According to the coach/interim general manage,, the Sixers were not planning on making a deal after picking Mikal Bridges. They would have been happy to keep him since he was, as Brown put it, 1A on their list of potential picks and “would have come in and slotted in and played, right away.”
The Sixers turned down one trade, Brown added, but Phoenix made an offer they simply couldn’t refuse — that unprotected first-rounder in ‘21, plus a player the Sixers regarded as 1B in Smith.
“It happened organically,” Brown said. “It wasn’t something we sought. They chased us. They chased us, and they chased us hard.”
It wasn’t a decision they arrived at lightly, because of Bridges’ ability and the PR benefit of adding a Big Five player. (Also because Brown admitted that Smith will be “fighting for some minutes,” at least initially.)
But in the end, Brown the GM overruled Brown the coach, in that he accumulated future assets rather than keeping a player who could have offered immediate help.
“It comes back to what you hear us say all the time: How do you get a star? You’re going to need assets,” he said.
Does that not make it sound as if something else could be in the works?
It would appear that way, yes.
“We’re trying to develop and hunt for stars now,” Brown said. “The timeline is now.”
Which makes you think about potentially signing LeBron James, or trading for Kawhi Leonard.
The caveat in the latter case is that Leonard reportedly intends to sign with the Lakers when he becomes a free agent after next season. That means he might very well be a one-year rental for a team like the Sixers. But it also means his trade value might not be as great as it would be otherwise.
Still, he won’t come cheaply. And in Brown’s mind, that future No. 1 “could be the thing that flips it, with us having more assets to enhance a realistic trade for a star. We are star-hunting, or we are star-developing. That’s how you win a championship.”