WHEN THE name was announced on draft night at the 76ers' practice facility, it was clear that relevancy wasn't in their immediate plans. The name wasn't Nerlens Noel, whom the Sixers acquired in a trade with New Orleans, but instead the player they gave up - Jrue Holiday.
Gone was the 23-year-old All-Star point guard. Gone was the potential that many in the NBA think could make him one of the premier players at his position. Gone was the one solid piece the Sixers could build their future with (not around, with). Gone was one of the most solid people the game can have. More telling, gone was the $11 million burden that was going to hinder them in each of the next four seasons.
In Noel, the Sixers got a 7-footer with freakish athletic ability, spread out over only 210 pounds. He is a project for the future in so many ways, the first being that he turned 19 only in April, and the second being that he tore his left ACL late last season while playing for Kentucky. The talk before the draft was that he might not return to the court until around the New Year.
The talk just after the draft with many of the NBA executives I spoke with was that he might not play this year at all, the thought being that Noel not only would have more than a year to have his right knee heal, but also could start building his body into one that can take the everyday pounding the NBA provides. The Sixers, who will introduce Noel to media and fans sometime next week, have been mum on their plans for Noel.
Other minor moves have happened, such as the signing of two borderline roster players from the Houston Rockets in swingman James Anderson and center Tim Ohlbrecht. They also acquired Royce White, who was taken with the 16th pick by the Rockets last season but didn't play a game because of an anxiety disorder that prevented him from flying.
General manager Sam Hinkie appears comfortable dealing with his former employers. Might that mean the next head coach could come from there, too? Chris Finch? Kelvin Sampson? Or could Hinkie go another way? Is there a big splash coming out of the college ranks? Are top NBA assistants, such as Brett Brown from San Antonio, atop Hinkie's secret list? Is local favorite Ed Pinckney a viable candidate? Will Michael Curry, who has dutifully overseen the on-court basketball happenings since the departure of Doug Collins and who coached the team in the Orlando Summer League, be given the job? Does it really matter to Hinkie who the coach is for the next year or 2, or is he looking for fill-ins until the plan is fully implemented?
And what of that plan? In the Holiday deal, the team also secured New Orleans' top pick for next year, if it isn't in the top five. With the improvements the Pelicans have made, it would be surprising if that pick is protected next season. With the Sixers' upcoming season seemingly disastrous, they could have two picks in the top 10.
Also, in unloading Holiday's salary, the team is in a very good position financially. Thaddeus Young is due $9.1 million in 2014-15 and Jason Richardson has a player option of $6.6 million. After that, there are decisions to be made. Should Evan Turner still be here after the upcoming season, the team will have to make a decision on an $8.7 million qualifying offer. If they decide not to, there really are no more financial obligations, should they so choose. Arnett Moultrie and White are both player options after this season, while Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown all come off the books.
There will be draft picks. There will be money. It all appears to be part of a plan to tear down and build up. But here's the thing - the organization can't afford to have some things go right, it needs everything to fall into place.
If they don't get Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins with the top pick next year, it's a major blow. If they don't land quality free agents after the next two seasons, it's a huge step backward. If they don't make some kind of trade that will land them a stud or two, then this whole process is for naught.
It became clear on draft night what the plan is. Now it must be flawlessly executed.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.com, the Sixers received permission to interview Atlanta assistant coaches Quin Snyder and Kenny Atkinson. Snyder was an assistant coach with the Sixers in 2010-11 under Doug Collins . . . Wojnarowski also reported that the Sixers spoke with Boston Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga on Tuesday. Larranaga was the Celtics' coach at the Orlando Summer League . . . It is becoming apparent that next on general manager Sam Hinkie's list is the coaching search . . . Word is that the Sixers will introduce Nerlens Noel at a press conference on Tuesday.
On Twitter: @BobCooney76