We are hours away from the 2018 NBA draft and it is shaping up to be an exciting night. On some years we practically have consensus agreement on how the lottery will turn out. This year is not one of those years. With mega stars like Kawhi Leonard, Lebron, and Paul George all potentially joining new teams this summer, it would be a surprise to nobody if there were some big trades tonight.
Personally, I think the stars have aligned for the Sixers to make such a trade. Philadelphians have been “trusting the process” for years now. We’ve sat through Hollis Thompson, we’ve held our breath waiting to see what became of Okafor/Nerlens, and we once thought Embiid would never be healthy enough to live up to his potential.
So much has changed headed into this off-season. The Sixers no doubt made upgrades last year. Nominal upgrades, but ones that helped the team reach the playoffs. JJ Redick was the most notable acquisition and the team ended up over-performing expectations and of course ultimately lost in the Eastern Conference semi finals. While the Redick signing was a great step towards winning, now that this team has shown glimpses of what they could be – the time is right to make a bigger move. That move is trading for Kawhi.
Kawhi Obviously Wants Out
It was long known that Kawhi wanted out of San Antonio. We still don’t know all the details, but the writing has been on the wall and is all but confirmed now with Pop meeting Kawhi in LA and Woj tweeting that the Spurs are listening on offers. So stating that Kawhi wants out is just stating the obvious, but should’t that have an impact on trade negotiations?
With one year left on his deal, every NBA executive knows that the Spurs will have to make an agreement at some point. They might hold out for a better offer, but ultimately they’re going to have to take the best deal on the table. If they play their cards right, they could still field a halfway decent squad next season and be in a much better position to rebuild than if they fail to trade Kawhi. They’ll only be able to get so much for him and we all know that.
Brett Brown Is Calling The Shots
Brett running the war room on draft night could play a role in the Sixers landing Kawhi. He has kept close ties with his former boss over the years and is obviously familiar with the ins and outs of his team. Will this matter all that much in the long run? Who knows, but it could be another potential leg up for the Sixers in negotiations.
It may not seem like a big factor, but trades often happen between executives who have spent time in another organization. People stick to what they know, that’s true with anything.
It is also worth keeping in mind that the Spurs are said to be looking to trade Kawhi out of the Western Conference if a trade is made.
The Sixers Have Assets
When discussing a Kawhi trade scenario, people generally bring up how much potential the team would have to part with in order to bring in a one year rental. There’s merit to this argument, but ultimately I find this silly.
Could Fultz end up being the player we thought he would be? Of course. He’s one of the youngest players in the league and has already recorded a triple double. Could Kawhi bail at the end of the season? He could and it seems likely he will at this stage. But at the end of the day, the bottom line is that the Sixers are in a position to contend for a championship if they made this trade. Sure, if they gave up Fultz, the 10th pick, and one of Covington/Dario it would be quite the price to pay for one guaranteed year of Kawhi. On the flip side, the Sixers now have two of the top 10 defensive players in the league while bringing in a shooter that this team desperately needs.
On top of that, the Sixers instantly open themselves up to other big name free agents. Perhaps they lure Lebron on a three year deal, they could round out the bench at a discount, but no matter what they instantly become favorites to win the Eastern Conference.
You Can’t Bank On The Future In Sports
The most important thing to remember in all of this is just how quickly things can change in sports. Veteran process trustees are so accustomed to looking at a player’s future and seeing what they could be. We had to wait for Simmons and Embiid who both look like they could be perennial “All-NBA” team members. Looking at the bright side is great, but you have to factor in the worst case scenarios.
What if Simmons never develops anything resembling a jump-shot and becomes easy to contain? What if Embiid gets hurt again? We all collectively hold our breath whenever he hits the deck, so why not bring in an expensive insurance policy?
Things can change fast and real life sports aren’t like video games. Just because Markelle Fultz has the potential to be great doesn’t mean that he will be. Even if he does have a good NBA career, there is no guarantee that he will ever develop his jump-shot. What good is Fultz to the Sixers if he essentially just turns out to be a poor man’s Ben Simmons?
There was a time where we thought he Dwight Howard Magic would be doing great things, we thought the Nationals would have won a World Series by now, and it took the Capitals plenty of misery to finally get their ring. The Sixers are in a unique position where they don’t have Simmons on a max contract and can afford to gamble. Its time to cash in the chips and go for broke. Complete the process, there are no guarantees that things will turn out the way they should.
So by the time the draft ends, the Sixers will get Kawhi for Fultz, Covington and the 10th pick. Covington fits well with the Spurs and we all know the Spurs have to make a deal at some point. If Dario has to go instead of Covington, then that sucks but that trade should be made as well.
That’s whats going down. In a few hours I’ll either be a genius who can tell the future or be getting retweeted by OldTakesExposed. There’s no in between.