IT'S AMAZING what can happen in a couple of hours on a Thursday afternoon.

In minutes, "The Plan" exposed itself and Brett Brown became just another Asset.

Brown, the Sixers' charismatic head coach, last week let everyone know he has little voice in the team's biggest decisions. That is comforting, since Brown is a good coach and an honest man.

It is comforting, too, since the 76ers and general manager Sam Hinkie really have no "Plan."

What they have is a Philosophy.

A "Plan" implies concrete goals, objectives and strategies executed with particular assets.

A Philosophy, however, is a loosely conceived concept that allows for flexibility . . . and delay upon delay upon delay.

Theirs is not an illogical Philosophy. It is not impossible that, within 10 years or so, it will bear fruit for many years to come.

But it is anything but a multifaceted "Plan" with mind-addling complexities suited only for analytics conventioneers.

The Philosophy is simple.

Hinkie and his front-office brain trust, of which Brown clearly is not a member, compile draft picks to acquire as many young, talented and cheap Assets as possible. They nurture them in their analytics-fueled playing style. Some will hit; most will miss. If a more valuable Asset presents itself with possibly longer-term benefits, the current, more replaceable Asset is cut loose.

The deadline trade last week of franchise point guard Michael Carter-Williams underscores this truth. You knew his days were numbered for months.

Carter-Williams might have been a Sixer until Feb. 19, but, practically, his future lie elsewhere as of June 26, 2014.

On that night, the Sixers drafted Joel Embiid.

Embiid is a 7-footer with freakish athleticism. He is a once-a-decade talent. Embiid also spent his formative years playing volleyball. His practical experience includes two full seasons of high school basketball and 4 months as a part-time player at Kansas. He will need half-a-decade to realize his potential.

It makes no sense for MCW, 1 year from NBA competence, to wait 5 years for the franchise player to develop. Most NBA careers don't even last half a decade. After losing, say, 240 games in his first four seasons, Carter-Williams surely would be willing to do anything to escape Lottery Pick Purgatory.

Having him waste good years in Philadelphia would have been foolish. A reigning rookie of the year with excellent size, fine offensive instincts and the ability to finish at the rim, MCW never will have greater trade value than the protected pick the Sixers got from the Lakers.

That is the reality.

The rest of the narrative surrounding the trade is tripe.

The rest of the narrative reads thus:

Overnight, the most promising young Sixer in years became a fragile malcontent who plays defense like Charles Barkley and has Blake Griffin's jump shot. Not only was Carter-Williams deficient, he was irredeemably deficient.


The same voices who for 16 months raved about Carter-Williams' rare and largely unfulfilled gifts now deride him for the same correctable deficiencies they once minimized.

MCW is a good player; surely, he cannot wait to display that tonight, when the Sixers visit him in Milwaukee. He has boundless potential. Anyone with his talent can improve; incredibly, his talent is being maliciously devalued. Carter-Williams is worth as much as any player the pick is likely to bring.

And, so, to the next issue:

Brett Brown's power.

Really, his absolute lack of power.

Brown is a first-time head coach in his second season of duty. His role is to mold whatever talent Hinkie deems worthy.

And that's it.

Hinkie was asked last week whether Brown was on board, and Hinkie painted pictures of him and Brown meeting deep into these cold winter nights, always the last to leave the offices, presumably in lockstep.

But Brown made it clear that it was Hinkie alone who scuttled the enormous investment of coaching and counseling Brown and his staff had made in MCW.

"You really think this will move us forward?"

That was Brown's response to Hinkie when Hinkie told him of the deal that was on the table. Brown then said, "I think he has to do his job" and referred to Hinkie's top-floor cartel as "him and his group."

That isn't dissension from an angry underling; nor is it affirmation from a man Hinkie called a "trusted partner."

That is resignation.

It is a sigh of acceptance from the Sisyphus of Philadelphia.

This Sisyphus just saw his stone roll a little farther back down the hill . . . and he saw the stone grow much larger. All his labor wasted, to be reinvested in a Player to be Named Later.

Despite Brown's dismay, the move made sense. The Sixers simply delayed their Point Guard Development Program to match the painfully slow metamorphosis of Nerlens Noel and Embiid.

Noel missed part of his only college season and all of the 2013-14 NBA season with a knee injury. Embiid, selected with the third pick of the draft, missed part of his only college season and will miss this NBA season with foot and back problems.

The Sixers traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday for Noel, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft, plus the 10th pick in the 2014 draft.

Considering the Philosophy, this was a splendid trade. Noel is an off-the-charts ballhound . . . who has shown almost no competence in a halfcourt offense, but that was expected.

Embiid has shown competence at nothing except gaining weight and cleverly tweeting.

Meanwhile, 6-10 Croatian forward Dario Saric, whom the Sixers got with the 12th overall pick in 2014, enjoyed a second consecutive season as the best young player in Europe. (Hinkie turned that 10th overall pick into Saric and future assets.) Saric certainly will be in the running for the award next season, too, since he is under contract with his Turkish team.

After that, though, the Sixers might still stink. Saric holds an option to play another season in Turkey, so the Sixers might not actually see him until after his 2017 season.

That could be two franchise point guards and one Sisyphusian head coach from now.

Philosophically speaking.