Dec 20, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Spencer Hawes (00) reacts to being called for a travel during the second quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

What does the Future Hold for Spencer Hawes and the Philadelphia 76ers?

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

With the NBA trade deadline approaching rapidly, Sam Hinkie and the Philadelphia 76ers have a tough decision to make regarding their starting center Spencer Hawes.

Hawes is in the final year of a two-year contract that was signed following the 2012 season and is set to become a free agent once the season ends, but with Nerlens Noel set to join the Sixers active roster next season, finding a position for Spencer Hawes could be a problem.

The twenty-five year old center is having a career year for the Sixers after showing glimpses of his potential in each of the last three years. Hawes is currently averaging 14.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.5 BPG while shooting 49% from the field and 44% from behind the arc. These numbers are all well above his career averages and if the season were to end today, each of these statistics would set new career highs for Hawes.

The problem for the Sixers is that with Spencer Hawes playing at this level, teams around the league are beginning to take notice. Several teams have already inquired on Hawes’ availability with Sam Hinkie early on in the season, and once Hawes reaches free agency, there will be no shortage of suitors for the center’s services.

As the trade deadline inches closer and closer, Hinkie has three options to consider:

1- Let Spencer Hawes test free agency and offer him a contract to remain a Sixer

2- Let Hawes leave via free agency without receiving compensation

3- Trade Hawes before the trade deadline for young, controllable assets

As it currently stands, it is pretty safe to say that option number three is the safest and best suited option for this Sixers’ team moving forward for several reasons.

If Hinkie chooses to keep Hawes past the deadline and allows him to test free agency, the chances of him returning are slim to none due to the presence of hopeful franchise center Nerlens Noel. Noel’s talent and upside is far and above Hawes’ even with his improvement this year.

The Sixers have basically shut down the notion that Nerlens Noel will play this year as he recovers from the torn ACL injury he suffered last February. Instead, the team is using this time to help Noel improve his offensive game around the basket in an attempt to groom him to be the starter next season. The ceiling for Noel is limitless if he can develop a post game offense to go along with his stellar defense.

With Noel in the starting line up, Spencer Hawes would be relegated to coming off the bench backing up Noel. Brett Brown could attempt to start Hawes at the power forward position, but this would bump Thaddeus Young from the starting line up, where he has thrived this year at the four. In reality, Hawes’ value to the team would decrease if he played the four because his game does not translate into the power forward position due to his lack of speed and ability to guard on the perimeter. Hawes’ value lies as a stretch center who can score both in the paint and step out to hit a shot on the perimeter to create defensive problems for opposing teams.

With that in mind, it is high unlikely that Spencer Hawes would agree to resign with the Sixers in free agency this summer, and in doing so, would leave the Sixers without receiving any compensation in return.

This leaves option number three for Hinkie to consider over the next few weeks. With Hawes increased level of play, Hinkie could net a nice package of players or picks in return for Hawes’ services. There are quite a few NBA teams that are in need of a starting center of Hawes’ caliber. He could help a team in a variety of ways especially in the playoffs.

There are a few players on the Sixers’ current roster that could end up on different teams for the second half of the season, but the likelihood of a Spencer Hawes trade is the one to keep an eye on as the deadline approaches in late February.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers Spencer Hawes

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