I've had some time while driving around Portland to gain some perspective on this Dalembert trade. Some deeper thoughts, and what I hope will be a comprehensive look at the entire story after the jump.
I'm going to start out with bullets, just to get some things squared away.
This trade improves:
- The locker room, possibly. This will be largely dependent on whether Nocioni continues to complain about minutes and Hawes suddenly develops a work ethic. If neither of those things happens, the chemistry aspect of the deal is probably a wash.
- The knock that the Sixers don't have any foreign players. Although Sam was technically a foreign player, so really it's a wash.
- Wing depth. Not that this was really a problem, but the Sixers do now have a guy who can play the three. The Bulls also used Nocioni as a small four, which I wouldn't advise, but he's probably not much worse than Thad in that role.
- The short-term finances of the team. This move may not have completely dropped them below the luxury tax threshold, but it certainly helps. If it does drop them below, we're talking about a savings of maybe $10M when you factor in the dollar-for-dollar savings. I cannot stress the short-term part of this equation enough, however.
- More useless depth in the front court.
- The Sixers on the floor, this season. There is no amount of spin that will change the simple fact that the Sixers have no big man capable of rebounding and/or blocking shots anymore.
- The Sixers financial situation next season. They are on the hook for at least Nocioni's $6.65M contract for 2011-2012. Hawes can either be allowed to expire, signed to his qualifying offer ($4.5M) or extended for more or less than that figure. Dalembert's contract expires after this season, so at best, the Sixers have used up $6.65M of potential cap space/wiggle room under the luxury tax next summer by making this deal. At worst, they've completely replaced Sam's salary with two bench players.
This move is what it is. The Sixers saved some money this season and got rid of a guy they wanted to get rid of. They got completely ass raped and made a stupid, stupid decision, but hey, they can spin it now by saying they've liked Hawes for some time. When you take a look at Hawes, though, it's clear that he's not a viable starter in this league. I don't think he's really even much of an option off the bench. He's a seven-footer who simply cannot rebound enough to play the five (8.2 rebounds/36 minutes is atrocious). About 50% of his shots are jumpers, even though he can't shoot them. He's basically Jason Smith with more minutes and longer arms.
Hawes and Nocioni are both terrible defenders, to boot. If you want a glimpse at what we're getting, take a look at this page. Toughness doesn't mean a whole lot to me if the guy providing it simply cannot play. The Sixers could sign me for the minimum and I could grow a mullet, talk with an Argentinian accent and play no defense out there for much less than the $13.6M they're paying Nocioni over the next two seasons.
I'm trying to be as objective about this trade as possible, but there's no kind way to say this was just utterly stupid. If getting Sam out of that locker room was this important. If it was important enough to take back a bad contract and another soft big man, they would've been better off simply buying Sam out. And finally, if Doug Collins had any say in this trade (and I have to believe he did), he better be pushing extra, extra, extra hard for Derrick Favors with the number two pick in the draft. No amount of coaching is going to turn a front court of Elton Brad, Thaddeus Young, Marreese Speights, Jason Smith and Spencer Hawes into anything better than a laughingstock on the defensive end.
I've read that this trade doesn't change the Sixers' thinking regarding the #2 pick, whether or not I believe that is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that it absolutely should. Doug Collins and Ed Stefanski have been selling us a line about how (a) they're going to focus on defense first and (b) how they're going to turn things around this season. A starting lineup of Jrue, Turner, Iguodala, Thad and Brand will accomplish neither. Unless there are a few more big moves made between now and the beginning of the season, this team is headed back to the lottery. Stefanski is going to be looking for a new job and Collins' grace period will probably last until about Christmas.
For all the people out there who simply wanted Dalembert gone, no matter what the cost, all I can say is careful what you wish for. I've seen what happens to this team when they don't have Dalembert on the floor. It's ugly, and as things stand right now, if Evan Turner is the pick, we're in for 82 games of truly ugly basketball. On the bright side, though, our next GM will probably have at least one top-ten pick to pick up a viable big man next year. Unless Collins can find a way to beat just enough bad teams to get us a pick late in the lottery.