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Thad Young on Sixers rebuild: ‘They were getting rid of everybody and getting worse’

Aug 31, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

Thaddeus Young AP

The Sixers traded their last remaining skilled veteran this summer, when they jumped into the Kevin Love trade between the Timberwolves and Cavaliers to send Thaddeus Young to Minnesota, while taking on lesser players and obtaining a future first round draft pick for their willing participation.

It’s a strategy that Philadelphia has been comfortable with under GM Sam Hinkie — get rid of everyone who won’t be a part of the team’s long-term future, in order to draft young talent with the hopes of landing a superstar or two that the team can use to build around as a franchise cornerstone for years to come.

The Timberwolves are rebuilding now, too, following the Love deal to the Cavaliers. But they’re going about it very differently, and Young was able to articulate that quite succinctly.

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (via HoopsHype):

Q: You were part of a pretty extensive rebuilding project in Philadelphia. They’re rebuilding in Minnesota, too, but does it feel different from what you were coming from?

A: It does. I think the situation in Philly is much different. It’s the same process, but this team is much more competitive and it’s a better roster. Philly, they were getting rid of everybody and getting worse. But I think [Philadelphia GM Sam Hinkie] is doing a great job and has made some big moves.

In other words, Minnesota isn’t out there trying to lose.

The Timberwolves have pieces like Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and now Young, along with the last two number one overall picks in the draft in Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. To fans, that’s a far more palatable way of trying to rebuild, in that there’s at least a reasonable chance of competing most nights, with an outside shot that things come together more quickly than expected.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, has chosen to go after only the youngest of talent, and take its time developing it. The losses are sure to pile up as that’s happening, but that will only give the Sixers better odds of landing a top draft pick the following season — which only continues to feed this cycle, further helping the team’s strategy for the future.

  1. rh316 - Aug 31, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    Everyone can see that the 76ers are purposely tanking. The NBA needs to step in and punish them. Not with a monetary fine though. Let’s see the NBA start taking some of those future first round picks away. That’s the only way the NBA can discourage tanking.

    • JMClarkent - Aug 31, 2014 at 3:26 PM

      I think that tanking exposes the true flaw – the system is broken. Player movement is cumbersome, mistakes can cripple a franchise for years, and the bad teams tend to become trapped in a cycle where the basement is the lottery and the ceiling is an 8th round draft pick.

      I was hoping that the last lockout would create a situation where there were drastic changes to the CBA in order to make the product better – until then I high five Hinkie for at least trying something a bit different.

      • JMClarkent - Aug 31, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        *8th playoff seed. Draft Picks on the brain.

      • adoombray - Aug 31, 2014 at 4:19 PM

        losing is not “something a bit different” its something that should get you fired. the 6ers fans deserve better than this. The system is built in every way to prevent this kind of thing and it happens anyway. as long as people keep blaming the “system” or calling it “smart” to be terrible at the one thing you’re supposed to do, win games, guys are gonna keep getting hired to be terrible.

      • sumkat - Aug 31, 2014 at 5:47 PM

        There won’t be any major changes. The league wants to keep the stars dispersed, and the players want to make as much money as possible. That is what the system is set up for.

        Preference or enjoyment of the fans, if thought of at all, is an afterthought

      • kclanton80 - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:03 AM

        Of course the timberwolves are rebuilding a bit differently, they had a star player to trade for assets. How many Andrew wiggins type players are out their are just waiting to be signed or traded for….? Thad young is an undersized power forward who is a solid player but never lived up to his potential. He doesn’t do anything exceedingly well, so what would be the point of keeping him around through a rebuilding process?

        The sixers are rebuilding the best way a team in their position can. Every team that is really good now had to get really bad first to get that way. You don’t get better being an 8 seed and praying some star free agent comes to sign with you. Believe me we have already tried that (Elton Brand, Andrew Bynum, etc) it doesn’t work.Your can’t win a championship without several stars, and the best way to acquire stars is through the draft. The leagues top teams drafted their core players.

        Yes their are flaws in the nba system but, don’t blame the Sixers for taking an intelligent approach to building a team. They are acquiring assets, giving themselves flexibility and thinking long term.

  2. adoombray - Aug 31, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    Sam Hinkie is the luckiest guy in the world. He gets to be absolutely terrible at his job with no hope in sight of possibly winning basketball games and everyone calls him a “genius” for his “strategy”.

    It is absolutely ludicrous that this is an acceptable strategy in a league where there is not a set draft order. in the NFL, there are no odds, but no team does this kind of stuff. Why? because their fanbases wouldn’t put up with that crap and neither should the NBA

    • sumkat - Aug 31, 2014 at 5:50 PM

      Because in the NFL, one player, no matter how good, does not change the fortunes of a franchise. It doesn’t matter how good your best 2 players are, if the other 20 starters are weak, you are going to lose.

      The best single player I’ve ever seen in the NFL was Barry Sanders. He never sniffed a title.

      Not even close to the case in the NBA. In the NBA, it’s the opposite. It doesn’t matter how good your 3-12 players are, if you don’t have “stars” at the top, you have no shot

      • adoombray - Aug 31, 2014 at 8:11 PM

        its never just one player in the NBA. That is a MYTH. LeBron James is the one guy in the league that can change the equation like that and he bailed when he realized his team was too capped out to get him help off the bench. Teams need quality role players, heat check guys, 3 point shooting, rim defense, they need to be able to go small OR go big, and they need quality teammates who inspire winning. Hinkie is installing a losing culture. Nobody wants to play for that team because of the ambiguous “bright future”. Tanking is the dumbest thing that happens in sports.

      • tfoz5150 - Aug 31, 2014 at 8:45 PM

        Patience, my man. It’s going to take a little time. 2 years from now I guarantee you the top free agents will be knocking on the Sixers door wanting to get in. I disagree with you about the 1 superstar theory in the NBA, too. Look at MJ, Magic, Lebron, Kobe, whoever you want, Duncan, etc. You need to have one of these guys to even sniff a title. Football, baseball, it’s a different game. It’s much more of a team effort. This is why Hinkie is hedging his bets and going for another star this year. They already got Embiid, but he wants to make certain that he lays the best foundation he can. Next year is when they will finally start to take off.

    • geejon - Aug 31, 2014 at 6:03 PM

      No that’s not why. The simple fact that one or two individuals can completely change a franchise in NBA is why such a plan could work. The Spurs started their dynasty by drafting David Robinson. Then they “lucked out” when he was hurt all year one year and they were so awful they landed in the lottery again and hit with Tim Duncan. And thus began the dynasty. OTOH one or two studs don’t do anything for an NFL team. A QB is nothing without a good offensive line and receiver who can get open, A pass rusher is nothing without other guys on the D-line who can play and make teams pay for double-teaming the stud pass rusher. You needed a DOZEN studs to even be a playoff team. If you can’t understand how fundamental the differences are between building an NBA and NFL team and why Hinkie’s strategy, while no sure thing, is more apt to be successful in the NBA than NFL then you should probably not be posting on boards like these.

      • geejon - Aug 31, 2014 at 6:05 PM

        Looks like sumkat was replying same time I was.

    • kclanton80 - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      No chance of winning in sight? We only have the two projected number one picks from the last two drafts and the rookie of the year on our squad. Not to mention great flexibility for future moves. in a few years we will be an exiting young team on the rise. This is how you build a team that will be good for 12 years like the spurs. Not trying to piece it all together on the fly like the knicks.

      Also,Tanking certainly does take place in the NFL. The colts did it when they wanted to draft andrew luck and many other teams have as well. It does happen a lot less though because its much harder to project how successful a player will be in the NFl as opposed to the nba. Also, in the nfl, one player usually can’t make the type of impact on a team the way a star can in the nba.

      On top of that there’s about 7 rounds in the nfl draft and only two in the nba. You don’t have to have a top 10 pick in the nfl to find a star. With most NBA drafts there are 1 or two stars at best and sometimes none. Don’t blame teams for trying to jockey for better position to get an impact player.

  3. rrhoe - Aug 31, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    “It’s a strategy that Philadelphia has been comfortable with under GM Sam Hinkie”

    NO,Philly is not comfortable with what is happening,trust me,I live in Philly.

    • adoombray - Aug 31, 2014 at 4:24 PM

      I worked with a crew from Philly a few weeks back. It was really sad because they were extremely intelligent basketball fans. taking 2 centers nobody else would touch because of their injuries in consecutive years was basically just an excuse to get paid for another year and have people call it “smart strategy”. no vision, no strategy, just extreme effort to suck. I felt bad for those guys.

    • sumkat - Aug 31, 2014 at 5:52 PM

      I’m from Philly, and never hear anyone complain about the sixers.

      They have not mattered to anyone since AI left. I have no problem going through a couple awful seasons to break the cycle of finishing from 7-10 in the East and getting terrible draft choices that lead them to finished 7-10 in the east again

      • rrhoe - Aug 31, 2014 at 7:39 PM

        I don’t know where you live at but everybody I know complains about the Sixers and many don’t care for what Hinkie has done either. I do get what he is trying to accomplish and “yes” many people didn’t care for eighth place finishes and early playoff exits either,but it’s hard to watch nonetheless what has become of the franchise. No matter what happens this season next season he needs to start showing something and hopefully in 2016 we can maybe be a key FA away from being really competitive.

      • tfoz5150 - Aug 31, 2014 at 8:54 PM

        I disagree whole-heartedly. This is probably the most excited I’ve been for a Philadelphia team in quite some time and I’ve been a die hard fan for over 20 years. The vision, the plan, the players being produced, I can’t help but envision this team in 2 years and the amount of havoc they’ll be causing for the rest of the league. Think about it, assuming their health, you’re going to have Embiid and Noel protecting the paint. The reigning rookie of the year running the point. Not to mention Saric and whoever else they get this draft filling in the rest. They’ll be a juggernaut. Do I like how they have to go about it? No, but there also not the first team to tank for a future superstar.

      • sixerstrong - Sep 2, 2014 at 10:21 AM

        I have a tough time believing the OP actually lives in Philly. Either that or the only Sixers fans he hears from are the blowhard idiots on the local sports talk radio.

        All (yes, ALL) of the Sixers fans I know are excited for the future of this team and the job that Sam Hinkie has done.

    • kclanton80 - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:17 AM

      I live in philly too and everyone seems to love the strategy. Please offer an alternative if you have a better idea on how to build the team.

    • asimonetti88 - Sep 3, 2014 at 10:59 AM

      Philadelphia fans seem much more supportive of what the Sixers are doing than what the Phillies are doing. At least Hinkie isn’t signing 35 year old players to multi-year $100 million contracts.

  4. mackcarrington - Aug 31, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    Who is this season’s college basketball “Golden Child” that they are supposed to be tanking for?

    • tfoz5150 - Aug 31, 2014 at 8:56 PM

      Get the best player you can. That is the plan. ( Okafor, Stanley Johnson.)

    • patfic5 - Aug 31, 2014 at 9:11 PM

      Won’t matter
      They’ll just draft the injured guy who plays over seas ….

  5. mungman69 - Aug 31, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    Yes, and where were the Sixers going before Heinke got there? Nowhere, even brain dead people could see that.
    The only reason the Twolves are rebuilding is that they could get something for Kevin Love. But Minnesota isn’t going anywhere. They will be stuck at around .500 for years and that’s it. When was the last time the Twolves won anything?
    And most people in Philly are behind Heinke because in the NBA the only way to move for most teams is through the draft. Heinke’s plan may not work but at least he’s trying to build a winner. Philly fans have waited through 13 years of garbage, they will wait a couple more.

    • adoombray - Aug 31, 2014 at 8:14 PM

      You act like theres no point in playing the game. Hinkie is not trying to build a winner, he’s building a loser and has conned people like you into believing that a losing culture is something that leads to future success. it just leads to more losing, no free agent signings and stunting the growth of young players because they never learn how to win.

      • tfoz5150 - Aug 31, 2014 at 8:58 PM

        Dude, who do you root for? You sound scorned.

      • kclanton80 - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:22 AM

        I think your just mad because you know this team is going to be good. Why wouldn’t heinke be trying to build a winner? Do you think he wants to get fired? He isn’t coning anyone and obviously the new ownership is totally on board with his plan. Stop your complaining. I bet your a but hurt knicks fan who knows you will never win with melo and that the sixers are coming.

  6. mendenhallfumblemachine - Aug 31, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    To whoever said take away first rounders you are actually use your head. They were an average team making moves to
    Improve the team for the future, so they should be stripped of picks because they didn’t want to be mediocre?

    It’s the leagues fault if anything for having the system in place like it is, not unfair that The Sixers are actually being smart about it.

  7. birdgang - Aug 31, 2014 at 5:31 PM

    As someone who lives in Philly as well and follows all of their major sports teams like it’s my job, I’m totally fine with what Sam Hinkie is doing. As someone stated before since the 2001 finals it’s been a rough road for any true Sixer fan. If you really think about it we got lucky with AI, he never had a real solid cast around him. So since the 80’s the Sixers have for the most part been at the bottom or fighting for one of the last playoff spots in a weaker Eastern conference. The AI years were the only excitement the Sixers have had in nearly 30 years. So as far as what Sam Himkie is doing, he’s trying something totally different then what he have done before. No guarantees it will make us into a competitor but I’ll take my chances doing that over signing past their prime veterans and being a bottom dweller playoff team. Ask any real Sixer fan and they will tell you that a complete tear down and rebuild is what we have been asking for for the last decade.

  8. tcclark - Aug 31, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    The only opinion here that really matters are those off Sixers fans. Non Sixers fans need to stop trying to “save” me. I love what Sam Hinkie is doing. this team is young. they have the rookie of the year. they have another potential rookie of the year. they have the consensus number one player from a stacked draft and they have the top European prospect right now. this team is going to be stacked with talent in a year or two. they’ll have another top five pick this year and no one will compete with Philadelphia in young talent. you can question how they’re doing business but as long as I’m ok with it and other Sixers fans are ok with it why should you care. I’m more excited about the Sixers than I’ve been since diversion was on the team… the first time.

    • adoombray - Aug 31, 2014 at 8:18 PM

      None of those young players will ever develop into quality basketball players by playing in a losing culture. You act like life is a video game where players automatically progress into better players. They don’t. they need to be taught to win not given entire seasons off. At best, the “young talent” will bounce as soon as they can to be stars elsewhere.

      • smoothaswilkes - Aug 31, 2014 at 8:52 PM

        Seemed to have worked out fine for OKC. You act like these kids haven’t won at every level of basketball, they most likely have since their all top 10 picks. They know how to compete and will only get better playing more minutes in a system that’s built for them to learn as they go.

        It’s up to the coaching and player development staff to mold those kids in to winners at the NBA level. In a few seasons, they’ll be able to pull in quality veterans that will help with the leadership side of things, like a Derek Fisher type. They might even be good enough to lure a free agent or trade for one.

        Starting to get it? You act like there is only one way to win in the NBA. There’s not. That’s what makes it interesting.

        Relax, dude. It’s not even the team you root for and you’re so fired up. What with the way the lottery works, tanking doesn’t even guarantee the first pick – Hello! Cleveland. I, for one, applaud what they’re doing and am interested to see how this complete and utter slap in the face tear down turns out. Besides, it’s more interesting than my Lakers, who, by the way, should have done something of the same, but Kobe.

      • bkbell3 - Sep 1, 2014 at 12:03 AM

        Smooth, the reason if worked for okc is they were lucky that they stunk in years that a once in a generation player like durant was there to draft and 2 once in a decade players like westbrook and harden were there to draft, And harden wanted out to expand his name and game and they got nothing to show for it and also didn’t want to spend the money as a small market team. No team has won including okc by just drafting in the tip 1-10 every year. At some point you have to pay those guys and need to trade some of them to get a star esp. in places that are less desirable to free agents. Where are the durants and lbj’s in the past few drafts or on the horizon? Look what happened to portland with roy and oden. I like mcw but i don’t see any one on philly who is going to break out and be a top 15 player in the league. Losing does drain on guys and given other cities are more desirable to guys than philly, guys are going to bolt.

      • tcclark - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:09 PM

        Kevin Durant won 20 games and 23 games in his first two years.

        Kevin Love has been in this league since 2008 and has yet to make the playoffs and yet I think you’d still argue that he’s a star player.

        Chris Paul didn’t make the playoffs his first two years in the league.

        Anthony Davis hasn’t made the playoffs yet, but no one’s worried about him being in a losing culture.

        People talk about the Sixers like they’ve been terrible for 5 years and they’re building this bad culture. Two years ago the Sixers took the Celtics to 7 games in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals then they made what looked like a good trade for an all-star center and that blew up in there face. Now they’re trying to do something that has never really been done before. No team in history has ever drafted this much young talent in such a short period of time. To have (probably) 5 lottery picks in 3 years and 6 first rounders overall is unheard of. You cannot tell me how this is going to work out because it hasn’t happened before. The closest team to do what the Sixers are doing right now are the Thunder and that kind of worked out.

  9. ProBasketballPundit - Aug 31, 2014 at 5:52 PM

    Only time will tell if Sam Hinkie is doing a good job, but there’s no denying that he’s found a huge loophole in the traditional link between team performance & employment. Any other GM & coach would have been fired after last season or at the very least after what is sure to be another terrible season this year.

    But Hinkie is immune because he’s destroyed expectations. I expect more GMs to go this route soon.

    • kclanton80 - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      You act as if many GM’s have not already gone this route. Trading away mediocre players and aquiring draft picks is how you rebuild in the nba. There’s not one player we traded so far that has helped another team do anything. Jrue holiday… nope Evan turner…… nope Thad young will be just the same. The sixers aren’t doing anything new, they are just showing even more patience and restraint than nba teams are usually able to. As a sixers fan I love it. Everyone else’s opnion matters not.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Sep 1, 2014 at 2:33 PM

        Nobody has done what Philly is doing right now. There has never been a roster excavation like this in NBA history. And I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, smart or dumb… only saying that this is the first time in history a GM has put a team that terrible on the floor and not been fired as a result.

        It’s actually pretty interesting, but if I was a philly fan I wouldn’t be so sure this will lead to a great result. It could only lead to half a decade of terrible seasons. Who knows?

  10. jvw1982 - Aug 31, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    Good luck Philly fans with that strategy….seems to me as soon as your young guys are ready to be super stars they will be at the end of their contract, good luck getting them to stay….seems the sixers are going about this wrong….

    If I’m the league I am disallowing any team to be in back to back lotteries……trading Young made no sense, he was a young veteran who could help this team and they let him go smh I feel for you sixer fans…

    • tfoz5150 - Aug 31, 2014 at 9:07 PM

      Young was out the door. Currently we’re $30M under the cap, so I’m sure Hinke knows what he wants to do to keep this team together. Most likely they’ll be able to stagger the contracts. For instance, Saric is overseas for another two years, so his rookie deal doesn’t begin until then.

    • geejon - Aug 31, 2014 at 10:58 PM

      Why are you commenting on the 76ers when you know absolutely nothing about them. You don’t even know enough to know Young had an opt-out clause which he was planning on exercising after this year so it was either trade him for a 1st rounder or let him walk for nothing. All you guys commenting on Philly while not knowing basic facts about the franchise.

    • kclanton80 - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:39 AM

      why wouldn’t we be able to get them to stay? If OKC can keep its players then philadelphia (4th largest media market in the country and a much better city) can do the same.

    • tcclark - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:17 PM

      There are these things in the NBA (and other leagues) called Restricted Free Agents. They can sign offer sheets with other teams, but the Sixers can just match it and trust me, This is not the same as OKC financially. Joshua Harris (the owner) is loaded and will pay for a winner, especially after enduring years of losing like this. Their players aren’t going anywhere is they don’t want them to.

  11. Bob Loblaw - Aug 31, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    What’s funny is that if LeBron had chosen to take his talentstoSouth Philly, Love would have been traded here or he would have signed as a FA after this year and they would have as much talent as Cleveland with MCW, Thad, Noel, Embiid, Love & LeBron. But yeah…LeBron chooses Cleveland and their GMis a genius. Lol.

    It’s the players running the league today. Not the GMs.

  12. jonesjourdan24 - Aug 31, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    Bring AI back!

  13. mungman69 - Sep 1, 2014 at 4:48 AM

    Time to wake up; T. Young WAS going to walk. HE SAID SO. T. Young said that Heinke was doing a GOOD JOB.
    I wish T. Young all success. He’s a class act and a very good ballplayer .

  14. mungman69 - Sep 1, 2014 at 4:56 AM

    When these Sixers become good their players won’t want to leave and free agents will want to sign there.
    Philly is still the fourth largest market in the U.S. The Sixers are well under the cap.
    It’s a long road but one worth taking.

    • tfoz5150 - Sep 1, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      Young wanted to win now, during his prime. He didn’t want to wait around for a rebuild.

  15. kclanton80 - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    Where are all the people complaining about the cavilers sucking for multiple years and getting 3 number one draft picks?

  16. kclanton80 - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    Also, we need to redefine what “tanking actually means. Tanking is players going out and intentionally trying to loose a game.

    A GM acquiring young talent that is not yet ready to win but shows great promise for the future is not Tanking. It’s a sound strategy for long term future success.

  17. mungman69 - Sep 1, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    Yes, the players the Sixers have are trying to win. Do you think that MCW won ROY by not trying to win. Some of the players on this Sixers team will stick on the 15 player roster next year.
    Yes, what is your plan for improving the Sixers ? The Sixers have gone through a dozen years treading water. They went from a low of 12th in the east to winning one playoff round. Wow. And that playoff round was against the Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah less Chicago Bulls. All the draft picks that the Sixers were getting were in the mid teens. You can’t build a winner with low draft picks plus free agents won’t come to a sorry franchise.

  18. John X - Sep 1, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    In two seasons when Philly gets Saric and signs another FA Hinkie will be a genius. They have a PG and two C-F’s, both projected 1’s. A good Euro-player SF stashed . And cap-room. And more picks. They hired Bret Brown to install the Popovich system. Why would they change halfway? When they are done they will be good for a long time. Not just this month.

  19. sixerstrong - Sep 2, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    For anyone who is thinking that Sam Hinkie is doing a poor job, first look at what he inherited. A perennial 8th seed who was spinning its wheels and just struck out on the Andrew Bynum trade.

    He sent out:

    Jrue Holiday (a good pg, but not great)
    Evan Turner (total bust)
    Thaddeus Young (Love the guy, but he’s too small for the 4, doesn’t have the handle or outside shot to be a 3)
    Spencer Hawes (meh)
    Lavoy Allen (who?)

    He received:

    Nerlens Noel (potential ROY)
    Dario Saric (great looking international prospect)
    Miami 1st round pick (T Young trade)
    Got back the 1st they send out in the AB trade from Orlando as part of the Elfrid Payton draft day trade
    5 second round draft picks

    I will take that any day of the week and twice on Sunday. The one question that none of these commenters can answer, is what would YOU have done differently that would put this team in a position to contend?

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