Breaking Down The Trade That Sent Nerlens Noel To Dallas

As I sit here and write this I glance out my window. The sun is out and it’s 73 degrees in February. Yet for some reason morale isn’t as high as it should be. It’s like there is this ominous, imaginary cloud looming over Philadelphia. This is because for the umpteenth time in this new era of Sixers basketball, it appears they have taken a step backward. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia may be the name of a popular TV show but ask any Sixers fan and I’ll bet they beg to differ.

Yesterday was the NBA trade deadline. Let me first rewind a couple weeks back to what the general consensus was regarding what the Sixers would do. Joel Embiid looks great when he’s healthy, he’s hurt now but we’re definitely keeping him. A stud in the making, he’s not going anywhere. Nerlens Noel might not be the best rebounder and he certainly doesn’t intimidate on offense, but at 22 he’s an elite defender and has shown great improvement as someone who can be a defensive stalwart for a long time, health considered as always. Plus, he’s been here for four years and while he’s had his moments of immaturity (what 22 year old hasn’t?) he’s handled the losing situation as well as anyone could and actually seemed like he enjoyed and embraced playing in Philadelphia, especially as of late. Jahlil Okafor hasn’t played as well as the other two bigs. He doesn’t defend well and his effort and passion is questioned at times. Yes he can be a potential 20 point scorer but with a big man logjam he appears to be the odd man out. That’s not to say Jahlil can’t be a valuable NBA player though. He’s only 21 and was a third overall pick. Maybe a change of scenery would be best for all parties involved. No hard feelings, no harm no foul. Despite his underwhelming play, his attractive contract situation and age and potential should still make him quite valuable to other NBA teams. Or so one would think. Best of luck Jahlil, but you’re going to be traded.

o-nerlens-570

Nerlens seemed to enjoy representing Philly basketball…

And what actually happens? They keep Okafor, trade Noel…DUH! Not only did they trade Noel, they traded him to the Mavericks for a lottery protected, first round pick. That pick is all but certain to end up not even being a first round pick but instead dissolve into two second round picks. They did however get a player too, Justin Anderson. Anderson is a 6’6 wing player who is known for his length (7 foot wingspan) and defense as he’s able to D up other big bodies on the wing. But 20 teams passed on Anderson in the 2015 draft. And he couldn’t crack the Mavs rotation… and Dallas is 22-34. Quite like Jahlil Okafor, league insiders believe that Anderson just needed a change of scenery, which he was given with being traded to the Sixers.

Honestly, I’m not even mad the Sixers traded Noel. He figures to ask for and receive close to, if not a maximum contract. If the Sixers didn’t think he would be an essential part of a championship contending team then I can live with that. Plus, if they plan on having Embiid be their center long term then they just aren’t going to pay big money to two centers. Wasn’t going to happen. I like Nerlens too and am a fan of his but at the end of the day I just want the Sixers to be a winner and if they think they have to get rid of certain players to get there then I’m fine with that. What ENRAGES me however is the compensation they received for Noel. Two second round picks? I’d rather have two sides of cheese for my bucket of crab fries. Justin Anderson can be a solid player, heck maybe he can be elite for all I know. But he was drafted 21st overall and as previously mentioned couldn’t get playing time on a crappy team. Nerlens would have been the de facto number 1 pick in his draft had he not get injured prior. It’s not that I’m down on Anderson but it’s just impossible and straight up foolish to say his value equals anything close to Nerlens Noel. I get it, the Sixers had to move him if they weren’t going to pay him instead of getting nothing, but they should have figured this out and acted on it sooner. Also, here’s a thought, why not just pay him? If they gave him a near max or max deal as long as he plays how he’s playing he would still be trade-able in the future. You don’t think a team would take on his contract if they thought he was an important fit? The fact that he was a restricted free agent is what hurt his value because he could leave after the season but why inflict pain on yourself for another teams problem? ALSO, Joel Embiid missed TWO whole seasons before playing this year. He STILL  hasn’t proven he can stay on the court with a minute restriction, let alone for a full NBA season. AM I TAKING CRAZY PILLS? I love the dude, I really love Embiid but let’s be honest he’s injury prone. Knowing this and trading Nerlens Noel for what they did is just stunning to me. It’s baffling how these near max contract guys can be moved for such low returns. Demarcus Cousins potentially could have signed a contract worth 209 million dollars and gets traded for what many believe to be a low return. Nerlens Noel expects to sign a huge deal and gets traded for a couple second round picks and a dude drafted 21st overall. But then again I’m just a dude who blogs so what do I know? Bryan Colangelo was hired because he’s a “basketball guy” with better connections and relations with teams than Sam Hinkie and thus would be better suited to work out favorable deals. What happened to that?

As I sit here and finish this up today, not only is Nerlens Noel gone, word is that Joel Embiid will be out “indefinitely”. Ben Simmons will also be shut down for the rest of the year. Out of their last four top picks only Jahlil Okafor is currently playing on a regular basis. I’m not here to compare Sam Hinkie and Bryan Colangelo but I’ll say that with Hinkie even if we stunk at least there seemed to be a plan in place that would inevitably be fruitful to us in the future. Where we stand now, I’m not so sure if there’s even a plan. If there is it’s not very transparent and keeping  fans in the dark after this many seasons of intentional losing is disgraceful. It’s so frustrating because the Sixers tried to be bad these past few years so they can get these “assets”. Assets have turned to suspects. The Sixers suck at sucking. And that sucks.

Jahlil Okafor Continues To Give 0 Fucks, Caught Speeding

It hasn’t been a pretty holiday weekend for Sixers rookie Jahlil Okafor, but then again when has anything related to Philly’s pro basketball team looked pretty recently? But now rather than a minor slip up, Okafor seems closer to a full on Britney melt down.

“Okafor was stopped by police on the Ben Franklin Bridge about three weeks ago for going 108 mph, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Going over 40 mph on the bridge, which spans the Delaware River and connects Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey, is considered reckless driving, according to the report.

This is not Okafor’s only run-in this season.

Boston police announced this weekend that a man filed a report claiming that he was the victim in a fight with Okafor outside a nightclub early Thursday morning. That department had said Friday that it wouldn’t investigate the incident unless someone came forward.

And in October, a heckler pointed a gun at Okafor’s head following a verbal exchange at a Philadelphia club, the Inquirer reported.”

Alright alright first things first that as someone who has traveled over the Philadelphia bridges quite frequently nobody really follows the 40 mph thing. But 108?! Damn boy, as Fat Joe once said in ‘what’s luv?’, “slow down baby!”. Plus it’s the end of the month, officers have to fill their quota (duh). I was happy Okafor threw down with that loser in Boston, at least someone in Philly isn’t happy about playing for a loser. As a fan, I want to see some fire (and also some brain cells but passion is dope too). To me it’s either that Okafor is genuinely upset and struggling from transitioning from a powerhouse in Duke to a laughing stock in the Sixers, or the dude just really doesn’t give a fuck and wants nothing to do with this sad team. Hopefully it’s the former, Okafor coming out of college was perceived as a “good kid” (I love that phrase, brings me back to my own college days) with little off the court baggage. All jokes aside I hope the big  fella can figure it out, once this seasons misery is concluded it’s actually time to start building this thing up and start competing going forward. The Sixers are going to have a gaggle of high draft picks and there’s some promising talent coming out this year so there’s still reason for optimism, it’s just a shame that you literally have to endure full seasons of not trying to get there. Once the talent comes, fans will too, Gratzfeed guarantees that and if there is one thing we known it’s that Philly fans will pay whatever money they have to in order to see a winning professional team.

12.jpg

You can check out the full story right here:

http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/14248533/jahlil-okafor-philadelphia-76ers-stopped-speeding-ben-franklin-bridge

Gratzfeed Special: Sixers Draft In Review

Ok so it’s Monday and we’ve all had a few days to digest what Sam Hinkie and company have done with their latest attempt to make basketball in Philadelphia relevant again. I was actually driving down the shore during the draft but had my radio turned all the way up for the entire way down, listening intently and trying to learn as much about this years draft as possible. During typical bro talk, the same question often came up, “what do you think about the Sixers?” Well, let’s break it down, shall we?

The Good: The Sixers got a very talented player with tremendous upside who can be an elite big man in the league for years to come. Although Jahlil Okafor was selected third overall, it wasn’t farfetched to argue that he should have gone second or even first. Although he was only a college freshman his arsenal of low post moves resembled a perennial NBA all star. He also proved himself as a winner, being the best player on a Duke team that won the NCAA championship. Additionally, this gives the Sixers some flexibility in regards to their big men. With recent news that Joel Embiid’s foot isn’t healing as expected, they at least now have another potential stud big to pair with Nerlens Noel for however long Embiid is dealing with whatever the hell is wrong with him.

Finally, another positive is that they passed on Latvian mystery man Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis garnered a lot of hype for himself as we got closer and closer to draft night, and maybe for good reason. Although it wasn’t the NBA, he did play, and played well, in a talented league overseas. He has a lot of potential as he’s super tall (maybe even taller than 7 foot) with a deadly outside shot. People have said he could be the next Dirk. So why was passing on Porzingis a good thing? Well, he very well could be a great player in the NBA, but frankly the Sixers weren’t in a position where they needed to take the risk. Even though he could be a scary force, so could Jahlil Okafor, so why wouldn’t you take the guy who you’ve seen first hand dominate consistently in the NCAA and could scout easier over a guy who just really started to gain hype a couple of weeks before the draft. Yeah we saw Porzingis draining three pointers, but it was literally against the air. He’s totally too skinny and still needs to put on a lot of weight, which is much easier said than done. The bottom line is yeah, maybe he is the next Dirk, but maybe he’s the next Darko Milicic or Andrea Bargnani, and quite frankly the 3rd overall pick in a talented pool isn’t where you take that type of risk.

150626005812-jahlil-okafor-post-draft-shoot.main-video-player

The Bad: The Sixers didn’t get D’Angelo Russell. Lets face it, this is the guy who everyone in Philadelphia really wanted, badly. The Sixers need a guard more than a drunk person needs Wawa at 2 am and that’s really, really badly. Despite this need, they did little to address their backcourt situation with their other picks. With their first of 5 second round picks they drafted a big man from overseas only to trade him to the Knicks. Then with their following two picks they drafted two more big men, one being Richaun Holmes, a complete project from Bowling Green who doesn’t figure to matter anytime soon and the other being a big man from Lithuania who also doesn’t seem to have any real relevance. They then took 6’6 small forward J.P. Tokoto, who actually has some promise, but he still isn’t a guard and is a long shot at best. Why not take a flier on a shooter or any type of guard who can improve the backcourt down the road instead of stockpiling big men in an already way too crowded logjam of centers and power forwards? The Sixers were said to have had interest in putting together some of their second round picks and trying to get back into the first round, but they never did which is disappointing. Listen, nobody expects much from second round picks, but still with an extremely deep pool of young frontcourt prospects, taking a few guards for a spin couldn’t have hurt.

The Bottom Line: It’s too early to really have a strong opinion one way or another on this draft. The Sixers didn’t do anything great or special, but at least they didn’t blow it. I think you have to look at this one as the glass half full because there wasn’t anything they could have done about not getting Russell. Emmanuel Mudiay I believe is going to be a stud but he does carry some risk, and with Embiid’s situation the way it is, Okafor makes total sense. This reminds me of the Eagles offseason, people were freaking out when they traded LeSean McCoy…until they signed DeMarco Murray. There was a complete void at wide receiver after not resigning Maclin… until they drafted Nelson Agholar. Right now, the Sixers plan isn’t as crystal clear as it could have been, but it’s also far from the impending train wreck it could have been either after picking a very good big man. We still have to wait and see with Embiid’s foot, that impacts a lot of things. I also still think if he ends up being healthy the Sixers could trade any one of the three big dudes, with Noel actually being the most likely to go, but who knows at this point. It would have been great to get Russell, but Okafor could be a blessing in disguise, he can really be a special player in this league. Now that they have their newest pieces or as everyone likes to say “assets” it’s time for Sam Hinkie to devise a plan accordingly. The Sixers didn’t really “win” this draft, but they didn’t blow their future either, and nowadays as a Philly fan, not blowing it is a “W” in itself.

Grade (as of now): B+