Game Preview | At Deadline, Staying Put Deemed Most Prudent Course

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

Scene Setter:

Up against the NBA trade deadline, Bryan Colangelo deemed that the best course of action was no action.

That’s not to imply the 76ers sat by idly in the weeks, days, and hours leading up to Thursday’s 3:00 pm est cut-off.

Colangelo, nearly two years into his tenure as President of Basketball Operations, said during a Friday news conference that he conducted detailed, sensible conversations with counterparts league-wide, and explored the marketplace appropriately.

Ultimately, the right deal wasn’t there.

“Nothing presented itself that we should move or act on,” Colangelo said, the morning after overseeing his second trade deadline with the Sixers.

In determining that standing pat was the Sixers’ most prudent path, Colangelo had several factors - both short and long term - weighing on his mind.

The first item he accounted for was the schedule, which, for the better part of the first four months of the 2017-2018 campaign, was consistently ranked as one of the toughest, if not the hardest, in the league. Now, with 31 games to go, Colangelo believes the Sixers’ remaining slate is relatively favorable, compared to the start of the season.

Another important consideration that influenced Colangelo’s deadline decision-making was his sense that the Sixers are in a pretty good place at the moment. As of Thursday, they ranked eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, separated from third place by only 4.0 full games. That’s not bad, especially when reflecting on where the Sixers have been record-wise at recent deadlines.

With a mark of 26-25, the Sixers have positioned themselves to carry a winning record into the All-Star break for the first time since 2008-2009.

“I’d say given we’re a game over .500 in February...we’re probably slightly ahead of where we anticipated being,” said Colangelo. “I’m pleased with where we are, but our goal ultimately is to make the playoffs.”

Even amidst the Sixers’ uptick in success this season (they’re three wins shy of last year’s total of 28), Colangelo acknowledged Friday that the franchise is still in a phase where “exhausting” growth and development opportunities for its up-and-coming pillars is a top priority. Therefore, he wants the members of the team’s young nucleus to be the ones leading a post-season push this winter and spring.

“One of the things we’ve said all along is we want to maintain our plan, and stay consistent and disciplined to that plan,” Colangelo said Friday while discussing the trade deadline.  “That is something I did put weight on in respect to the experience the players are going to get through this process of trying to make the playoffs, and working towards that goal.”

Despite Thursday’s choice to stay put, Colangelo indicated that in the days ahead, the Sixers will monitor the status of buyout candidates from across the league. If a good fit emerges, maybe a deal gets done.

But in the context of the trade deadline itself, Colangelo didn’t feel any pressure to force the issue, given the circumstances.

“Could we have made a deal? Was there a piece or two out there that maybe would reinforce a playoff run? Potentially, yeah, there was, but at what cost?,” Colangelo asked.

“At what cost to the development of these players, at what cost to the utilization of non-player assets that we’d like to put forth to make this team better going forward? Rather than make a short-term play, we’re taking a longer view.”

To Colangelo, the costs, whatever they might have been, were clearly too high.

Opponent Outlook:

As the Sixers continue their season-high tying five-game homestand, in come the New Orleans Pelicans. Prior to sustaining a substantial injury blow, New Orleans was riding high, having won four in a row, seven out of eight, and moving six games over .500. But ever since All-Star DeMarcus Cousins went down with a ruptured achilles, the Pelicans have gone 1-4, while trying to hang on to the eighth-place position in the Western Conference. In the aftermath of Cousins getting hurt, New Orleans picked up the dangerous Nikola Mirotic in a trade with the Chicago Bulls, and moved Anthony Davis back to center full-time.

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