Sixers do Young no favors

Posted: February 21, 2014

POOR Thaddeus Young.

He will drive to Wells Fargo Center tonight to face the Mavericks, and, most likely, another 30-point loss.

It will be just another lost night in a sea of wasted effort for Young, who is seeing the prime of his career further devalued by the machinations of men in suits who never dribble or shoot.

He will be thinking, "Why couldn't it have been me?"

Less valuable teammates Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen all were traded away at yesterday's deadline, part of a sell-off that now gives the Sixers as many as 10 picks in the next two drafts, including three first-rounders . . . and five players who will not be on the roster after the next two drafts.

Turner, 25, leads the team with 17.4 points per game. He was traded to the Pacers.

Allen, 25, leads the team with 255 pounds, and he also was traded to the Pacers.

Hawes, 25, leads the team with 8.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks and has developed a credible three-point shot. He was traded to the Cavaliers.

Young, 25, leads the team.

He was not traded.

Young is a 6-year veteran who is second on the Sixers in scoring (17.1 points), rebounding (6.2) and steals (2.06), but he leads the team in field-goal percentage (.487); and, more significantly, he leads the team in heart.

That heart must be broken.

Besides various jetsam that lousy teams must accept in transactions such as these, the Sixers also stockpiled two second-round picks in June's draft, as well as an extra second-rounder in 2015 and 2016. Perhaps new Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie, formerly an assistant with the Rockets, can pluck another Chandler Parsons or two from among those second-rounders. Parsons, taken 38th overall by Houston, is fifth in scoring and second in minutes played among 2011 draftees.

Young sat in front of his locker before Tuesday's wipeout by the Cavaliers and addressed the possibility of being traded with appropriate deference . . . but with a strong undercurrent of optimism.

He sighed, shook his head, and stated he liked Philadelphia and his teammates. But, clearly, Young hoped the nightmare of rebuilding was over; that this morning he would be in a city where the team had a chance, at least on the horizon.

This Sixers team doesn't even have a horizon.

Young saw a respectable Sixers team demolished in an all-or-nothing move engineered by former coach Doug Collins, desperate for one last run at an NBA title. After coming within a game of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, the Sixers that summer traded All-Star and Olympic gold medalist Andre Iguodala, as well as athletic Moe Harkless and (who knew) rebounding machine Nikola Vucevic, both first-round picks, plus another first-round pick, for injured Lakers big man Andrew Bynum (and Jason Richardson).

Last summer, Young saw the Sixers trade All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday for injured Nerlens Noel (and a future first-round pick).

It might be the first time in NBA history a team has made its No. 1 offseason priority a center whose knees kept him from playing a single game that season 2 years in a row.

The first deal was a hedged bet, a calculated risk; it's just that the Sixers failed to correctly calculate Bynum's apathy.

The second run of deals was a continuation of bold strikes by Hinkie and the team's new, analytics-edged front office.

In his first draft, Hinkie struck a deal that set the Sixers back at least a season. He took Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th pick, but in doing so he acknowledged that the team would be imperfectly constructed and unlikely to win.

MCW is the rookie of the year favorite, but his development has stalled.

The Sixers are 15-40.

With 27 games left in the season, they will be lucky to hit the 20-win mark.

With 82 games left in next season, they will be lucky to hit the 20-win mark.

In his first trade-deadline appearance, Hinkie gutted the club for at least the rest of this season.

He gutted Young, as well. Young is under contract through next season, after which he can opt out . . . and leave as much as $10 million on the table.

It might be a small price to pay to escape.

As poorly as the Sixers have played, the next 8 weeks could be the worst professional basketball the city has ever seen.

Certainly, neither Turner nor Hawes - both indifferent defenders, both limited on offense - was worth retaining for a long-term rebuilding project.

Turner's game developed little since the Sixers took him with the No. 2 pick in the 2010, despite a fair effort from the 6-7 guard. He could serve nicely as a bench scorer for the Pacers. Allen, a second-round pick in 2011, can serve nicely by using his six fouls per night.

Hawes, meanwhile, can fill two temporary needs in Cleveland. Cavs center Anderson Varejao has back issues, and shooter Dion Waiters hyperextended a knee Tuesday . . . after he dunked all over Hawes.

Young's role in Philadelphia?

Elder statesman. Mr. Work Ethic. Top defender.

Purgatory gatekeeper.

Young will welcome: former Pacers star Danny Granger, coming off a knee injury, with a $14 million, expiring contract; Eric Maynor, a backup point guard who managed to disappoint the Wizards this season; Clippers 7-foot reserve center Byron Mullens, whom the Clips graciously exhumed from their bench's tomb zone and let play Wednesday, ostensibly to prove his existence (the teams swapped second-round picks, too); Earl Clark, a 6-10 Cavs forward now with his fifth team in 5 years; and Clark's teammate, Henry Sims, a 6-10 D-Leaguer who 10 months ago was playing in Pasig City in the Philippines for the San Miguel Beermen.

Right now, the San Miguel Beermen, reigning Association of Southeast Asian Nations champions, might be favored in a series against these Sixers.

Young would sigh, and he would shake his head, and he would play hard in those games, too.


On Twitter: @inkstainedretch


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