By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
While the NBA’s best players were literally laying down for each other rather than even pretend to play defense in Sunday’s All-Star game, the details of possibly the biggest deal of the NBA season were being finalized down in New Orleans. As a result, the future looks a whole lot brighter for the Philadelphia 76ers.
No, Bryan Colangelo didn’t end up with a windfall in return for Jahlil Okafor. We are still stuck waiting for something to happen on that front leading up to the February 23rd trade deadline.
We do know that Okafor will not be suiting up for the Pelicans any time in the near future. That’s because New Orleans sent Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 1st-round pick, and a 2017 2nd-round pick, to Sacramento for Kings franchise superstar DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi.
In another laughably poor decision by the Vivek Ranadive-Vlade Divac brain trust in Sacramento, the Kings are essentially trading a top-15 player for what will likely be a late lottery pick and Buddy Hield. Hield is only a rookie, so he may someday be a good player. But he’s already 23 years old, never projected to be much more than a one-dimensional shooter, and is shooting 39.2% from the field in his short professional career. The chances that he ever even approaching Cousins’ standing in the league are microscopic.
Meanwhile, the Pelicans are now pairing arguably the two most talented big men in the league for years to come in Cousins and Anthony Davis. I’m sure they are ecstatic that Bryan Colangelo was so concerned about pick protections last week, scuttling the Jahlil Okafor trade talks and opening the door for this far, far superior deal.
Sixers fans should be very happy as well, though, as this deal greatly improves Philadelphia’s long-term prospects. First, thanks to Sam Hinkie, the team has swap rights for the Kings upcoming 2017 1st-round pick. Currently, Sacramento has the 11th-worst record in the league with a corresponding 2.9% chance of jumping into a top-3 position.
However, the Kings are only 2.5 games ahead of the Sixers, who at the moment have the 5th worst record in the NBA. Without Cousins, you have to expect the Kings will plummet down the standings, so it’s not only entirely likely that Sacramento actually finishes below the Sixers, but more and more lottery ball combinations will be coming Philadelphia’s way to try to bring home another top-3 pick.
But wait, there’s more! Hinkie’s fruitful bounty also yields Sacramento’s unprotected 2019 1st-round pick. The Kings have famously missed the playoffs for quite some time, and with Cousins gone and continued incompetence evident at the managerial level, there’s every reason to think Sacramento will be toward the bottom of the standings in 2019. That pick could end up bringing a blue-chip prospect to Philadelphia at a time when the team might be already making its upward ascent. You couldn’t ask for things to break any better from a Sixers perspective.
As it turns out, Bryan Colangelo not living up to his Man of Action moniker actually ended up helping the Sixers. But let’s not forget who supplied all these juicy trade assets in the first place. Even while sipping a Starbucks coffee in Palo Alto, Sam Hinkie is still providing a brighter future for Philadelphia. See you in the 2020 NBA Finals, New Orleans.