I need for all this Vince Carter non-news to stop; please, Jah!

But…

No, I’m not going to do it, but it’s too soon for this conversation…

Carey Smith from Philadunkia and Eric Goldwein from Hoop76 humoured me on a trade proposal I been kicking around, and answered a few other questions about the sad state of affairs in Philly:

Other than Milwuakee, and possibly Orlando, everyone in the East has a puncher’s chance at making the playoffs. The Sixers are currently 4 games out of 8th, and with the 12th easiest remaining schedule, they could…sorry, I don’t want to scare you, but what’s the plan?

Carey Smith: The plan is simple keep losing and then dump Turner, most likely Hawes and possibly Thad so the wheels completely fall of the bus. I don’t care how easy the remaining schedule might be, when 1, 2 or all of those players get traded, this team will look like an 8th grade CYO squad and team moral will plummet. The L’s will come flooding in and blips on the radar like Wednesday night’s W over the NYK will cease to occur. Then we sit and watch as Hinkie rebuilds this franchise through the 2014 Draft (and beyond). I’d like to keep Thad, but other than that I am on board with the plan.

Eric Goldwein: Develop the keepers (Michael Carter-Williams, Tony Wroten), sell the veterans, and lose some games along the way. The Sixers are only a few games out of the Eastern Conference playoffs (who isn’t?), but their -8.4 point differential (the NBA’s second worst) indicates that regression is on the way. With or without Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, and Thaddeus Young, they’ll end up with one of the league’s worst records.

There’s a lot of trade speculation about Thad Young, as well as whether or not he requested a trade (he didn’t for the record); if the Raptors offered a deal of John Salmons’s expiring $7.5m contract (it works on Feb. 10), plus the Raptors top-3 protected 1st rounder this year, do the Sixers say no?

CS: Ohh we are aware that neither Thad (nor his agent) ever requested a trade and I was happy to hear those words from Thad as I am a big fan of his game and strong position in the community. However, if the Raps offer us that deal, my basketball mind says to you, “I’ll help Sam Hinkie pack Thad’s bags!”. But I will shed a tear while doing so.

EG: They’d consider. A mid-first round pick in this year’s draft is a solid return for a good, but not All-Star forward. But unlike Hawes and Turner — both expiring — Young has value that’ll extend beyond the deadline. He’s good, he’s dependable, and he has a few years left on a cap-friendly deal. If proposals like yours are on the table at the Feb. 20 deadline, they’ll be there in the offseason. So I’ll give it a ‘maybe.’

People love 7-footers who can shoot threes AND rebound; why hasn’t Hawes been traded? …all these guys who are good enough to win a game here or there, and hurt the lottery positioning (two years ago the Raptors beat the Nets on the last game of the season and ended up with Terrence Ross instead of Harrison Barnes).

CS: You omitted the fact that he can pass the rock as well…While I’ll admit Hawes is having a career year, I would imagine that GMs around the League see the same defects i have seen in his game over the years. He can’t play inside on offense. He’s a liability on the defensive end. He’s soft as hell. Lastly, he’s highly emotional and whines to the refs too much. So while I agree that Hinkie should trade Hawes, I want the best return for him Hinkie can find. I believe that type of deal will only come very close to the deadline. Also, I have a question…In reality how “good” are all of these 76er players we are talking about trading? If they are so good, how come the Sixers have only won 16 games this year?

EG: It’s a trade-off between maximizing trade returns and ping pong balls. The Sixers are betting a few ping-pong balls that they’ll get stronger offers as the Feb. 20 deadline approaches, and it might result in a couple more wins. It’s a safe bet, but is it worth sacrificing a potential spot or two in the lottery? Close call.

The Raptors know point guard controversies (Calderon vs TJ Ford; Calderon vs Jerryd Bayless; Calderon vs Lowry), so I ask this with interest and understanding: what is the plan with Wroten and MCW? They both need as many as they can get, and it might not come with both of them on the roster.

CS: I can assure you there’s no PG controversy in Philadunkia nation. MCW is the real deal. #1 has surpassed all expectations I had for a him, is a ROY candidate and is the current/future face of this franchise. Tony Wroten is, well, Tony Wroten — a streaky shooting 6th man who plays no defense, hoists up ill-advised shots and turns the ball over. But, hey…he’s a great follow on Twitter. If he could learn to play under control and pass the rock once in a while, he could be a valuable asset off the bench for this team.

EG: Don’t let the counting stats fool you. Wroten, despite his 18-5-5 average in 11 games as a starter, is a terribly inefficient player. If he can improve his jumper and cut down on his turnovers, he could develop into a solid combo guard, maybe even a great one. He’s only 20 years old so that’s certainly possible. But thus far, MCW has been the far better player of the two. Barring unforeseen circumstances, things will stay that way. MCW is the point guard, and there’s no controversy.

Sam Hinkie has really cleaned house this year (letting Bynum walk and trading away Holiday), can you talk about the job he’s done and how the fan base have responded to him?

CS: I haven’t agreed with every move, but overall I am very pleased with the job Sam Hinkie has done. Obviously we have a stash of draft picks coming up and a great deal of cap space, which is NBA nirvana. So I am very pleased with that situation. What I like the most about Hinkie is that he has a plan (tank & rebuild through the draft + cap space). That’s something that has been lacking within the 76ers franchise for some time now. In general, the fans seem to recognize that Hinkie will be a good-great GM for this franchise. However it’s interesting to note that the fan base seems divided on Hinkie’s tanking plan. There are a number of our readers as well as callers on sports radio that despise his plan and how brutal the Sixers are to watch this year. I feel their pain (Even though I agree with Hinkie’s plan.).

EG: The Sixers have been mediocre for as long as I’ve been watching, but in one transaction — Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel and a top-5 protected Pelicans pick — Sam Hinkie changed everything. With that trade, he signaled there was a calculated, long-term plan: one that’ll require taking one step back to take two steps forward. Thanks to the draft day deal, the team has prospects on prospects and is in excellent cap shape. We’ll need about a decade to determine whether the experiment actually works, but if nothing else it’s providing hope right now. While I can’t speak for the entire fan base, Sixers Twitter couldn’t be happier.

The last two times the Raptors and Sixers played, things didn’t go so well for your boys; do you expect that to change tonight?

CS: I do not expect that trend to change. The Sixers played one of their best games of the year — at both ends of the floor — on Wednesday night vs. the struggling Knicks and barely got out of MSG with a win. IMO Toronto is a much better team than the Knicks, so even the 76ers best will not work vs. the Raps. Additionally, the Sixers are awful and rarely string together two well played games in a row. Having put their best foot forward vs. NYK, I fully expect them to come out and crap the bed tonight on their home floor. Finally, DeRozan (30 ppg. on 50% shooting in 2 gms. vs PHL) is a nightmare match-up for the 7-6 and as long he is in the Raps lineup, the Sixers do not stand a chance.

EG: Nope. Do you remember in 2005 when Donyell Marshall hit 12 3-pointers and dropped 38 (relive the magic here) in a blowout Raptors win? I’m expecting that. But worse.

Injuries

Raptors
Tyler Hansbrough – Ankle; may play

Sixers
Arnett Moultrie – Ankle; out
Tony Wroten – Ankle; may play
Brandon Davies (no idea who this guy is) – Finger; out

Match-ups

Point Guard
I like what the Sixers have done with MCW and Wroten, but MCW…the kid is special and was a pleasure to watch earlier in the season when I caught the few Sixers that I did. Lowry will be looking to rebound from his worst game of the season (he was still able to rebound and move the ball around nicely), and Vasquez will need to build off an exceptional game (by his standards) also against the Wolves. While MCW has been on a tear the last 10 games, it’s hard to favour anyone of Lowry the way he’s been at it lately. If Vasquez can recreate his performance from last game, forget about it.
Edge: Raptors

Shooting Guard
I’ll be honest, don’t know any of their guys here: Anderson seems like he can score, but let me down when I picked him up for my fantasy team, and I’ve never heard of Elliot Williams, so yea…Ross…dunk contest…defending champ…hops…shooting…defense…good. He gets the edge just because.
Edge: Raptors

Small Forward
Turner is one of two Sixers I would love the Raptors to go after; he scores from all over the floor and rebounds (I’m a sucker for guards/small forwards who rebound the ball well). He put up a monster 34pts 11rebs against the Wolves on Wednesday, and has been on this side of very good for most of the year. DeMar has his work cut out for him, but what he gives up on defense, he will make up for on offense; the key will be keeping Turner off the glass.
Edge: Raptors

Power Forward
Not sure what’s going on with Amir, but he’s been fairly absent for most of the last month; the Raptors are, for the most part, winning in spite of his performance, but they need him back at his December form tonight against Thad Young, who is my new man-crush. I’ve always liked the kid, but now that he’s gettable, tell me you wouldn’t flip Salmons’s expiring and our 2014 1st rounder for him? I’d make that deal all day. Anyways, if Amir doesn’t have it again, this is going to pose huge match-up problems since Jonas can’t keep up with Thad, which means he wont be playing as much, which means half of us will get pissed that Casey has him pinned to the bench again.
Edge: Sixers

Center
You have to give Hawes credit for keeping his stock high after a ridiculous start to the year. The guy has been a pleasant surprise, and will be turned into a nice get (for a guy of his caliber) when Hinkie dumps him over the course of the next month. Jonas has also had a brutal run of gawdawful play that might have been broken with a solid showing against the Mavs in a tight game. What has me worried is Hawes perimeter touch, and how Jonas shouldn’t be defending at the elbow extended for long stretches of a game. With match-ups and substitutions, this might work itself out, but if Jonas doesn’t hit the floor running from the tip, could be another frustrating night at the office for him. If all else fails, we can depend on 2Pat and Hayes to hold it down from the bench.
Edge: Raptors

The Line

The Raptors are 6 points favourites, with an over/under of 205. Considering the the last few showings, I’m calling a 112-99 win for the Raptors; Lowry with a triple-double :)