Basketball Guys Making Business Decisions

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Once upon a time, Hasheem Thabeet was a poster-worthy young prospect.

Yesterday, Sam Hinkie pulled off just about the most Hinkie-like trade you could imagine: giving away nothing and receiving cash in return. Remember when you were dozing off in your freshman year economics class, the professor brought up the topic of arbitrage with the age-old saying ‘there’s no such thing as free lunch’, and you got to thinking which rec hall you’d hit up at the end of the hour? Well, Sam Hinkie laughs at simple economic concepts like that one. The Sixers traded away a highly protected 2nd-round pick (with the protections, it will never change hands, so it’s essentially nothing), receiving Hasheem Thabeet and cash considerations in return.

The next immediate bit of news was that the Sixers would waive Thabeet, as his contract became guaranteed for this season if he was still on a roster by September 1st. By waiving the former 2nd overall pick, nothing will count against the Sixers’ cap as a result of doing this deal, and they receive the cash considerations from the Thunder for nothing. From Oklahoma City’s perspective, they receive a $1.25 trade exemption by trading Thabeet rather than just releasing him themselves. For a Thunder organization very concerned with avoiding the luxury tax, that little trade exemption could mean the difference in being able to make a deal at the trade deadline.

Still, while I’m not saying the Sixers should have kept Thabeet (5 years into his NBA career, we pretty much know what he is at this point), would it have really been the worst thing in the world if they did? Is the team that confident in Henry Sims and Jarvis Varnado that it couldn’t pay $1.3M to find out if there was any small shred of hope in a former 2nd overall pick being a viable NBA player? That’s basically the only issue I have with the team under the Hinkie regime: it’s willing to take big risks with it’s draft picks, but not small ones with the wallet.

At some point, the team is going to have to fill out the roster with someone other than their own draft picks and undrafted free agents making the rookie minimum. While I recognize the value in having cap space, the Sixers have taken that idea to the extreme, at the expense of seeing what some guys have who, while still young, have a few years experience in the league but perhaps haven’t found the right fit. I would really have liked to see the team pursue guys like Ed Davis, Kent Bazemore, or Chris Singleton. Sure, they might cost a couple million dollars instead of under a million, but I think they have a much higher chance to turn into someone valuable than the Casper Ware’s of the world. Hinkie and company have been making all the right moves financially; whether they’re also the best moves from a basketball standpoint, remains to be seen.

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