Michael Carter-Williams is the reigning Rookie of the Year, and won the award fairly easily.
Part of that was due to a relatively weak draft class, and it certainly didn’t hurt that he was allowed plenty of time to develop on a team where winning wasn’t exactly the priority. But his averages of 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game were impressive nonetheless, and should have been considered a nice start to a potentially long career with the Philadelphia franchise.
The team, however, may not have viewed things the same way.
Always looking to improve its wealth of assets and flexibility for the future, the Sixers reportedly were shopping Carter-Williams pretty hard in advance of this summer’s draft.
From Zach Lowe of Grantland:
They tried hard during the draft, but they couldn’t draw the trove they envisioned or guarantee that the player they wanted with an acquired pick would be there, per several league sources. Expect Philly to repeat the exercise. It’s not a shot at Carter-Williams, or even a signal that the Sixers are dying to trade him. He may well end up a long-term cog in Philly.
The team knows point guard is the most replaceable position in the league today, and it will seek out any deal that adds to its stockpile of high-value draft picks.
It depends heavily on what may have come back in return, of course, but this move may very well have been viewed as unconscionable by the team’s fan base.
Most sticking with the Sixers through these dark times are pleased that the team finally has a long-term plan in place, even though it involves brashly exploiting the league’s rules, which are on the verge of being changed because of this strategy. Stockpiling first round draft picks and taking time to develop players that can be future cornerstones of the franchise is one thing, but when you have a talent like Carter-Williams who showed so much promise in his rookie season, hitting the reset button after you’ve already succeeded in choosing wisely at a key position would be anything but well-received.
The shoulder surgery may have had something to do with the offers not coming in as strong as the Sixers were seeking. But it may turn out to be a blessing if Carter-Williams continues to improve upon what was largely a stellar rookie season.