The July 1st start of NBA Free Agency had been far from normal. It would take me a month to type out all the moves, so I'll sum it up with this handy link and one "SINGLER!" yelp and be done with it. But our Sixers -- as Zach Lowe reminded us near the end of the day -- were absent from all public conversations, save for a cancelled Jimmy Butler meeting and a Rockets contingency plan.
So I hopped on Twitter, weirdly went to bat for a theoretical Deron Williams trade (might've made some sense!), and then headed off to a work dinner where I couldn't check my phone. If I had, the hundreds of tweets and LB staff emails would've clued me in:
Sam Hinkie is not dead. Nik Stauskas is a Sixer. And Jason Thompson arrived three years late for a Doug Collins party.
HOLY HELL. There's a lot to unpack here... is a thing smart NBA people say when a complex trade happens. This is not a complex trade. This is a pillaging. Not a lot to unpack at all -- just one suitcase containing a gold statue of Vivek Ranadive punching himself in the dick until 2018 at the earliest.
One of Hinkie's most consistent refrains is regarding expectations. If something you expect to happen happens, it shouldn't change your evaluation of a player. That confusing sentence structure is best explained through Tony Wroten. He got drafted by a Memphis team that didn't have the minutes for a raw talent like his, and he barely played. Hinkie got him for nothing, and has turned him into an NBA player slash shammgodder of ankles in Philly. Similar scenario with Jrue Holiday playing off the ball his only season at UCLA.
The Kings drafted Stauskas a year ago into a toxic situation, played him behind a 2-guard they took in the lottery the year before in Ben McLemore, ran through three coaches, and told him how much they wanted to trade him pretty much the entire time. If you liked Stauskas coming into the draft -- as I did -- and think the Kings were an absolute shit show -- as I did -- Nik's 2014-15 NBA season should not heavily influence your opinion of him.
Many in Philadelphia wanted Stauskas last year. Now, 12 months later, Hinkie got him, a 1st rd pick, and 2 pick swaps for basically nothing.— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) July 2, 2015
This trade was wild on every level. Stauskas alone would have been enough (dayenu). Not trading Dario Saric would have been enough (dayenu). Not trading Vasilije Micic (!) would have been enough (dayenu). All that *and* the 2018 first round pick *and* the option to swap firsts in 2016 and 2017, all the while washing the bad taste of the 2015 NBA Draft second round out of my mouth...
After a brief bout of QUESTIONING THE PROCESS, I have cleansed my body and mind with this updated list of all the future Sixers-owned picks, courtesy of Derek Bodner. And I wouldn't sleep on the team flipping one or both of Carl Landry and Jason Thompson before this season or at least prior to their contracts expiring after the 2016-17 season.
This is why cap space matters. Sam Hinkie got all this for NOTHING. Nobody attacks cap-strapped teams with the need to shed salary more voraciously than he does. Dude smelled blood in the water and he absolutely went for it. Welcome to the show, Vlade Divac. First pitch was just sent through the Black & Decker sign in right center. Peep that Hinkie bat flip.
I'm never going to dinner again. Trust The Process.
A brief moment of silence for the Sacramento Kings, who, as you smugly remember, allowed unprecedented access to Grantland during the 2014 Draft, at which time they selected Future Current Sixer Nik Stauskas. It put the organization's ineptitude on full display, and potentially impacted this very trade:
Imagine Hinkie watching the Sacramento Kings War Room video and salivating like a lion in the wild.— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) July 3, 2014
We remain as dumbfounded about the video now as we were then. Vivek has reached Maloofian levels. My god, Kings. At least we now have an answer to the strangest moment of the LB Lottery Party:
Sixers fans cheering Vlade at the lottery party turned out to be prophetic.— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) July 2, 2015
Sure, they can go sign somebody (Wes Matthews?) and save some face, but even still, this is an atrocious trade for them any way you slice it. Here's Ziller on the Kings breaking all the rules, and not in the Morris Chestnut-Jamie Foxx way either. I have a feeling one of those pick swaps will come back to bite them squarely in Vivek's ass. Derek runs down the importance of the pick swaps here. Oh no this was supposed to be a moment of silence for the Kings and here I am shitting on them again. Ah, well.
Is Stauskas a real game-changer? Maybe not. But with Brett Brown's development staff and the opportunities to succeed and fail this Sixers team will afford him, there does not exist a better situation for Nik to figure it out. This is exactly the kind of thing the Sixers should be doing. As for the rest of the players, Stauskas gives Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel another outside shooter to kick it to, next to Robert Covington and Hollis Thompson. Whether they plug Nik in at the 1 or 2 remains to be seen, but he's a talented young kid (far younger than Delon Wright and Jerian Grant) with tons of ability, who was acquired for nothing.
Watch out, the Sixers are starting -- starting! -- to look like a basketball team.