So I’m blowing this Hollywood exec, doing the “move to LA” thing to climb the showbiz ladder, when this big wig sits bolt upright from something he saw on Twitter. “Nerlens Noel’s been traded.” I slapped his cock out of my mouth, almost certainly chafing his shaft, and I rushed out of the room, all but blowing my chance for a cameo on Fuller House. Still, I didn’t care. I had to get to the bottom of the Sixers news.
At first blush, we looked flush.
Of course, I’m sad to see Nerlens go. He was the bearer of preposterous defensive stat lines, a true disrupting force not only as a rim protector but in the passing lanes. There is and will be a place for Nerlens in the NBA for the next 10 years, or as long as he wants to play basketball. He was an alley-oop monster and was starting to show an improved jumper from the top of the key this season. Further, he was beloved by the fan base, which won’t soon forget Noel.
But as sexy as that is, we have a far sexier option waiting to play in the middle. And as long as Noel could not co-exist with Embiid, there was no road for Noel to stay on the team.
Sixers’ fans romanticized this idea that Noel would be our backup forever and we would just pay him to be our indelible second line. Shockingly to some, however, Nerlens is not on the earth simply to please Sixers’ fans, and he might want to start or be the focal point of a team’s front line. Nerlens deserves to start somewhere. He was going to be a restricted free agent, and the Sixers would have had to overpay him to be a backup. I mean look at what fucking Bismack Biyombo got in free agency last year.
Easy with the steal talk, Danny. Biyombo got that contract averaging 4 points and 6 rebounds a game for his career. 70 million dollars. And THESE were his career numbers going into the contract.
Noel’s career stats, meanwhile, are fully better all the way across the board.
Noel was going to get paid a ton of money in the off season. If he gets $18 million a year, it would be an actual steal, so he’ll probably get more. If the Sixers would match this in restricted free agency, they would be handcuffing themselves to an albatross of a contract. Noel doesn’t seem to have the same pedigree on the team as Simmons or Embiid, nor does he fit on the roster as well as Dario Saric, plus whatever young studs we draft with our picks, the Laker’s pick and the Kings pick. Not to mention any free agent that our youngins might attract to form some type of Big Three or Four. You can’t give $20 mil to a backup.
So that brings us to the return on the trade. It comes down to the pick, which admittedly does not look good.
What I really don’t know is how the fuck they decided on at top-18 protection. The Mavericks currently have the 7th worst record in the league. So who the fuck talked whom into calling it a top-18 protection? Is Nerlens Noel going to catapult the Mavericks past 11 teams in the league’s pecking order? In my (admittedly not-expert) opinion, it’s not going to happen. So the trade boils down to being 2 second rounders and Justin Anderson for Nerlens Noel.
A lot of people are saying the deal is essentially a future All-Defense player for two second rounders, but a) he wasn’t going to be All-Defense playing behind Embiid and b) that severely undercuts the addition of Justin Anderson. At Virginia, Anderson was the main option. And anyone who was excited about Noel’s defense should be excited about Anderson’s. He’s high energy and can actually switch on the pick and roll, which will be a delight to anyone who watched James Harden torch the Sixers down the stretch, as he would simply set one pick and lose our best and only perimeter defender Robert Covington. Check out this crunch time chase down block.
I just don’t hate this move as much as everyone else seems to, because I see this move as a long term one. Our stockpile of a dozen second rounders over the next few years should set us up for playoff runs as our own. For example, take the trade that the Sixers made with the Hawks. We got two second rounders for Ersan Ilyasova earlier this week.
Ersan proved to be a very valuable player for this Sixers team; a three point shooting power forward who could grab a couple rebounds, space the floor and who took charges like Chase Utley takes HBPs.
He might not make sense for the Sixers right now because we’re not ready to compete this season, but for a championship run, he would be very helpful. Thus, when the Sixers are ready to compete, we’ll have a stockpile of picks to fill out our roster with ancillary players. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, could really use some veteran help, but their cupboard is bare right now. Hopefully, all the second rounders we’re stockpiling now will provide a valuable currency in the long term.
So will I miss Noel? Yeah. But he didn’t fit long term, and you weren’t getting a lottery pick back for him, because everyone knew he was up against an extension and was blocked by Embiid. Okafor isn’t going to be here forever, but now at least he has some time to raise his stock while he’s under the teams control for the next couple of years, because right now it’s pretty apparent that we’re not getting any good return on him if that’s what we got for the much-more-heralded Noel.
Here’s to the times we had, but also, I’ll not stop trusting the process because of a little bump in the road. I was watching every game when they won 10 games last year and I’ll be damned if a questionable trade is gonna stop me.