type trade win for Hinkie, but it's a trade that suits the Sixers long-term plan.