The 76ers have reached an inevitable part of general manager Sam Hinkie’s rebuilding effort, as the team finally agreed to trade seven-year veteran Thaddeus Young to the Timberwolves as part of the long-rumored Kevin Love trade, per Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune and confirmed by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.
Cleveland, Minnesota and Philadelphia have completed NBA trade call, source tells Yahoo. Kevin Love has joined LeBron James with the Cavs.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 23, 2014
Minnesota’s Luc Mbah a Moute, Alexey Shved and Miami’s 2015 first-round pick remains the package to Philadelphia for Thaddeus Young.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 23, 2014
The sting of losing such a well-respected, long-tenured, and talent player like Young is minimized a bit when it became obvious last June that Thad’s days as a Sixer were numbered. That idea continued through this year’s trade deadline, the night of the 2014 NBA draft, and the last month or so, as a Love-to-Cleveland deal became assured of going through.
There is more to come in terms of reminiscing about Young’s time in Philadelphia, but the package the Sixers received as a part of this three-team deal is the primary focus of Sixers fans at the moment. Heading to Philly are the expiring contracts of Alexey Shved and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, as well as the centerpiece of the return, a protected 2015 first-round pick from the Heat via the Cavaliers.
Miami’s pick is top-1o protected in both the 2015 and 2016 drafts and is unprotected in 2017 if it has yet to be conveyed. Going by ESPN’s NBA Summer Forecast, the Heat are projected to finish as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference with 44 wins, which leave the Sixers with the 17th pick in the first round in 2015. I think that’s a fair estimate of where to predict the Heat will finish in the standings, as I could realistically see them reaching as high as the third seed in the East if everything were to break right or as a possible late-lottery team if their lack of depth and injury-prone roster fails to perform.
As an additional point of reference as to where the Heat’s pick may fall, the Raptors finish third in the East this past season with 48 wins and had the 20th selection in June’s draft. Conversely, the Nuggets ended the year with 36 wins and fell outside of the Western Conference playoff picture, ultimately landing the 11th pick in the draft, which is the best possible outcome considering this pick’s protection.
This isn’t a Heat team from the past four years. It will rely heavily on Chris Bosh, who has been durable in his career, missing as many as 15 games just once in his NBA career; however, with the mileage of four consecutive Finals runs on his basketball odometer, he unfortunately seems prime for a bit of an age-related drop off, an issue that has plagued two of his injury-plagued teammates, Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng.
Miami’s draft pick seems to be a good return given the current dynamics of the NBA trade market for a player with just a single year remaining on his contract. Soon-to-be free agent Marcin Gortat was dealt to the Wizards from Phoenix for a top-12 protected first rounder last offseason. Omer Asik’s time in Houston ended when he and his expiring deal were sent to the Pelicans for a 2015 first-round selection on the day before this year’s draft.
When Aaron Afflalo was traded on Draft Day for a second-round pick and a fringe prospect in Evan Fournier, I wrote that it signaled that the time of hoping for a first rounder in return for Thad was over, citing their similar contracts, talent level, and previous teams, both of which are in rebuilding mode. I even gave the edge to Afflalo in terms of value given the scarcity of starting shooting guards currently in the league. Given how that transaction played out, the Sixer got a great amount of value back for the much-beloved Thad.
There was a ton of talk of Anthony Bennett being the main return in a deal that sent Young to Minnesota and the current trade could look disappointing in comparison, as getting the first-overall selection in the 2013 draft and a guy who can start immediately is preferable after a rough 2014 season; however, Wojnarowski confirmed that there was never any scenario in which Bennett came to Philly. Looking at the move as “getting a pick possibly in the mid-teens in the 2015 draft” instead of “not getting Anthony Bennett in return” creates a much rosier picture of the trade.
The expiring contracts of Shved and Mbah a Moute (so fun to type) were obviously included to facilitate the necessary salary exchange for the trade to go through, but each brings their own type of flair and role to this Sixers roster.
Shved came to the NBA with a bit of fanfare in the 2013 season after capturing the bronze medal with the Russian national team at the 2012 Olympics with a win over a Manu Ginobili-led Argentinian squad in a 25-pint performance. He has proceeded to have two horrific seasons as a Timberwolf marred by shooting 35.8% from the field in his NBA career, but it’s not exactly as if Minnesota is a haven for basketball development (Derrick Williams, Johnny Flynn, Michael Beasley, and Wesley Johnson would all nod in agreement).
Standing 6’6″, he meets the Hinkie requirement of not allowing any player of below-average height to step on the court. He also wears a shooting sleeve, an immediate plus. Can Brett Brown and his player development gurus work some magic with Shved? It’s extremely doubtful, but maybe he can at leas be a fun player to watch, while altogether not being super productive, in another lost Sixers season if he can do things like this:
The other expiring contract making its way to Philly is that of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, known from here on out as LRMAM. Other than being the player’s name I’m most anticipating to hear Marc Zumoff and Malik Rose say a dozen times per game, he serves as a vital intangible role as a fellow Cameroonian and mentor to Joel Embiid. In a nice announcement on the Sixers’ website, Max Rappaport details the history that LRMAM and Embiid share:
Coincidentally, Mbah a Moute was born in Yaounde, Cameroon, the birthplace of Sixers center Joel Embiid. It was at one of the six-year veteran’s basketball camps in Cameroon that a then 17-year-old Embiid was introduced to the game and discovered by coaches. Since then, Mbah a Moute has served as a mentor of sorts for the 20-year-old, helping him transition to life in the United States, first as a high school player in Florida, then as a freshman at Kansas, and now as a rookie with the Sixers.
Despite how much fun Embiid is on Twitter and how refreshing it is not to see an athlete have a timeline full of cookie cutter quality tweets (here’s looking at you, Nick Foles), he’s still just a 20-year-old kid, much like myself, in need of some guidance of as he adjusts to an NBA lifestyle, not much like myself at all. Having LRMAM on the roster bestows upon him that supportive figure.
It’s not as if he’s devoid of any skill either, as he was subjectively one of the league’s best wing defenders during his years in Milwaukee and can still capably handle defensive assignments. For a team that was 26th in Defensive Rating in 2014, that’s a big plus and gives the Sixers a possible glimmer of hope on that end of the court this season with LRMAM, K.J. McDaniels, and Nerlens Noel all making their Philly debuts this season.
With their longest-tenured veteran gone, the Sixers’s starting five on Opening Night will feature just one returning player from last year’s season opener in Michael Carter-Williams. Losing Young is obviously a huge loss to an already atrocious Sixers team, but the addition of that Miami pick just represents another move in the process of accumulating assets for Hinkie, as he continuously looks to add the most future talent possible for the franchise.