There’s no telling exactly what Sam Hinkie had in mind when he made his slow-moving, revolutionary plan to rebuild the mediocre 76ers franchise through a super tank that would last more than for seasons.
But Adrian Wojnarowski’s report Saturday night, confirming speculation for over a day that the Sixers had struck a deal with the Celtics for the first overall pick seems like a kind of satisfaction — relatively speaking — for long suffering Philly fans. Validation, one might say, that Hinkie may have known what he was doing. And hope that The Process is turning a corner.
Wojnarowski now says, (after early conflicting reports) that “Besides its 2017 FRP, Philly sends ’18 Lakers pick w/ protections. If it doesn’t convey, 76ers send 2019 Kings pick.” All three acquired in trades made by the former GM of the Sixers Hinkie. The Celtics will get the Lakers pick if it falls between 2 and 5 in the 2018 draft. If not, the Celtics will get the Kings first rounder in 2019.
The current regime, led by Bryan Colangelo, had Markelle Fultz in Camden earlier Saturday evening where he worked out and met with Sixers’ brass — even posing for a photo with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Robert Covington, on hand to watch the presumptive No. 1 overall pick shoot the three and throw down punishing dunks. Countless profiles have been written in recent days about the trancendent talent of the 19-year-old guard from Maryland.
After his work out, Fultz — who already owned a Sixers hat and wore it to the work out — said of the possibility of going to Philly: “It would be pretty cool. Just being with a young team. The upside of it would be crazy. I’m close to home, so a lot of my family can come out and just show love. This city has great fans.”
The move means 2017 will mark the second straight year the Sixers will pick first overall, after picking third overall in 2014 and 2015.
Few can fault the Celtics for lining their pockets with even more ammunition in assets, with two valuable likely lottery picks in the next two seasons in addition to the Nets pick in 2018. They will be able to pick a high-impact player like Josh Jackson at No. 3 while also making serious pays at veteran superstars like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler. Boston GM Danny Ainge now has the following picks to play with (assuming Woj is right) — in addition to a line up that got the team one round from the NBA Finals a few weeks ago:
2017 PHI 1st
2018 BOS 1st
2018 LAL 1st
2018 BKN 1st
2019 BOS 1st
2019 LAC 1st
(or if Lakers pick doesn’t convey in 2018) 2019 SAC 1st
2019 MEM 1st
That’s eight first round picks over the next three drafts.
The Sixers now will have the core for their contemplated contention in Simmons, Embiid, Dario Saric and Fultz — the big and two-way paying point guard from Washington — as well as a ton of cap room to play with.
When the four players become eligible for contract extensions in three or four years, the team will likely catapult their salary into the luxury taxable theshhold, a small price to pay for contending for championships (the Cavaliers are among the teams over the cap due to the NBA’s rules allowing teams to pay more to their own free agents).
The NBA Draft takes place Thursday at 7 p.m. when the selection of Fultz will become official.