We have a going rate, in the modern NBA, and that going rate is “two second round picks.” Teams have been just about completely unavailable to pry first round picks – Chicago’s nebulous and conditional take for Luol Deng included – during this year’s trade deadline season. The Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers proved as much on Thursday morning, when the Sixers sent serviceable big man Spencer Hawes to the nobody-knows-what’s-going-on-up-there Cavs. Philly will receive two second round picks, the disappointing Earl Clark, and the still-raw Henry Sims. Cleveland will receive a big man that can walk and chew gum at the same time.
The move isn’t a cap-clearer for Philadelphia, Hawes is set to become a free agent this summer and was almost certainly going to leave the rebuilding 76ers, but it doesn’t knock $1.5 million off the team’s books this season. That would seem to be a potential trade helper for a squad looking to add assets to start over following the middling Doug Collins years, but newish general manager Sam Hinkie’s team has been below the salary cap all season, and hasn’t been rumored to want to add hefty contracts and the stars that usually come with them. In fact, this move takes Philadelphia even farther away from the league’s minimum salary cap, although the penalty for not reaching that (the difference in money is divvied up between the remaining players) is laughable and hardly prohibitive.
No, for Philadelphia, this is all about a pair of 2014 second round picks to goof around with. Clark’s contract isn’t guaranteed for next year, and Sims is a free agent. They moved a center they didn’t need for a minimal return, as is custom in the modern era.
Luol Deng may still be on the market for Cleveland, but for now Hawes should help with the team’s desperate push to make it to the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James left in 2010. Hawes’ production and attitude may have taken a hit as Philly’s tortuous 2013-14 moved along, but he still averaged 13 points, 8.5 boards, and 3.3 assists in 31 minutes a contest, starting all 53 of his games. Those stats may be inflated a bit by Philadelphia’s league-fastest pace, but his shot chart is nothing to sniff at:
The move also provides further buffering for the Cavaliers should they decide to deal Deng, who has made no bones about exploring the free agent market this summer, or possibly even move Anderson Varejao. Varejao was a favorite of former Cleveland GM Chris Grant, who kept hold of him despite his trade value and prime career presence on a rebuilding team, but with new GM David Griffin running things, Anderson possibly turns into a terrific asset – a very good player whose contract is only guaranteed for $4 million next season.
For now, though, Hawes (and, hopefully, a re-invigorated attitude) will help space the floor (he’s hit nearly 40 percent of his three-pointers this season) and make defenders pay for sending extra attention Kyrie Irving’s way. And, as a 2014 free agent, he’s hardly a long-term risk. If Deng leaves and Varejao’s contract isn’t picked up, the Cavs could have ungodly amounts of cap space this summer.
The same goes for Philadelphia, especially if they manage to dump Evan Turner (a restricted free agent with a massive qualifying offer and cap hold this summer) and Thaddeus Young (due over $19 million next year and in 2015-16) to other teams before the end of Thursday’s trade deadline.
Both Turner and Young are pretty solid players. They could possibly even fetch a second round pick, or two.
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