The move was typical Sam Hinkie – dealing a productive player for an asset that might be more valuable long-term, a Lakers’ first-rounder that’s top-three protected in 2016 and 2017 and then becomes unprotected in 2018.
But that doesn’t mean everyone in Philadelphia appreciated the deal.
According to multiple league sources, last season’s decision to trade point guard Michael Carter-Williams — Hinkie’s first draft pick with the franchise in 2013, and a second-year player coming off winning the league’s Rookie of the Year award — was Hinkie’s alone, and the move angered both head coach Brett Brown and team president Scott O’Neil, who were caught unaware. Although Brown previously had some dustups with Carter-Williams, he had no desire to take a competitive step backward and give up one of the team’s better players for a (potentially valuable) future first-round pick. O’Neil was miffed because he was planning to market the team around Carter-Williams and 2014 lottery pick Nerlens Noel.
The Cauldron reached out to O’Neil for comment. Michael Preston, the team’s director of public relations, responded to the inquiry via email, stating “that unsubstantiated rumor is a gross mischaracterization of the events leading into the Michael Carter-Williams trade. Our organization has been and will continue to be opportunistic when deal of that nature become available.”
Here’s a list of coaches who would dislike one of their best players being traded for a draft pick: All of them.
Brown understands Hinkie’s plan, but like all coaches, Brown wants to win. Carter-Williams could have helped the 76ers win a little more. A future draft pick obviously contributed nothing last season.
Carter-Williams believes Brown wouldn’t have traded him, and he’s probably right. But Brown wouldn’t have undertaken the massive rebuilding project Hinkie did. The trade improved Philadelphia’s long-term outlook. That Lakers pick is valuable.
O’Neil’s initial frustration is similarly understandable. But marketing plans shouldn’t drive basketball decisions. The 76ers will have a much easier time marketing themselves when the team actually gets good in a few years than they would selling Carter-Williams and Noel now.
Of course, Brown and O’Neil could be out of work by then. Brown’s record is historically bad, and Philadelphia’s attendance is down. Losing Carter-Williams made it more difficult for both of them to prove their value in the short term.
But Hinkie is in charge and thinking further down the line. Hinkie and O’Neil just have to accept that.
If you’re a Comcast subscriber in Philadelphia, you can stream tonight’s 76ers-Wizards game here.