How good is Michael Carter-Williams?
That’s one of the key questions the 76ers face as they continue to rebuild.
What’s clear: Carter-Williams, who won the 2014 Rookie of the Year, is the 76ers’ most-accomplished player.
That’s a big reason they reportedly tried hard to trade him before the draft (maybe to land Dante Exum). There’s a real chance Carter-Williams’ stock never gets higher than it was last season.
This year, he’s averaging 15.3 points, 7.2 assists and 4.4 turnovers per game. He’s shooting 38.1 percent from the field and 23.7 percent on 3-pointers. He’s still productive and young, but that’s not the type of progress Philadelphia hoped to see.
I’ve heard a lot of rumblings from GMs that Carter-Williams is available. There are some in ownership and in the front office, though not all, that don’t see him as a long-term piece of the puzzle. There was a lot of chatter that direction before the draft and in the past few weeks I know several teams have had exploratory discussions with the Sixers. I think the challenge right now is that the Sixers will want a lot in return and MCW’s play, to date this season, hasn’t warranted multiple first round picks for him. That makes him tough to deal.
The 76ers are in asset-acquisition mode, so Carter-Williams’ stylistic fit in Philadelphia is probably not a key factor in discussions. The bigger concern is how much he could fetch.
The Rockets, Heat, Lakers, Pacers and Knicks would make some sense as trade partners, but why would any of them value Carter-Williams more than the 76ers do? That’s the question that will drive these trade talks, and if Sam Hinkie wants multiple first rounders, it’s hard to find a suitable answer to that question.
Most likely, the 76ers will hold onto Carter-Williams, keep tanking and hope he blossoms into a better player who can help more once they’re ready to win. But if another team makes a strong trade offer before that, I doubt Hinkie is committed to keeping Carter-Williams.