By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—When the 76ers announced they had traded Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for the No. 6 pick, 6-foot-10-inch center Nerlens Noel, I thought it was the dumbest move they could have made.
Why, after all, why would you trade an All-Star for a player who’s never played a minute in the NBA? Also, especially in light of the Andrew Bynum debacle, why would you trade for a guy with a busted knee?
Noel, who looks like he needs to spend some time in the weight room, averaged 10 points and 9.5 rebounds per game during his first (and only) year at Kentucky. Until he injured his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last March, he was projected to be the Number One pick.
Now mind you, Noel’s condition isn’t as degenerative as Bynum’s, but the idea of bringing in a guy with a bum knee does not engender much confidence from the Sixers fans that hooped and hollered at the Bynum trade, only to find that he was a dud.
Add to this, Noel isn’t expected to be back on the court before December if his rehabilitation is successful. By then, the Sixers will probably be in a familiar position: on the outside looking in as other teams compete for playoff spots.
To be fair, because the Sixers were going to be a young team whether GM Sam Hinkie had decided to build around Holiday or not, fans were going to be asked for their patience. The performance of a rookie is one of the NBA’s great unknowns.
But there are some bright spots…such as they are…
The biggest bonus of this trade is that the Sixers are approximately $15 million under the salary cap for this season. It’s expected that Hinkie will try to move other players like Evan Turner to clear even more space.
Also, to replace Holiday, the Sixers drafted Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who at 6-6 will be bigger than the some of the people that will be competing against him on both sides of the ball.
his final year with Syracuse, Carter-Williams averaged 11.8 points per game, 7.3 assists and nearly five rebounds per game. He was one of the big reasons the Orange was able to make a Final Four run in 2013.
Unlike Holiday, who still managed to average 17 points and seven assists with a bunch of mediocre to bad players, Carter-Williams will probably have some guys around him who can put the ball in the bucket so that he doesn’t have to score as much.
Despite starting for just one season, Carter-Williams broke the single-season school record for steals and finished his career with 292 assists, second only to Syracuse legend Sherman Douglas’s single-season number of 326 back in 1988-1989.
Looking at the numbers, the upside for Carter-Williams is pretty good. Having played in what is formerly the Big East Conference, Carter-Williams has had his share of high profile, high-pressure games.
The question is how all that will translate when it comes to the pro game. Some fans are still smarting from Turner’s lackluster play despite being the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft.
Despite my initial criticism and the praise these moves have received from some people, we have no idea of how this is all going to turn out. If by some miracle, everything the Sixers are doing somehow translates into the team making some noise and winning a title, Hinkie will never have to buy a drink in this town again.
But if it’s the same old Sixers, a bad to mediocre team that is a sure first-round knockout if it makes the playoffs at all, folks will look back on the Holiday trade as the impetus needed to come to the Wells Fargo Center with torches and pitchforks.
Well, look at it this way…the Sixers have a couple of No. 1 draft picks next year and the experts are predicting a much deeper draftee class in 2014. Hope they have their shopping lists ready…