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Sixers Stories: The Trade Deadline Twister That Shook The Franchise

A trade deadline expected to be quiet (by Sixers standards) turned out to be a franchise-changer.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Deadline Day 2014 was a much-celebrated day for 76ers fans. It saw the welcomed departures of Real American Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen and much-maligned Ohio State product Evan Turner. Out with the tide went some of the final remnants of the Doug Collins era, while Byron Mullens and a healthy pile of second-round picks washed ashore. The 2014 fire sale wasn't exactly out of left field and wasn't a particularly difficult set of moves to make. 2015 in comparison, however, seemed like it would be a tame deadline. We were all wrong.

In 2014, Turner, Hawes, and Allen were all on expiring deals, so the only alternative was watching the trio of vets ride camels into the sunset come July. Sam Hinkie essentially chose something (five second round draft picks, including the pick that became Jerami Grant) over nothing. In 2015, the Sixers didn't seem like they had much to give, at least on the surface. But they in fact did, and this year's trade deadline saw the team make moves that, unlike in 2014, weren't blankly staring them in the face.

The day was progressing as expected. Jackson forced his way out of Oklahoma City, as did Kanter in Utah, and as did Dragic in Phoenix. The Sixers took on salary as Sixers fans reveled in the joy of the JaVale McGee rental that landed the team Oklahoma City's protected 2015 first-round pick via Denver (which will not be traded to the Sixers officially until 2016, most likely). But then, out of absolutely nowhere, it happened. Right at the buzzer.

How the whole situation unraveled on Twitter was nothing short of magnificent.

I have to say, the three or so minutes during which Isaiah Thomas was a Sixer were irrationally delightful. He didn't fit their defensive philosophy (which, among other things, emphasizes defending basketball players) and directly juxtaposed the team's player development credo. But at 5-foot-9 with a lovable edge to his on-court personality, he's just likable.

But I digress, because after three minutes of ignoring systemic and philosophical fit, Woj dropped one of his trademarked cratering nukes on Marc Stein's report.

(This day, a day that will live on infamy, will forever be remembered as The Day the Deadline Broke Woj.)

Once the final details rolled in and the i's were dotted and t's were crossed, the reality set in: we probably won't have a clear picture of the ramifications of these moves until far down the line. Trading Michael Carter-Williams, a flawed but known quantity with unknown upside, for something whose value is to-be-determined was a risk. Dealing an athletically gifted rookie in K.J. McDaniels with the intent of better allocating future expenditures was also a risk.

Ergo, Deadline Day 2014 and Deadline Day 2015 were encouraging successes for Philadelphia fans, but in ways that are crucial to distinguish. The former was simple, a final auction on pieces the team had absolutely no intention of bringing back. The latter was not. The slew of trades that comprised the latter took brass cajones to make, and although it'll surely be a while before we know its residual effects, it was still encouraging in its own way.

Regardless of where it lands them in three years, or five, or ten, on Feb. 19 the Sixers yet again showed their willingness to take risks. Championship teams aren't built without a healthy dose of those.

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