The Philadelphia 76ers are inching closer toward the day their entire season has built up to: the NBA trade deadline. With three legitimate assets set to be dealt, it's only a matter of time before Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and/or Spencer Hawes are wearing new colors.
Keith Pompey of Philly.com is reporting that even though the Sixers are trying to move all three players, they're demanding first-round picks—namely, ones in the draft lottery—in return.
[T]he 76ers are believed to be the most active team in trade talks leading up to the deadline. The Sixers have had discussions with all 29 other NBA franchises.
They are unlikely to make a move until the final hours before the deadline, but there's also a chance the Sixers won't make any moves.
They are reportedly interested in getting first-rounders, preferably lottery picks. That could be a holdup.
Getting a sizable return for all three trade chips is certainly feasible, but insisting on lotto picks—when they're already slated to have two of them in this year's draft—isn't reasonable.
There's no doubt the Sixers should cash in on their assets, as teams are becoming more desperate for difference makers as the postseason nears. But they'll need to be a bit more flexible than what we're hearing.
Neither Willing Nor Able
Being on the hunt for these types of picks is one task. But finding a partner that is not only willing to part with future selections, but also is permitted to under the CBA, is even more daunting. Jake Fischer of Liberty Ballers explained further in a December post:
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.
That alone, despite Philadelphia reaching out to all 29 teams as Pompey reported, eliminates half of them. Of those teams listed above, only seven are in a position to have a lottery pick in this draft—leaving a quarter of the league as eligible partners for Sam Hinkie.
Boston, Milwaukee and Utah make up half of Philly's supposed target negotiators, and none of those clubs would likely surrender future assets for a short-term rental. Cleveland, Denver and Phoenix make up the other three teams, which is a bit more interesting.
Philly's Ideal Partners
Cleveland may elect to enter full-on panic mode and attempt to re-enter the playoff picture taking on a player for a future asset at the deadline, even though they've already acquired Luol Deng at small forward and Anderson Varejao has been typically solid at the center spot.
They could choose to go after Hawes as a reserve, but the debate then becomes if Hawes is worth a top pick in what's supposed to be the deepest draft since 2003.
Young could be another Cleveland target, but a move for power forward would stunt the growth of Tristan Thompson, who has been developing chemistry with Kyrie Irving over the last three seasons.
Of course, the idea of Cleveland trading for a Sixer would be for them to exit lottery territory and catapult into the postseason. This scenario doesn't seem to work for anyone.
The Nuggets don't seem to make a good partner, either, as they are set on the wings with Wilson Chandler and Randy Foye and even deeper at the 4 and 5 spots.
This leaves the Suns, who have four 2014 first-round picks at their disposal, as well as Emeka Okafor's expiring, insured contract.
All three 76ers trade candidates could seemingly fit into Phoenix's short-term plans, but the team has been rumored to want to use one of their stockpiled picks on players like Pau Gasol, not the roughly replacement-level Hawes or Turner or a long-term salary commitment in Young.
Of the select handful of teams that Philly has their sights set on, there are no true fits for a deal with such high demands.
The Hard Truth
The most likely scenario to play out won't thrill Sixers management. No team with a 2014 lottery selection will presumably swap it out for one of Philadelphia's pieces, and it's for the same reason that Philly is trying to make a deal: Because they know how much more value the pick has in the deal.
If Hinkie decides to ease off his demands, thus opening conversation with championship contenders, more productive talks will follow. Those teams don't have top selections available to deal, but they would be more likely to include a first-rounder than teams in need of a rebuild.
One potential match could be the Oklahoma City Thunder, who Adrian Wajnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports is on the lookout for a wing.
The Thunder have an array of picks they could include in a deal, including a 2014 first-round pick. The salaries of Thabo Sefolosha and Hasheem Thabeet add up to work in a deal for Turner, and both expire at season's end.
The Charlotte Bobcats have two picks in this upcoming draft, one of which belonged to the Detroit Pistons. As it stands now, the Detroit pick would end up in the lottery. But the retooling 'Cats may not choose to donate a 2014 lottery selection for an in-season trade.
A more likely scenario, which would also involve Philadelphia backing off its demands, would be Turner or Young being sent to Charlotte for the Portland Tail Blazers' first-rounder. A Young-Al Jefferson frontcourt pairing would certainly inject some offense into the team, while a Turner pickup would boost the team's play out of the small forward position.
According to 82games, Bobcats small forwards have posted a player efficiency rating of just 10 so far this season.
The 76ers will certainly have several options this deadline day, but only if they loosen their demands.