June 27, 2013 was when everything changed. New General Manager Sam Hinkie pulled the trigger on a blockbuster move, trading starting point guard Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for a 2014 first-rounder and lottery pick Nerlens Noel and then selecting Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th pick.
After half a season of mediocre play with the 2014 NBA Draft in mind, Hinkie committed fully to the tank, trading Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes away for several second-round picks. With two potential lottery picks and a plethora of second-rounders in the upcoming draft, it appears the Sixers are in prime position to rebuild the franchise through an influx of prime, young talent.
Despite knowing that the Sixers are currently committed to building the roster through the draft, with prospects like Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, and Jabari Parker likely to be available when the Sixers are on the clock this summer, many fans ponder the possibility of attracting high-priced, big-name free agents to the Wells Fargo Center to play with this young core.
Brett Brown silenced the proponents of such a plan, albeit a minority of the Sixers fanbase, recently after a loss to the Houston Rockets; that was the team’s 26th and final straight loss since early February. According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Brown remarked, “It’s all aligned to we are not going to be pursuing free agents for a while. We are about development. Once the alignment with development collides with a bunch of other things in the program, then you can start talking about free agents.”
Not only is Philadelphia a relatively cold destination right now, as the always candid Brown made sure to point out, but signing a well-known free agent to a max deal is not how Sam Hinkie seems to envision the Sixers’ rebuilding process. With the amount of resources invested in the draft, it is clear the Sixers will be able to assemble considerable talent. If we can talk hypotheticals, it is possible that the Sixers’ roster could contain Thaddeus Young, Nerlens Noel, MCW, Andrew Wiggins, Doug McDermott, and James McAdoo next year. With player development and time to let the young prospects gel, the Sixers can have a very dangerous roster in a few years without allocating a lot of money to a player who will likely do nothing more than break up the chemistry of a young team.
That does not even take into account the players who actually make up the 2014 NBA free agent class. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony? Not a chance. While a mid-priced free agent like Greg Monroe, a talented, young power forward, might seem to make sense on the surface, paying him a lot of money to excel on a team just looking to develop its young talent would be counterproductive.
Nothing about the Sixers points to splurging in free agency: neither logic nor the organization’s own words seem to suggest a big free agent signing in 2014.