The airtight Sixers front office has prevented most trade rumors from spawning over the last two seasons. Speculation has ruled until the final moments, with moves like the Michael Carter-Williams trade materializing almost out of thin air.
It's unlikely we'll see that policy change in the moments leading into Thursday's deadline, so instead, let's explore some (wildly fake) trades dreamed up by LB's writers.
Why the Sixers do it: They're convinced with half a season of evidence that A) Mario Hezonja is (potentially) more valuable than Jahlil Okafor and B) He fits better with the pieces that are already on board. This would signal that regardless of Joel Embiid's health, they feel okay moving forward with Nerlens Noel as their center.
Why not: Think about how crazy the above notion would be. Trading Okafor for a player you could have drafted over him outright less than a year ago would be an open admission of error, particularly given Hezonja's limited role and actual production so far.
For the pro-Okafor crowd. Assuming Bazemore re-signs. Orlando and Atlanta also get a pick out of this from someone. pic.twitter.com/lEgD4Knf13— Jake Pavorsky (@JakePavorsky) February 16, 2016
Why the Sixers do it: By allowing Okafor to truly take control in the middle, the Sixers get to see what he can turn into while picking up a complimentary piece with considerable upside. Bazemore would be prevented from gouging the Sixers as an opponent, replacing a lot of what Robert Covington brings only at a higher price.
Why not: The logic is there; upgrading your wing talent and alleviating some fit issues makes sense from Philadelphia's perspective. But Hezonja remains something of a wild card thanks to
Scott Skiles a limited role in Orlando and giving up Noel after his historic defensive showing as a rookie is a tough sell.
Feel the Love?
*twirls mustache* pic.twitter.com/xMkIPqmHmi— Shamus (@shamus_clancy) February 16, 2016
Why the Sixers do it: Jerry Colangelo has seen the "This Starts Now" ad campaign and is senile enough to take it literally. Kevin Love is a considerably better fit with both Noel and Embiid than Okafor, and allowing him to be the go-to option might bring out his best once more.
Why not: Beyond the concerns for other teams (not sure why the Knicks would ever do this) it would throw this year and the timeline in flux. Where do the Sixers end up in the lottery with Love playing the rest of this season? Anchoring an Eastern Conference team might be in his wheelhouse, but even maxed-out Love got bogged down in the West playoff picture.
Why the Sixers do it: Same reasons listed above. Noel would cover for his defensive issues better than most other options leaguewide
Why not: This presumes Phoenix is just going to dump Morris (adding a young player and/or pick would be easy enough) but again, divisive trade for the Sixers. With injury concerns perpetually looming now, this would be a big risk on top of the other factors involved.
(as proposed by Max Rappaport)
Why the Sixers do it: Think of this as a cousin of the Hezonja trades listed above. The Sixers get a backcourt upgrade and a frontcourt player whose skillset fits alongside the bigs left in Philly much better. Okafor goes because the team does not think building the future around him is palatable.
Why not: Selling low-ish on Okafor for the sake of fit probably isn't the type of move they're chasing. We're not talking about swapping similarly-regarded players from a pure "talent" perspective, so you need to believe strongly in the upside (and health!) of Noel and/or Embiid to say yes.
Why the Sixers do it: Jerry Colangelo is set on reversing nearly everything Hinkie has done, so he resets starting from the first major move. Holiday slots in nicely when not expected to be the alpha dog, hopefully providing floor-spacing and above-average PG play for Okafor and Embiid down the road.
Why not: For all the reasons Holiday was moved to begin with, and then some. He's not ever going to be a top player at his position, and his health has taken a turn since heading to New Orleans. I am fascinated by the universe in which Noel and Anthony Davis play together, at the least.
*NBA Jam voice* They're Heat-ing Up
Why the Sixers do it: It seems clear Miami is interested in Okafor, but Hassan Whiteside isn't much of a fit in Philly. Instead, the Sixers get another terror of a defensive player in Justise Winslow, and the Lakers pick up a player they might go after in free agency anyway at the cost of their own impending RFA.
Why not: As good as Winslow already is, he would be decidedly unhelpful from a floor-spacing perspective, which is one of the biggest issues facing the Sixers presently. For all the potential Okafor issues long-term, it would leave the team without someone who could be relied on to create offense out of the ether on a regular basis.
(as suggested by Michael Levin, with a pick headed to Miami via LAL)
Why the Sixers do it: The rightful lead guard of the future arrives a little later than Sixers fans expected, but he gets here after all.
Why not: I'm not sure Isaiah Canaan is the point guard of the future in Miami, Mike. Additionally, the Sixers would have to be convinced Russell's struggles would be alleviated once out from under Byron Scott's terrorism. For as much flak as Okafor takes, he has outperformed Russell by miles in tough circumstances of his own.
Shipping Up to Boston
Why the Sixers do it: You really, really want a chance at both Brandon Ingram and Ben Simmons.
Why not: Given the public rhetoric from Papa Jerry, the primary return being a draft pick in any major deal is super unlikely. Dwight Howard would also be a weird return for Brooklyn's unprotected pick.
(as suggested by Michael Levin. Non-Brooklyn pick goes to Atlanta via BOS)
Why the Sixers do it: Point guard of the future (sorta), plus you get the player who powered Duke to a national title last year.
Why not: Mike, I'm, going to have to ask you to step away from the trade machine.