The 76ers are willing to endure (at least) two awful seasons to gain high draft picks. Sam Hinkie is trading (almost) everyone not bolted down for even more picks.
Which strategy is right?
Heat president Pat Riley, via Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report:
“For me, it’s not through the draft, because lottery picks are living a life of misery. That season is miserable. And if you do three or four years in a row to get lottery picks, then I’m in an insane asylum. And the fans will be, too. So who wants to do that?”
This has obviously worked well for Riley.
Miami bottomed out at 15-67 in 2007-08. But rather than remain in the basement long enough to accumulate young talent, Riley pushed the Heat toward a couple years of mediocrity. Then, he used those playoff berths to sell LeBron James and Chris Bosh on joining Dwyane Wade.
Of course, every market is different. It’s much easier to neglect the draft when you can also pitch warm weather and a lack of state income tax to free agents.
It’s also risky to operate this way. Just look at the Knicks and Lakers, who’ve bottomed out and haven’t had the picks to turn around.
Hassan Whiteside gives the Heat a little leeway, but they’re still an aging team. In addition to the two first rounders they owe Phoenix, the Heat also owe the 76ers a first rounder originally sent to Cleveland in a sign-and-trade for LeBron. If this roster goes south, reinforcements won’t come easily.