It seems as though Michael Carter-Williams' name is going to continue to be synonymous with trade rumors. First rumored to possibly be traded before the 2014 NBA Draft, his name once again came up Wednesday during Chad Ford's weekly chat on ESPN.com.
I've heard a lot of rumblings from GMs that Carter-Williams is available. There are some in ownership and in the front office, though not all, that don't see him as a long-term piece of the puzzle. There was a lot of chatter that direction before the draft and in the past few weeks I know several teams have had exploratory discussions with the Sixers. I think the challenge right now is that the Sixers will want a lot in return and MCW's play, to date this season, hasn't warranted multiple first round picks for him. That makes him tough to deal.
While Carter-Williams may indeed be "available" for trade, by no means does that mean the Sixers are actively seeking to move him. If a Jehovah's Witness shows up at my door and starts preaching to me, that doesn't mean I'm looking to convert. I'm just listening to what they have to offer before kindly asking them to get off my porch. The Sixers are not looking to trade away the better pieces of their young team, like Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel, but every player on this team has a price. If a team is willing to pay a premium, Sam Hinkie and the front office should be willing to hear what they have to offer. Nobody on this team is worth keeping off limits, although moving a piece of the core has a real chance of damaging the team's chemistry.
However, the most important part of what Ford had to say is not that Philadelphia is keeping the phone lines open, but that members of the Sixers brain trust feel he may not be a long-term fit.
After a decent first season where he was named Rookie of the Year, the former Syracuse point guard has not played as well as he did last season. Despite no increase in minutes nor shots per game in 2014-15 -- they're essentially identical as last season -- his numbers are down almost across the board. He's shooting just 37.6% from the field, turning the ball over more, and getting to the line less then he did in 2013-14. With that said, it would be hard to give up on him, especially because the Sixers are finally putting some talent around him. Robert Covington has really opened the floor up, and he seems like he's starting to gel with his former AAU teammate, Nerlens Noel.
As Ford mentioned, it would be hard to find a team to give up multiple first-round picks for a point guard whose numbers are dropping, so Carter-Williams may stay here anyhow. But if members of the front office feel like he may not be part of the solution, that might be worth monitoring come draft time. Emmanuel Mudiay and Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell are the top two point guards in the draft, and locks to be (at worst) top 10 picks.
If Philadelphia were to address the point guard situation early in the draft, that would be the organization's first real sign that a marriage with Carter-Williams may be strained.