By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
With the 30-day moratorium on an Andrew Wiggins trade up Saturday, we thought news of the long-rumored deal sending Thad Young to the Timberwolves wouldn’t arrive until this weekend. Instead, late Thursday night, while many Philadelphians were already asleep with visions of Nick Foles-to-Zach Ertz touchdown passes dancing in their heads, the almighty Woj bomb was dropped to set things in motion.
As @JerryZgoda 1st reported, Minny’s Luc Mbah a Moute, Alexey Shved and Heat ’15 1st-rounder go to 76ers for Thad Young. Deal done Saturday.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 22, 2014
Speculation had emerged this week that the long-assumed Thad Young-for-Anthony Bennett swap was never close to happening, and that speculation was now confirmed. In lieu of the former top overall pick, the key return for Sam Hinkie and the Sixers will be Miami’s first-round pick (coming to Minnesota from Cleveland in the Love-Wiggins trade). The pick is top-10 protected over the next two drafts; however, even without LeBron James, a Heat squad powered by Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade is expected to be a playoff team in a weak Eastern Conference. As a result, the selection is likely to be conveyed next summer somewhere in the low 20s.
To make the salaries work, Mbah a Moute ($4.4M) and Shved ($3.3M) will be sent to Philadelphia, with both players on the final guaranteed years of their deals. One interesting aspect of this deal is the long-standing relationship between Mbah a Moute and Sixers first-round pick Joel Embiid, with both players natives of Cameroon. Mbah a Moute has long had a reputation as one of the better perimeter defenders in the league, and could net the Sixers a 2nd-round pick from a contender at the trade deadline. If he can help adjust Embiid to the professional game along the way, even better. As for Shved, he’ll fit right in with the bevy of Sixers guards who can’t shoot a lick (35.8 FG% and 29.5 3PT% across his 2 NBA seasons. Maybe Brett Brown and his staff can turn him into something, but I think it’s more likely Shved will be back playing in Europe next season.
With Thad Young having a player option after this season, getting a first-rounder for a player essentially on an expiring deal is a decent return for Sam Hinkie, especially without taking back long-term salary. Young is still in his prime and fairly paid, but unfortunately, his career path does not mesh with the long-term trajectory of the Sixers’ rebuild. Unfortunately for him, although Minnesota will be playing to win this season, I don’t expect them to come anywhere close to sniffing the playoffs in a loaded Western Conference. Expect Thad to work his tail off (as he always does) in what’s basically a contract year, and then sign with a contender next offseason.
As for the Sixers, the roster has now been completely overhauled since Sam Hinkie’s arrival. As pointed out by @tmoore76ers, the player on the roster who has played the most games as a Sixer is last year’s undrafted free agent Hollis Thompson (a whopping 77 games). The only starter still with the team from even just last season is Michael Carter-Williams. With Young, Hawes, and Turner all now elsewhere, it’s entirely possible the Sixers may lose even less games this year than a season ago. With presumably less franchise-changing talent available in the forthcoming draft, a trip to the bottom of the standings doesn’t hold the same appeal it did a year ago. Get and stay healthy Joel and Nerlens, this franchise is going to need you.