The Philadelphia Sixers have been shopping almost their entire team from the moment Sam Hinkie took over. Few veterans survive from the remnants of the team he inherited – even Kwame Brown did not survive the purge, waived despite his guaranteed and expiring contract so as to be able to bring in new young players who could serve as pieces going forward. Overwhelmingly, and unashamedly, the team is young.
Of the veterans who do remain, Jason Richardson can be considered untradeable at this moment; his contract does not expire until 2015, he is out for the season due to injury, and his play so significantly declined prior to the injury that he likely would not be tradeable anyway. However, also on the roster are the incumbent talents of Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes, young enough to still theoretically be core pieces (despite being the second, third and fourth oldest Sixers, all three are only 25 years of age) yet with 15 years of NBA experience under their collective belt that . All three can play, but none, it seems, are a part of Hinkie’s core. All are thus available.
Turner is perhaps the most available of the three. His fit alongside the ball-dominant, poor shooting Michael Carter-Williams and ball-dominant, poor shooting Tony Wroten is a legitimate concern – despite their defense offense until this point, the Sixers backcourt is at times poorly spaced and very lapse defensively, flaws for which Turner is as guilty as anyone. Seemingly rectifying his problems with inconsistency, Turner continues to improve as a player, yet these big weaknesses sustain and are what move him from being a part of the core to a part of the trade package. That said, however, he leads the team in scoring for a reason.
The knock on Turner is often that his star-style game does not behoove his less than star calibre talent level. This is fair enough, up to a point – much more effective with the ball in his hands than without it, Turner is not a primary ball handler on a competitive team – he continues to take inefficient long twos instead of threes, and scores fairly inefficiently from the floor, his lack of great physical tools and automatic jumpshot making all field goals tougher to come by. But Turner is not the Julius Hodge type this description often misleadingly paints him to be. Turner is nonetheless a very good player, a highly capable second or third option through whom offense can be run, a crafty slasher and finisher who also helps out with the rebounding. His man to man defense and rotations really are quite poor, as any team dealing for him will already be aware of, but in the right situation where they can be hidden, Turner can nevertheless help out.
Alongside him at power forward, Young is perhaps the most sought after of the three. A good defender of both forward positions, and one of the few good defenders on the Sixers roster, Young adds much versatility to any roster, along with a mid-range jumper, a dribble-drive game, some post-ups, and slightly improved three point range. Perhaps these are all reasons why the Sixers should keep Young, especially as the other options at his position are scarce - Lavoy Allen is perhaps himself a candidate to be traded, mired in a sophomore slump and seemingly content to remain an inefficient mid-range jumpshooter offensively, while Furkan Aldemir is yet to join the team. Nevertheless, there will be a strong market for Young, a coveted player who benefits any team he is on, and can fit into any situation. If the Sixers can land a Harrison Barnes-type player for him, they should.
Hawes, meanwhile, has earned his way into trade discussions. The one time bust candidate has re-emerged this season playing a career high in minutes, averaging a career low in fouls, and averaging career high numbers across the board (13.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 3.4 apg). Long maligned for his softness and passiveness, particularly defensively, Hawes is nevertheless in somewhat of a breakout campaign, a forgotten man in light of the lamentable acquisition of Andrew Bynum and the even more lamentable loss of Nikola Vucevic who has nonetheless been one of the keys to a surprising 76ers offense with his pick and roll, pick and pop, and tremendous face-up passing skills.
It is often much easier to see a player’s faults than their strengths, particularly when those faults are on the defensive ends, as Hawes’s mostly are. He struggles to defend the post, can be too easily gotten around and outfought, closes out poorly, and reaches too much to compensate for his slow feet. However, these should not belie his strengths as a player, and the sheer production he currently brings. The fact that it is not faultless production does not change the fact that Hawes is a 7 footer who scores regularly, efficiently (despite attempting only two foul shots a game, Hawes is shooting 41% from three point range on four attempts per contest for a .567% true shooting percentage, the best on his career by 50 points). He scores from both inside and out, is not entirely a non-factor defensively (soft as he can be, Hawes nevertheless has a presence through size alone, and has decent shot blocking instincts), and is one of the better offensive centres in the game. Indeed, his expiring contract may actually be somewhat of a bad thing – at this price and this production, teams trading for Hawes would perhaps rather have him tied down.
In exchange for the trio, the Sixers will want to look forward. As evidenced by the Holiday deal and selection of Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia is prepared to go backwards in the present to go forward in the future. Anything that helps them pick higher in the draft is a bonus. In terms of trade yield, this specifically means draft picks, and the team has more than enough salary cap space to use as leverage should said picks need to be coupled with bad contract. The aforementioned available players merit draft picks of some description.
On the flip side, Hawes and Turner are upcoming free agents not eligible for extensions, and Young will hit the free agent market after 2015, expecting (and no doubt receiving) a big contract. Any trade for these players might only be a short term remedy – only Turner is eligible for restricted free agency, and his qualifying offer of $8,717,226 is large enough that extending it is not an easy decision. Yet however short their tenures with their new teams may be, the trio nonetheless would bring immediate quality, a welcome midseason talent infusion to any contending team willing to trade some long term for significant short term. Such situations do exist - imagine Turner as a sixth man in Portland, for example - and the Sixers have all the weapons to capitalise.
This is an era in which rental deals, still so prevalent in baseball, are increasingly harder to come by. Deals like Marcin Gortat to Washington are the exceptions. Yet Philly are the best candidate for any team looking or needing to upgrade. They have the pieces and the desire, and it seems certain that not all of these players will end the season as Sixers.