The Philadelphia 76ers have seven picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. While some of these picks — especially the second rounders — could be traded, the rebuilding process is set to go through another stage this summer. In addition to that, the Sixers should have roughly $25 million in cap space come free agency.
It is a summer that will define the future success of the franchise. Does general manager Sam Hinkie try and speed up the rebuilding process by overpaying high level free agents or does he stay pat; pick up good role players on solid deals and continue to slowly climb the ranks of the NBA?
We have seen in New Orleans and Cleveland — although Cleveland’s ineptness was bailed out by some lottery luck — that trying to speed up rebuilding jobs too quickly can end with a stench of mediocrity.
Let’s look at New Orleans first. After trading with the Sixers and giving up their 2013 and 2014 draft picks for a borderline All-Star, they went out and signed Tyreke Evans for more than $40 million. And while a core of Jrue Holiday/Evans/Eric Gordon/Anthony Davis isn’t bad, it probably isn’t going to be a top-four team in the West anytime soon. Had the Pellies been a little more patient, perhaps they could have picked up a future-altering freshman on a cheap rookie deal and put Anthony Davis in a better position for long-term success.
Then onto the Cavs. Like the Sixers, they tore the house down and built through the draft. Despite that, they just didn’t have the patience to see it through. They went out and signed Jarrett Jack; Andrew Bynum and Earl Clark for decent money before making mid-season trades for Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes — giving up future assets for a half-season rental. Not the move a rebuilding franchise should be making. Luckily for the Cavs they managed to win the lottery regardless, meaning their mis-management was rewarded, and it now looks like they can’t fail.
Back to the Sixers. What can they learn from this?
Sam Hinkie set a precedent and wants to rebuild this team through the draft. The value in free agency for players that would actually come to Philadelphia is pretty low. The Sixers need to be patient and continue to do what they are doing: Acquiring young talent and other assets at low value and trading it in or developing it into something better. They must continue to build through the draft.
Where the Pelicans are perhaps a bad example, the Oklahoma City Thunder should be a good example. Throughout their rebuilding years they never really panicked. They believed in their core; believed in their project and beloved in the guy drafting the talent. If the Sixers are to become the new Thunder, Sam Hinkie is going to have to nail this offseason, and in his short time with the franchise, he certainly looks up to it.
They won’t sign LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh this offseason, but the Philadelphia 76ers will still be an intriguing team to watch as the forward thinking general manager makes his next move on the title track.