: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but in this case, the Philadelphia 76ers have three birds. With Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid already in tow, the Sixers have three young pieces that they hope can be building blocks. They do not have any big money contracts on their books and currently have the rights to more than 10 future first- and second-round draft picks between now and 2020.
It is nearly impossible to argue with the fact that the Sixers’ future is brightest between them, the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, but if one did want to make such an argument, it could only be made for the Lakers.
As far as the Knicks are concerned, they remain a team in transition and one that is looking for some sort of hope. Phil Jackson raised eyebrows this past week when he, to his credit, admitted that his “experiment” in New York this season failed. He should be credited with being willing to publicly admit defeat; that type of candor is difficult to find in an NBA general manager.
For Jackson, a lot rides on what he is able to accomplish in July 2015. As the Knicks consider buying out the remainder of Amar’e Stoudemire’s contract, the team is in all-out tank mode with its sights set firmly on winning the draft lottery and the right to select Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. The team will also scour the free agent market this summer and hope to bring in two capable talents from the talented class that will include the likes of Marc Gasol, Jimmy Butler and LaMarcus Aldridge, among others.
But for the Knicks, as of right now, all the franchise has is hopes, especially considering that the Toronto Raptors own their 2016 first round pick.
The Sixers, on the other hand? They already have young, talented pieces in place and a war chest of draft picks.
As for the Lakers, they are in a very similar predicament as the Knicks. They currently owe both the Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic draft picks for the Steve Nash and Dwight Howard trades and are probably regretting those moves right about now.
There are some major difference between the Lakers and Knicks, though. While the 30-year-old Carmelo Anthony is in the first year of his five-year, $124 million contract, the Lakers are thinking about life without Kobe Bryant, whose current contract expires after next season.
With Nick Young, Jordan Hill and Julius Randle, the Lakers also have a few pieces that they hope can be a bridge to the post-Kobe era.
The main difference between the Lakers and the Knicks, though, is tradition. The Lakers have a front office and an ownership group that knows what it means to be NBA Champions. The Lakers are the New York Yankees of basketball and have won five championships since 2000 and two within the past five years.
With big markets and fun cities to offer, the Lakers and Knicks will each undoubtedly attempt to build their futures by persuading free agents to relocate. Only one of those teams, however, can boast championship rings and Larry O’Brien trophies.
In the end, it is difficult to argue with the fact that the Sixers have the brightest future of these three teams and it is also difficult to argue that the future of the Knicks is most bleak.
The three teams find themselves jostling for lottery position this season. One has a war chest of draft picks, one has a rich tradition and one has lofty dreams and expectations.
If asked which team has the brightest future, based on what we currently know, I would say the Sixers with the Lakers as a close second. If the Knicks managed to win the draft lottery this spring, I may reconsider, so let’s revisit this again in May.