Last Thursday night, as the 2013 NBA Draft was about to kick off, I was on my way to a bar in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, which I like to call the suburbs, for a date. As such, I was not actually watching the NBA Draft and didn’t think much of it with the Philadelphia 76ers holding the 11th overall pick.
In an underwhelming draft class, I really wasn’t all that invested in who selected whom, if I’m being quite honest. But shortly after I ordered my first drink while waiting for my date to arrive, my phone began to go bonkers, with texts and Twitter alerts all over the damn place. I had no idea what anyone was talking about, asking me if they could be Pelicans fans now, wondering if this was good or bad, etc.
As I sat there waiting, I began to get the news secondhand and in bit pieces. At first, all I knew is the Sixers traded their best player, a 23-year-old point guard fresh off his first All-Star campaign, for Nerlens Noel, the Kentucky big man most people thought would go No. 1 overall before his knee injury cut his freshman year short. And I was livid. Jrue for Noel, straight-up? The fuck?
Then a friend of mine erroneously reported to me that not only did the Sixers give up Jrue for Noel, but they actually traded away a first-round pick in the process. That had me firing off tweets about Sam Hinkie and his great start, all in sarcastic and, frankly, pissed-off tones.
Finally, however, the dust settled and what initially had me raving mad turned me into a full-on supporter. No, contrary to my piecemeal information, the Sixers did not trade Jrue straight-up for Noel, nor did they trade Jrue and a pick for Noel. No, the Sixers traded Jrue Holiday for the rights to Nerlens Noel, the sixth overall pick, as well as a 2014 first-round pick that is top-five protected. They also kept their original first-rounder, taking Michael Carter-Williams from Syracuse.
After I slept on it, finally getting the full details of the deal, it can only be considered a smart, excellent move by Sam Hinkie and the 76ers. Overnight, they shed Holiday’s contract, got super-young with high upside players in Noel and Carter-Williams, and have two first-round picks next year in a loaded draft class. And since the Sixers were already a lottery team and now lost their best player, they are sure to be terrible in 2013-14, increasing their ping pong balls and a chance at Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, et al — though contrary to some reports, they don’t get two shots at those players since New Orleans’ pick is top-five protected. Still, a coup of sorts that came completely out of nowhere, so far as I could tell.