He came. He saw. He Hinkied. 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie’s first trade deadline did not disappoint. Philadelphia earmarked the day with notable moves in the morning and even right up against the league’s 3PM EST ‘cease fire’ and the organization took another huge leap in the series of events they set forth during last offseason’s draft.
Much has been made about how fans were expected to follow the 76ers this season. It was made almost comically clear before the team even played a game during the 2013-2014 campaign that there were no expectations throughout the entire organizations for any sort of title run. While the blossoming of rookie Michael Carter-Williams has been a pleasant sideshow, the NBA season from a 76ers standpoint has felt more like waiting out a near-inevitability. The build-up that has been created by fans being convinced that the team’s attrition this year would pay off with a top-three NBA Draft pick in the stock-piled lottery coming up in the offseason has made the remote possibility of that not happening a potential disaster.
As the 76ers have hemorrhaged losses over the season, the anticipation for Thursday’s deadline became the lone remaining beacon of hope left on a fan’s docket during the season, save for a Nerlens Noel debut. With up to three viable trade chips in: Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, and Thaddeus Young, many figured the front office would continue to position themselves advantageously in the rapidly approaching 2014 Draft. Given the fact that even with their three most talented, seasoned pieces the 76ers still held the 2nd worst record in the NBA, unloading even one of the trio would almost assure a continued stumble down the stretch of a season destined for failure.
Similar to the feel of draft night, Hinkie’s moves were cold, swift, and calculated. The 76ers dominated the constant flow of activity, even with some of their lower profile moves. Considering the fact that the NBA trade deadline is often a dud, Philadelphia was able to collect draft picks and expiring contracts at a staggering rate. The level of confusion was on par with draft night, but with an entirely different context to follow. Just when it seemed like one could get a grasp on where the franchise stood in terms of pluses and minuses, another transaction would come down the wire and the reset button would be triggered yet again. For how little this team is able to collect wins on the floor, no other organization seems to operate with such fervency when the bullets are flying on some of the important dates on the NBA calender.
So leading off this week’s ‘Four-for-Four’, the 76ers have appeared to have finally reached their ‘Ground Zero’. It is feasible that a few other moving parts could be shifted around, but the departures of Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes signify the cleansing of the final vestiges of an era of 76ers basketball the current regime would like to distance themselves from. Now that the dust has settled from the clearing of the final columns, the pressure is officially on Sam Hinkie and the Philadelphia ownership group. The decisions that will have to be made to turn the team into a title contender will be leaps and bounds more difficult than the ones that brought them to the cellar of the NBA. Luck will have to be involved, but the front office will have to shoot a very high percentage on their marquee decisions in the coming months of this tear-down approach is going to pay off or put the franchise even further into the depths of irrelevancy.