Unless you were completely absorbed by the aftermath of the Chip Kelly – Howie Roseman power struggle down at the NovaCare Complex, you probably are aware that the 76ers won two straight games over the weekend and have now won 3-of-their-last-4. Hell, this team has actually looked halfway decent at times over this recent four game stretch
Meanwhile in Gotham, the Knicks have lost 15 straight, now own the NBA’s worst record at 5-35 and are in full blown tank mode. As you know, last week the Knicks traded Iman Shumpert as well as JR Smith to Cleveland and waived former 76er Samuel Dalembert. This morning, ESPN.com is reporting that the “Zen Master” is, “actively trying to trade veterans Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani”.
Additionally, over the weekend the Celtics (12-23; but 2-8 in their last 10 games) traded Jeff Green, their starting small forward and leading scorer (17.6 ppg.) to Memphis in a three team deal that netted Boston Austin Rivers (Who reportedly will be waived or traded.) and a future 1st round pick.
Throw in the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves (5-31 and losers of 15 straight) and the 2014-15 tank track is suddenly very crowded. The additional bad news is that the upward trending 76ers are currently sitting 3rd in the race for the most ping pong balls.
Sam Hinkie is likely not very excited about the recent winning ways of the 76ers as it goes against everything he plotted and arranged for this season. So I have to ask Mr. Hinkie, “Where do we go from here?”
If Hinkie remains steadfast in his tanking ways the answer is simple, “We stay the course.” The 76ers recent run of success has come against the Cavaliers, Nets and Pacers. All three of those teams were missing key players, were playing poorly and were dealing with some level of internal drama when they suffered humiliating defeats at the hands of our 1-2-3-4-5-Sixers.
With games against the Atlanta Hawks who own the best record in the East (29-8) on Tuesday night; then at Toronto on Wednesday evening; and in New Orleans on Friday night vs. Anthony Davis and the rising Pelicans; these winning ways are certainly short lived. In fact, the rest of the 76ers schedule this month is a difficult march. If I take off my red, white and blue shades for a minute, I can clearly see only two more potential wins (vs. NYK & vs. MIN of course) for this team before the calendar hits February. So the schedule is working in Hinkie’s favor should he choose to stay the course with his tanking plan.
Of course staying the course also means that Hinkie will have to trade one or more of the players on the current roster. It’s the only way to guarantee the winning stops and add more future assets. Last week, the rumor mill already had Tony Wroten’s days in Philadelphia numbered. I think a contender might also be interested in dealing for a big with a smooth shooting stroke like Henry Sims. If I was Hinkie, I’d be interested in exploring Robert Covington’s value on the trade deadline market as well. If Hinkie wants to insure that the 76ers franchise has the most ping pong balls at the 2015 NBA Draft Lottery, than one or more of these players will have to be moved.
On the other hand, if Hinkie recognizes the momentum building within this team, is content to let this 2014-15 season play out with the current roster intact and thus settle for a Top 10 draft pick come June, things could get very interesting here in Philadelphia. While I only predict two more wins during January for the 76ers, the schedule isn’t as daunting in February and as many as 4 wins could be brought home by the current roster (at BOS; vs. CHA; vs. IND; at ORL). If the Sixers have 13 wins before March, all bets are off as to how high the win total could climb by the end of the season for this young and developing squad.
Hell, maybe Hinkie loses his mind and will go “all in” on the remainder of the 2014-15 season. In that case, he may even add the backup point guard Brett Brown has been clamoring for recently. A guard like, say…former 76ers’ asset Nate Wolters who was recently waived by Milwaukee.
There’s no doubt that the recent stretch of play from the 76ers has been entertaining to watch and encouraging for the future of this franchise, but this run has created some interesting times for the general manager.
So, Sam…Where do we go from here?
You can follow us on Twitter @philadunkia.