The Philadelphia 76ers spent the last three seasons intentionally sucking for a reason: To turn draft assets and young talent into stars, either via development, trades, or free-agent signings.
But they unceremoniously oustered Sam Hinkie, the architect of "The Process," in favor of a more traditional front office vision.
Now it looks like new president and general manager Bryan Colangelo is on the verge of trading those years of sacrifice for virtually nothing.
According to The Vertical's Shams Charania, the 76ers are in discussions with the Atlanta Hawks regarding a trade that involves Philly's rim-protecting youngster Nerlens Noel and the ATL's Jeff Teague.
Atlanta and Philadelphia are discussing a deal centered on a Jeff Teague and Nerlens Noel package, league sources tell The Vertical.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 2, 2016
On the surface, if you blur your eyes to the brink of permanence and drown yourself in liquor, such a deal almost makes sense. With the presence of Jahlil Okafor and the impending debut of Joel Embiid, the Sixers have a glut of big men. And they desparately need a point guard.
But beyond that, unless there are a few other big pieces that have yet to be reported on, there's zero upside for Philly here. Teague is entering the last year of his contract, after which he'll be an unrestricted free agent who, I'm just guessing, would rather not play on a team comprised of four and a half NBA players and two handfuls of D-Leaguers. So a year from now, Philly likely wouldn't have Teague nor Noel. And even if he did choose to stay, despite some solid numbers Teague is essentially a league-average point guard who contributes little in the way of defense.
Noel, on the other hand, has shown promise as an energetic defender, averaging 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks per game through his first two seasons. He's also entering the last year of his contract, but because he's still on a rookie deal, the Sixers have the ability to match any offer sheet he might sign. At 22, he has plenty of potential to develop into a star, which most sane individuals would classify as more valuable than a middling 28-year-old point guard who can bolt after a season. And of Philly's trio of coveted big men—Embiid, Okafor, and Noel—the latter is the only one that could reasonably share the floor with either of the other two thanks to his mobility and defense.
Maybe there's more to this trade than has been reported. But if the Sixers really are in "win-now" mode, I doubt they're looking for more draft picks to hoard, and beyond draft picks the Hawks have little else to offer (one year of Kyle Korver is about the best "sweetener" on their roster). So unless Atlanta is giving up Paul Millsap as well (they're not), it looks like Philly is ready to transition from intentionally incompetent to unintentionally incompetent.