At the end of June in 2007 I was walking the streets of Dubrovnic looking for an internet cafe so I could find out who the Sixers would take to help the franchise bounce back from the Allen Iverson trade. Thad Young wasn't the name I was expecting to read, but the news certainly didn't ruin my vacation. Over the next seven years in Philly, he'd reach the playoffs four times and keep his chin up as the team was torn down to the studs around him. Nothing but the best in Minny, Thad. The return for their best (remaining) player? Questionable.
In return for Thad, the Sixers shaved $1.58M off their salary (dropping the amount they have committed to players to $24M and change), grabbed a top-10 protected 1st rounder in the 2015 draft (originally Miami's pick, from Cleveland in this deal), and added two new players to their roster.
Alexey Shved is a shooting guard who flat out cannot shoot. A shooting guard who hasn't touched 30% from three in either of his first two years in the league. A shooting guard with a TS% worse than Evan Turner's. A guy who can't defend to save his life and really only holds interest for a group of fans because he's Russian. The best thing about Shved is he'll only be on the team this year. He's a restricted free agent next summer and it's highly unlikely he'll be back. Certainly not for the $4M qualifying offer. Shved is filler, taken on simply to help Minnesota and Cleveland swap meaningful pieces.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute LRMAM is the epitome of a journeyman, but we really don't need to talk about what he does on the floor. The silver lining of this abortion of a deal is Mbah a Moute's history with the Sixers only hope. Luc has been a mentor to Embiid for years, and hopefully he'll continue in that role as Embiid works to recover from his foot injury.
On the floor, Sam Hinkie has without a doubt assembled the worst offensive team to ever set foot on the floor in the NBA. There is no hope. None at all. The 99.4 team OFR from last season (30th in the league), seems like a wholly unattainable benchmark for this squad. Mbah a Moute has always been a good positional defender, and Noel could be breathtaking on that end of the floor. Add them and possibly one or two of the second-rounders to MCW and maybe you've got a squad that can defend a little, but it isn't going to matter. 15 wins for this team, as "constructed" is a stretch.
More importantly, in the wallet the Sixers have set themselves up for brilliance. Assuming they fill up their roster with minimum contracts (mostly to their second round picks), and sign Embiid they'll basically have $33M on the books on opening night, $23M and change below the minimum salary. If, at the end of the season, they haven't added salary, they'll have to pay that $23M out to the players on their roster as a penalty for failing to reach the minimum. Of course, and this is the brilliant part, if a team like the Knicks is out of it and looking for a way to avoid paying the luxury tax (again) at the trade deadline, the Sixers can pull another fast one on the league. If they trade for Amare Stoudemire's corpse in late February, the full amount of his salary would be counted in the team's cap calculation, even though they'd only have to pay him the remaining $7M or so on his contract. A Stoudemire trade at the deadline would save the Sixers roughly $16M. It would also save the Knicks the $7M of his contract they wouldn't have to pay Amare, plus about $18M in luxury tax dollars. It would also move the Knicks below the luxury tax line, and reset their counter. That's big for New York, because this would be their third consecutive season paying the luxury tax, and they'd be running up against repeater status and the penalties that accompany it.
Anyway, just something to keep an eye on. The Sixers are making money. They're profitable right now, as they invest absolutely nothing in the product they put on the floor. The next seemingly meaningless move they make will further line their pockets. If it seems as if there's no urgency...well, that's probably because there isn't.
It's only 9 weeks until they lace them up for real against the mighty Pacers. Excited yet?