Tag Archives: Tony Wroten

The Trade Machine Diaries, Part 2

The ESPN Trade Machine has been a great innovation for avid basketball fans like us. If only real trades were able to go down so easily and without everyone’s consent like in your 2K franchise. I tried my best to come up with 15 realistic trades with all 30 teams involved. So when I say “go” everybody grab a dance partner and make a trade…go!

(Disclaimer #1: because you can’t swap draft picks in the trade machine, I ad-libbed and traded picks based on what I thought was fair value. Disclaimer #2: You may or may not be aware that I’m not a real NBA GM, so what I thought was fair value is subjective. Enjoy.)

If you missed Part One of the Diaries, check them out here.

Philadelphia 76ers/Los Angeles Lakers

Philadelphia sends Tony Wroten to Los Angeles for Wayne Ellington and their 2015 second round pick

As good as Tony Wroten has performed in a Sixers uniform, the fact remains that no one player is safe on a team that is winless through its first 12 games. If you ask Sam Hinkie to weigh Tony Wroten against a second round pick that is likely to be in the top 38, he’s going to choose the draft pick every time. It’s nothing against Wroten; Hinkie is all about collecting future assets. The Lakers probably shouldn’t deal this pick because it seems like this year’s draft is going to be a relatively deep one. Lin and Nash are out the door this summer and Wroten has proven to be a valuable commodity. He’s explosive, can get to the basket at will, and might be a player who can build on his recent success. If the Lakers figure Wroten is better than anyone they’ll get at the top of second round, it makes perfect sense to pull the trigger. Tony Wroten is an obvious upgrade at PG compared to whatever the Lakers have lined up for 2015.

Toronto Raptors/Golden State Warriors

Toronto sends Landry Fields, Chuck Hayes, and a second round draft pick to Golden State for Andre Iguodala

It’s been no secret that Andre Iguodala is unhappy with Steve Kerr and his new role off the bench for the Warriors. If the Warriors really want to make a commitment to Harrison Barnes, trading Andre Iguodala would be a good indication. It may not be the most basketball savvy move for Golden State, but their payroll could use the relief. They receive the expiring deals of Landry Fields and Chuck Hayes, which would benefit them in the offseason. They’ve already committed a ton to David Lee, Andrew Bogut, Klay Thompson, and Steph Curry, so this type of “salary shedding” deal is necessary for the Warriors. Messing with your teams chemistry while you’re winning isn’t generally a good thing to do, but adding Iguodala for almost nothing makes the Raptors a legit contender to make the Eastern Conference Finals. Terrence Ross is not yet the model of consistency at the SF position, and adding Iguodala, an all-around player and distributor, will help DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and Jonas Valanciunas.

Memphis Grizzlies/Utah Jazz

Memphis sends Kosta Koufos and a (top 22 protected) first round pick to Utah for Rudy Gobert

In this scenario Memphis is preparing for life after Marc Gasol. The smart money has Gasol leaving for a huge deal elsewhere (MSG?) in the offseason. Utah has an excess of big men, which is a very valuable commodity these days. Utah cautiously chooses to keep Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors over Gobert. In return, the Jazz gets a protected first rounder and the expiring contract of Kosta Koufos. Rudy Gobert is hardly a finished product, but Memphis could do worse on short notice.

Milwaukee Bucks/New Orleans Pelicans

Milwaukee sends Jared Dudley to New Orleans for John Salmons, Jimmer Fredette, Jeff Withey and a future second round pick

Milwaukee has certainly over performed thus far into the season. The Bucks really don’t rely that heavily on Jared Dudley as is, but now with players like Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Greek Freak, emerging even more, it’s harder to justify giving extended minutes to Jared Dudley. Of course veteran leadership is important for a team like the Bucks, but who actually believes that Dudley is an integral part of this Bucks team? New Orleans is a rising team in the West but their second unit could use some improvements. They really lack depth overall when Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, and “the Brow” leave the court. Dudley isn’t the most prolific scorer, but he can at least give the Pelicans a little spark when the starters are on the bench.

(GIF via Tumblr)
(GIF via Tumblr)

Los Angeles Clippers/Denver Nuggets

Los Angeles sends CJ Wilcox and Ekpe Udoh to Denver for Nate Robinson

Right now the Clippers backup point guard is Jordan Farmar. Farmar isn’t the player he used to be when he played with the Lakers championship teams. A bonafide contender like the Clippers should make finding a replacement for Farmar a top priority. At this point, the Nuggets will probably be selling most of their assets, and luckily for Lob City, Nate Robinson is on the block. Besides Jamal Crawford, there isn’t much scoring out there for the Clippers second unit. Knicks fans will begin to pine for the old days when Crawford and Nate were wearing blue and orange. There will be more than enough buckets out there for the two of them when CP3 and JJ Redick leave the game.

New York Knicks/Oklahoma City Thunder

New York sends Iman Shumpert, Samuel Dalembert and Arnett Moultrie to Oklahoma City for Kendrick Perkins and a lottery protected first round pick

It’s entirely possible that Iman Shumpert is not part of the Knicks’ future. Shump is a talented young player but who knows if Phil Jackson has eyes on other potential talent at the two guard spot in free agency. They receive Perkins’ expiring contract as well as a future first rounder from OKC. No, you did not read that incorrectly: for once the Knicks would be receiving a first rounder instead of giving one away. For the Thunder, this could be a last ditch effort at trying to keep Kevin Durant from fleeing to DC. Russell Westbrook, Durant, Serge Ibaka, Shumpert and Steven Adams could contend for the title.

Orlando Magic/San Antonio Spurs

Orlando sends Andrew Nicholson, Dewayne Dedmon and a second round pick to San Antonio for Austin Daye, Jeff Ayres and a future first round pick (top 22 protected)

The frontcourt in Orlando is quickly getting very crowded. The Magic drafted Aaron Gordon fourth overall this year and have big plans for him. They also signed Channing Frye to a four year contract (a questionable signing to say the least) and currently have other bigs on the roster like Kyle O’Quinn and Nik Vucevic and wings in Tobias Harris and Mo Harkless who can play the four as well. The Spurs are the team that would recognize Nicholson withering away on the Orlando bench. This doesn’t really affect Tim Duncan, since he’s immortal and will probably continue playing well into his 50s. But honestly, you’d have to think he only has one or two years left in the tank. Nicholson is kind of a speculative, buy low prospect for the Spurs. They’ve done it before with guys like Danny Green and Boris Diaw. No doubt, if Nicholson were to dress in a Spurs uniform he’d be a solid contributor. Meanwhile, the Magic grab another future asset.

Dallas Mavericks/Washington Wizards

Dallas sends Charlie Villanueva to Washington for Drew Gooden

Hey, these guys are still getting paid to be in the NBA! Finally we’ve reached the end. Sorry that this trade is anticlimactic but those are the breaks of trying to force a deal with every single NBA squad. Some of these trades are bound to be duds.

Follow @jeff_berest for more of my NBA musings and @DRosesAndThorns for more Bulls and NBA coverage.

Your 2018 Eastern Conference Champions…

This article is dedicated to myself for giving my heart and soul to the Sixers even though I’ll be getting nothing in return for a couple years. Also, to the recently released Sixer Chris Johnson, because we all know he never had a shot…pour one out for the homie.

Flashback to Draft Night 2013

The Philadelphia 76ers are coming off an abysmal and disappointing season which ended in the firing of head coach/broadcaster extraordinaire Doug Collins and the release of President and acting GM Rod Thorn. We legit had Thorn running this team in the front office and Doug Collins slowly dissipating any chemistry left on the floor. What’s even more absurd is that as a fan, this duo was actually creating a sense of optimism for the franchise the previous two years. Seems silly right?

Oh yeah, one more thing. We had that whole Andrew Bynum trade really not work out in our favor. We dealt our franchise player (if you can call Andre Iguodala one) as well as the walking double-double Nikola Vucevic. I absolutely was in love with Vucevic when he was a Sixer, such a rare type of talent at the center position, and Doug Collins didn’t even put his ass on the floor during the playoffs. Sorry, just letting out some frustration. I think throughout this article you’ll notice I will do that. As a Sixers fan releasing pent up negative energy in a healthy way is step one in the twelve steps to admitting you’re a Sixers fan.

To sum this digression up: Andrew Bynum while with the Sixers played 0 games and averaged 0 points, 0 rebounds, and 0 blocks per game. In comes the dark and mysterious figure that is general manager Sam Hinkie. To be honest, I knew very little about Hinkie when he was hired as GM. I knew he came from the Rockets organization and he was very into analytics. He also wasn’t Rod Thorn so Hinkie had that going for him. I was on board.

So back to Brooklyn and the Barclays Center. Typically an NBA franchise that has recently fired their head coach hires a new one before an important event like the draft. But obviously the Sixers are no typical franchise with Hinkie at the helm. Sam Hinkie legitimately didn’t care who the future coach would be; this draft was all his. Now obviously the Sixers ownership is involved, but they have basically given Hinkie the only keys to the castle. He makes every decision and the only one that he answers to is god; and even god is like “dude, whatever you gotta do to make this Sixers team competitive is alright with me…”

The Sixers roster before the draft featured a bunch guys with mediocre skills. It was non-descript to say the least. But we had one silver lining and that was 23 year old All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. He seemed like a legit building block and a guy Hinkie would be able to put pieces around and go forward wi…..and he’s gone! While everyone was salivating at the prospect of Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel playing alongside each other in New Orleans and blocking around 35 shots a game, Hinkie was behind closed doors dealing for the injured Kentucky product (Noel) as well as a future first round pick.

There was a lot of discrepancy in the reporting of this deal during draft night. While all of the facts were being sorted out, the Sixers were on the clock and had selected Syracuse point guard and future rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams, aka MCW, aka “the Sultan of Steals”, aka “the Prime Minister of Passing” (none of these other nicknames have stuck like MCW unfortunately). After the selection of MCW this basically confirmed that Jrue Holiday was on the move. I had trouble wrestling with this new direction Hinkie was steering us in. But the team was going nowhere and had zero shot of winning anything with just Jrue Holiday, and while the concept of bottoming out and possibly getting Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker was appealing, it was a long way away from next year’s draft.

MCW-and-Noel

By the end of the night I was on board and fully immersed in what I refer to as “Hinkieball”. It’s like “moneyball” except completely different and not involving baseball. Hinkie had completely changed the course of the franchise for the better in about 15 minutes. 15 minutes! That’s a fourth of an episode of Homeland! Hinkie moved Jrue Holiday for what would have been the #1 overall pick if healthy (Noel) and a top three protected first rounder next year from the Pelicans in addition to completely overhauling the cap situation. At the end of the 2013-14 season they had an astounding $36 million available. Teams would kill for a cap situation this good. Literally, Mitch Kupchak would go out on a murdering spree in LA right now to give the Lakers just half as good a cap situation as Hinkie has gotten for the Sixers.

So finally the 2013-14 season is upon us. Sixers fans are ready for the tanking extravaganza to begin. We have our several boxes of tissues to wipe away tears that we were to experience in the upcoming months. We also have our slop buckets to collect all the vomit induced from the sickening feeling of watching Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes take a combined 50 shots a game. I actually want you to keep reading so I’m not going to go into actual detail about the Sixers 2013-14 season.

2013 sixers

Here are the highlights:

  • We beat Miami in the season opener and MCW locked up the rookie of the year award on day one of the season. (Editor’s note: also this. Fuck this.)
  • Sam Hinkie acquired every second round pick in the next three NBA drafts at the trade deadline.

…..and that’s about it.

Also just for a good laugh here are some actual guys who appeared in a Sixers uniform last season.

  • Daniel Orton
  • Lorenzo Brown
  • James Nunnally
  • Adonis Thomas
  • Darius Johnson-Odom

Those five guys could play against you and some friends in pickup ball at the local JCC and you’d probably only lose by a couple buckets.

Finally, last season was the most awkward I have ever felt about the game of basketball in my life and I wouldn’t wish that kind of suffering upon any of my enemies. It was just weird watching a bunch of not-quite fringe NBA players play bad basketball and hoping that they lose night in and night out. It’s hard to sit there and root for your team to lose, but that was truly the only way to get better. It was also the first time as a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan where losing was not only tolerated but encouraged. It’s crazy to think that this little middle-aged white guy from Houston had completely mesmerized a city that is known to have no patience and is absolutely heartless when it comes to their sports teams’ successes or failures. (Obligatory cliché “snowballs at Santa Claus” joke).  But for real, we threw batteries at J.D. Drew for saying he didn’t want to play here. We’re the craziest fan base in the whole world and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it.

Anyway we won 19 games last season and finished with the second best odds at landing the #1 pick in June in addition to the Pelicans pick, which ended up being #10 overall. This was going swimmingly for Hinkie and the front office. Sixers fans could finally see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. We ended up landing the third pick, which locked us in at getting Wiggins, Parker, or Embiid. All three of those guys would excite the fan base and reinvigorate the team. Then the Joel Embiid injury threw the whole top of the draft for a loop. Was there a real possibility that the Sixers would take a flyer on an injured big man and sit him for the entire season? I truly couldn’t fathom going through another year like the last.

So obviously and without hesitation, Sam Hinkie took Joel Embiid and put a dagger through the heart of every Sixers fan. To add insult to injury, he traded for Dario Saric and stashed him away overseas, thus twisting the dagger that he had already thrust inside us. What everyone wanted to believe was a one year rebuilding plan ended up being a multiyear process. After hundreds of expletives hurled by me at friends, family, religious statues, and TV media personalities, I finally began to cope with what was going on with my beloved Sixers franchise. In one year Sam Hinkie had gathered a pretty impressive stock. Four top twelve picks (MCW, Noel, Embiid, Saric), approximately $35-40 million in cap flexibility, and the likelihood of gathering another top three pick in 2015. He also acquired Joel Embiid’s Twitter handle, which has been All-Star caliber. The dude hits up Kim Kardashian and Rihanna on Twitter just because. As far as I’m concerned, Joel is the man and we all wish him a speedy recovery.

This brings us into the present and the 2014-15 Sixers squad. It’s definitely been easier to mentally prepare for this current season then it was for last. I’m used to seeing just terrible basketball run across my TV screen, but now it’s being brought to an all-time low. Last year, miraculously we won 19 games. This was largely due to having a combination of Turner, Hawes, Thad Young, and MCW. After Turner and Hawes were dealt at the deadline the team began to plummet down the standings. Not because they were great players, but because instead of acceptable NBA players taking 15-20 shots each a game; those shots were replaced by the likes of Casper Ware and Byron Mullens. This year, the Sixers have no decent veterans who can average 12-15 points a game. This is the reason they are without a win 10 games into the season.

Reasons-The-Sixers-Will-Still-Be-Terrible-Justin-Ford-USA-TODAY-Sports
via Rantsports 

This was the Sixers 2014 opening night starting lineup:

  • PG Tony Wroten
  • SG Chris Johnson
  • SF Hollis Thompson
  • PF Nerlens Noel
  • C Henry Sims

Seriously, this is no misprint. These guys can all call themselves NBA starters. I mentioned above that Chris Johnson was let go, and this is no accident, he really is a dreadful player. Johnson was brought into training camp one week before the season started. The Sixers roster is so pitiful this year, that Brett Brown legit had no other options at the two guard spot but to start a guy who just joined the team a week ago.

This whole scenario is so so sad. The Sixers are not guilty of tanking, as much as obliterating any chance possibly winning basketball games. The Sixers are comprised of MCW, Nerlens, and the longest list of D-list celebrity NCAA players who you may or may not remember when they were on a team that was a 12 seed in the tournament. However, second round pick K.J. McDaniels has been a true bright spot for the team and could actually be an integral part of this Sixers team in the future. Early reports on Nerlens Noel are good as well. He obviously needs to develop his body and gain weight and muscle, but his defensive skills are evident and he and Embiid in the frontcourt are not going to be a friendly sight for opponents in the future.

But why be on board with Sam Hinkie and the direction the franchise is going? Is it because we have no other choice and that believing in something is better than not believing at all? I think that’s true for the most part, but I also do personally believe in this plan. Having beyond awful basketball for the next two to three years is a fair sacrifice so that the Sixers are able to prosper for the next ten years after. I also believe in Brett Brown as a head coach. He’s coaching a bunch of college level guys and trying to get them to play together and improve on a night-to-night basis. His record as a coach is not even close to a direct correlation for the caliber of coach he will become when there is finally a real NBA team in front of him. Right now it’s really no fun being a Sixers fan. But if I had the chance to go back to draft night 2013 and stop Sam Hinkie from trading Jrue Holiday and dismantling the franchise I love so dearly; 100 out of 100 times I’m letting him dial up the Pelicans and make that deal.

Keep calm and Hinkie on my fellow Sixer fans, greener pastures are coming.

@jeff_berest