The Philadelphia 76ers were once the laughingstock of the NBA and rightfully so. Sam Hinkie had a vision that no one beside him saw. It was crazy, yet genius at the same time. Hinkie wanted to blow up a playoff team and build a foundation from the ground up before certain contracts became too large for the 76ers to handle. Out the door was Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday and in return, the 76ers gobbled up draft picks for the future.
With blowing a team up comes losses and the Philadelphia 76ers had their fair share of them. In the process of doing so also came high lottery picks in which Hinkie proved his worth, but yet no one understood his vision.
The selections of Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric, and Joel Embiid brought cheers for the new look Philadelphia 76ers but each came with a warning label attached. Noel and Embiid came in injured, Saric was still overseas which left Okafor as the man to hold it down until the rest of the pieces were ready. However, during the waiting period, Hinkie was let go and the team was handed over to Bryan Colangelo and that’s where everything changed.
As injured players began to get healthy, Colangelo had decisions to make. With a crowded frontcourt, some players had to be moved. With Embiid as the face of the franchise, that meant that Noel and Okafor had to go. This is where Colangelo was supposed to show his experience and prove he’s just as good, if not better, at making deals than Hinkie.
Noel was the first to go but Colangelo waited entirely too long to trade the defensive big man. Instead of banking on his talents when teams were in desperation mode for a serviceable rim protector, Colangelo held on and the outcome was a miserable deal, according to Sports Illustrated, with the Dallas Mavericks for a protected first-round pick, Andrew Bogut, and Justin Anderson. What makes this deal so heartbreaking is that a deal involving Noel should have brought more value to the team. Bogut was released, Anderson is seldom used, and that pick won’t amount to anything. The 76ers let 10.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks walk out the door for crumbs.
This is where Hinkie was needed. He was the master at getting not only what the Philadelphia Sixers wanted, but what they needed. Colangelo only sees the bottom line while Hinkie saw the future. With Noel gone, the next order of business was Okafor. This is where Colangelo really dropped the ball. Okafor was one of the hottest names on the trade market and instead of getting a huge haul for him, Colangelo waited almost an entire season before striking a deal. The deal with the Brooklyn Nets should have worked out in the Sixers’ favor. Instead, they were left looking like rookies in negotiations. What Colangelo essentially gave up in the Okafor deal was a No. 3 pick (Okafor), a No. 8 pick (Nik Stauskas), and a 2019 second-round pick for Trevor Booker who will be gone at the end of this season.
If that wasn’t enough, it was the ultimate mishandling of a trade in recent NBA history that should have gotten Colangelo fired. The Boston Celtics weren’t too interested in the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft so they put out feelers to see which team would be willing to mortgage a bit of their future. You guessed it, Colangelo took a bite of the forbidden fruit and gave up a pick that proved how valuable Hinkie was to the process. Colangelo traded away one of the 76ers most coveted future picks (Lakers 2018 first round) to Boston along with their 2017 No. 3 pick just to take Markell Fultz, who neither the Lakers nor Celtics wanted to begin with.
What made this so intriguing was that the Philadelphia 76ers had planned on using Ben Simmons at the point guard position and snagged J.J. Redick for $23 million, so why was Fultz that important to give away two top picks for a player you didn’t need and one who was going to be there at No. 3 anyway?
It may have taken a while for Hinkie’s vision to come to light but it took only three moves for Colangelo to screw the entire process up.