The draft is over, free agency looms and the picture has become much clearer for the Sixers following the NBA draft on Thursday night. With the off-season just getting started, team president Rod Thorn believes his team is in a much better place than it was when the season ended.
It took some work during the draft for the Sixers, too. After selecting small forward Maurice Harkless with the No. 15 overall selection in the draft (see story)
, the Sixers traded for the big man they needed in Arnett Moultrie (see bio)
, a power forward from Mississippi State with the No. 27 pick.
“We think we got an outstanding big player,” Thorn said.
The Sixers viewed their biggest need in the frontcourt but after selecting Harkless the thought was there had to be another move coming. Less than an hour after making the No. 15 pick, rumblings surfaced that the Sixers were set to acquire the No. 27 spot from the Miami Heat to address the frontcourt need.
To get Moultrie from Miami the Sixers gave up the No. 45 pick, which turned out to be center Justin Hamilton, a seven-foot center from LSU, as well as future first-round pick that is lottery protected. That means if the Sixers are eligible for one of the first 14 picks in next year’s draft, they will keep the selection.
In the end it worked out perfectly for the Sixers, who got an NBA-ready big man in Moultrie as well as a project swing man in Harkless. According to Thorn, the Sixers projected both players as top-10 picks. That was especially true of Moultrie.
“We were surprised that [Moultrie dropped],” Thorn said. “We had him in the top 10 — we thought that much of his talent.”
At the very least, Moultrie, a 6-foot-11 power forward, should be a strong rebounder who adds to the depth down low. Last season at Mississippi State, Moultrie, 21, averaged 16.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, totals that were better than SEC rival, Anthony Davis, the No. 1 pick from Kentucky. Better yet, Moultrie should give Sixers coach Doug Collins the option to use veteran Elton Brand more efficiently, perhaps even minimizing his minutes to make him more effective.
Wait a second … Elton Brand?
Indeed, the veteran power forward, a candidate for the amnesty clause, very well could return for the final year of his contract. Then again, the Sixers have until July 17 to use their amnesty clause and that possibility hasn’t come into focus just yet.
Could the addition of Harkless and Moultrie spell the end of Brand in Philly? Could the newest members of the team mean the Sixers will not re-sign Lou Williams or Spencer Hawes?
“Probably not,” Thorn said. “It could, but probably not right now. We’ll come to that when we come to that.”
The scouting reports indicate that Moultrie is NBA ready. However, one of the knocks on Moultrie is his maturity and discipline. However, after exhaustive background checks and interviews, Thorn is certain Moultrie will not be a problem.
“We have a great locker room and we anticipate no problems at all,” Thorn said. “Our feeling was that he was one of the top 10 players in the draft and he was the type of player we could use on this team. We feel like he will be fine for us.”
Next for the Sixers comes the free agency period. The team can negotiate with players beginning on July 1 and can sign them on July 11. Owner Josh Harris promises that the team will do what it takes to improve, and after adding two first-round picks the Sixers seem to be off to a good start.