There has been a surprising amount of reaction to the recent trade between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Sacramento Kings. To summarize the deal, the Sixers received Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, a future top-ten protected first round pick, and the right to swap two future first round picks. The Kings received two low-end negligible European prospects (Arturas Gudaitis of Lithuania and Luka Mitrovic of Serbia) who most likely will never see an NBA court outside of on television. They did, however, clear $13 million or so of cap space in the process. Other than saving money, we know Sacramento got nothing out of this trade. However, there seems to be this feeling going around that Philadelphia made off with a boatload of assets here. Let’s examine the Sixers’ recently acquired “assets”.
The man known in some circles as Sauce Castillo was the player Philadelphia really wanted out of this deal. The 8th overall pick of the 2014 draft, Stauskas should provide the 76ers with some outside shooting and scoring. Although he is the “crown jewel” of this deal, the jury is still out on Stauskas after a nondescript (to be kind) rookie season. In his first year in the league, Stauskas averaged 4.4 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 0.9 assists while playing about 15.5 minutes per game. He shot a poor 36.5% from the field and and just 32.2% from three-point range. If there was a silver lining in Stauskas’ rookie season, it’s that he did make 22 of 52 three-point attempts (42.3%) over his final 20 games. Hopefully for the Sixers, Stauskas’ shooting stroke continues to come around as he’s not a player who provides much else beyond scoring. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I’m not sure if the offensive potential will ever be worth the defensive liability in any role larger than a floor spacer coming off of the bench. At the very least, being excited about Stauskas and calling him a steal seems like a reach.
Thompson had his best NBA season back in 2009-10, when he averaged 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Over the last five years, Thompson has only averaged double-figure scoring once while collecting under 7 rebounds per game in each season. Last year, he averaged a career-low 6.1 points while shooting a career-worst 47.0% from the field. This decline in production from Thompson figures to continue in Philadelphia as a log-jammed frontcourt was an issue for the Sixers even before his arrival. Thompson is due $6.4 million and 2015-16 and $6.8 million in 2016-17 (although only about $2.8 million of that is guaranteed). That’s a considerable amount of money to pay someone who will likely be scrapping for minutes off the bench – especially if the 76ers get anything from Joel Embiid next year.
Just what Philadelphia fans have enjoyed seeing brought in over the last few years – more damaged goods (note the sarcasm). Landry missed 41 games during the 2011-12 season and 64 games during the 2013-14 season. He is coming off of wrist surgery this offseason and with a 3-4 month time table to return there is a good chance he won’t be ready for the start of next season. Landry, who will be 32 years old by the time next season gets underway, is coming off of his two worst scoring seasons since entering the NBA in 2007. He will most likely have a minimal role on the team once he gets healthy, but as it stands at the moment his $6.5 million salary for 2015-16 is the highest of any player on the current roster. Owed $13 million over the next two years, don’t expect much on-court return on investment from Landry.
Top-Ten Protected Draft Pick
There are two issues with the future top-ten protected draft pick the 76ers acquired in this trade. The first is that due to a couple of trades from the past, the Kings owe a protected top-ten draft pick to the Chicago Bulls. That pick has a window of 2015-2017, and since Sacramento did pick in the top ten in this year’s draft the picked owed to Chicago is still pending. If the Kings’ draft picks in 2016 and 2017 are top ten picks, the Bulls then end up with a 2nd round pick in 2017. The pending pick owed to the 76ers doesn’t kick in until two years after the debt to the Bulls is paid off. So Philadelphia could be looking at not getting anything until the 2019 draft. The second issue with this top-ten protected pick is that the Kings have gotten really good at ending up with a top-ten pick. Here is where the Kings have drafted every year since 2009:
2009 – 4th; 2010 – 5th; 2011 – 7th, 2012 – 5th; 2013 – 7th; 2014 – 8th; 2015 – 6th
As you can see, Sacramento’s recent draft lottery results (and regular season failures) suggest that Philadelphia may never even see this pick that so many people have lauded them for acquiring.
Right to Swap Two Future First Round Picks
In case you haven’t noticed, the Philadelphia 76ers are not good. At all. Over the last two years, they have a combined record of 37 wins and 127 losses. They traded Rookie of the Year winner Michael Carter-Williams in his second season and are possibly looking at entering next year with Isaiah Canaan as their top point guard. This team has “earned” the 3rd overall pick in each of the last two drafts. So given the direction this team has been headed in for a while, they’re unlikely to be looking to swap top picks with anyone – meaning there is a high possibility of this part of the trade being totally negated.
Bottom line: Based on this review of the assets the 76ers acquired from the Kings, it’s difficult to argue that Philadelphia came away with any type of enviable haul. They certainly did not hurt themselves in this trade. Picking up the salaries of Thompson and Landry ensures that they will be safe as far as the salary floor is concerned – which they’ve flirted with for the past couple of seasons. But if anyone thinks this trade is going to somehow reshape what has been one of the most pathetic franchises in sports lately, they are extremely likely to be proven wrong.