Bryan Colangelo's Sixers organization has made it clear, either in interviews on record or anonymously as sources to various media members, that the Sixers will look to acquire veterans to complement the team's young players. More importantly, they were looking for veterans who could stick with the team (the Nerlens Noel-Jeff Teague rumors notwithstanding, as they represent gross negligence).
With that in mind, and in the vein of a similar post last year on potential salary-dump trades, I looked around the NBA to see which players under contract at least for next year could be acquired by the Sixers, including why their team would want to dump them, why they're a good fit in Philadelphia, and a guess at what it would take to seal a deal.
Note that the pool of players considered is limited to those who have either already hit free agency or are eligible for extensions this summer, and are thus going into their fourth year in the league or more.
1. Patrick Beverley, PG, Houston Rockets
Beverley is a pragmatic ideal target for the Sixers right now - a young veteran, not exiting his prime, with three seasons remaining on his contract declining in value over time with the wildly escalating cap. His contract value, for a better team, would mean more, but his defense and shooting at the point are what makes him such a good fit in Philadelphia. It's also what makes him fit like a glove in Houston, with the ball-dominant James Harden as his backcourt partner.
Considering Beverley was one of the few Rockets to give consistent effort in a lost 2015-16 season, it's hard to see Houston moving him for something short of a big return. They would need a potential star.
Given that, the Sixers do have the goods to make a deal. Two possibilities come to mind - the first is a deal centering around Beverley and Nerlens Noel. Noel would represent a current and long-term defensive upgrade over Houston incumbent Clint Capela, and trading Beverley for Noel turns a solid role player into another solid role player who could potentially be a star defender for Houston. Houston would then need to loosen the purse strings and over Noel a long-term contract.
Noel worked with new Rockets coach, former Sixers assistant Mike D'Antoni, and had a strong offensive second half of the season. Houston has the deep pockets to absorb a long-term deal, and would probably make the trade contingent on negotiating an extension.
Noel might not be enough given Beverley's age and contract, but you hope the Sixers wouldn’t give up anything substantial in addition to Noel for a role player.
2. Bojan Bogdanovic, G/F, Brooklyn Nets
Bogdanovic is a more under-the-radar option than Beverley, though Sixers fans may recall his 44-point explosion against them in a meaningless April game. Bogdanovic is unspectacular in most areas of the game, but he is an accomplished international player and expected Olympic teammate of Dario Saric this summer. He has just one year left on his first NBA contract, about $3.6 million for next season.
The Nets are in the not-envious position of having either no picks or no control over where their pick lands over the next four drafts and could use some draft capital or young players. A combination of someone like Richaun Holmes and a future second rounder are a decent haul for a player not destined to last in Brooklyn for the long-term, and would be a low-cost investment for a young veteran.
With a front-court logjam expected with the drafting of Ben Simmons, the importing of Dario Saric, and even the glimmer of a healthy Joel Embiid, Holmes is very expendable. Despite flashes of brilliance off the bench last season, he could be on the chopping block this Fall.
3. George Hill, G, Indiana Pacers
Yes, it is at least somewhat contradictory to raise a stink over trading for Jeff Teague on a one-year deal and then propose that George Hill, who is two years older on a similar contract (1-year, $8 million), should be a potential trade target.
The difference is in the price of a deal. Hill just turned 30, and a long-term contract for the amount of money that Teague would command is unlikely. Hill also complements Ben Simmons and a post-dominant center (like, say, Jahlil Okafor) better than most point guards, since he’s proven to be effective when not asked to create offense. Teague would not be a bad fit either, but the cost of acquisition and the eventual contract are scary.
Indiana needs a second big, or a big wing, to complement young center Myles Turner and Paul George. Jerami Grant might be a good fit in the exchange, as he's also young and athletic and would benefit in playing in the up-tempo system Larry Bird envisions the Pacers excelling in. Robert Covington would give them two big shooters at the forward positions in the same system. A swap for a late first round pick and Holmes or another flyer might work as well.
Hill, as a defender and shooter who does not exclusively rely on speed and an inconsistent jumper, should age well. I’d feel comfortable giving him a multi-year deal if no other options were available.
4. Terrence Ross, G/F, Toronto Raptors
Ross is a candidate to be moved at any time this offseason. Moving him after signing him to an extension is quintessential Masai Ujiri. Ujiri has a history of signing his own free agents and trading them as soon as humanly possible rather than allowing a player to leave in free agency for nothing.
Ross's availability might be contingent on the plans to re-sign DeMar DeRozan - with DeRozan in tow, Ross is a clear fourth in the pecking order among Raptors wing players, and at $11M per season is a bit rich for that role even under the 2016 cap.
The ideal fit for the Raptors among current Sixers players is Robert Covington. Covington is the second stretch four/emergency three that the Raptors need and fits their rotation better than Ross at a cheaper price. The Sixers should ask for more than Ross in a deal, if Covington is the key guy moving on. Ross hasn’t been consistent enough in his short NBA career to really invest in, so you don’t want to gamble on him by sending away a known quantity.
5. Avery Bradley, G, Boston Celtics
The best player on this list, by far, is Bradley, the two-way shooting guard for the Celtics. Boston would probably move him in a deal for a superstar, which makes me doubt whether they'd pull the trigger on a deal for Jahlil Okafor. Okafor is not a perfect fit for Boston's scheme or timeline, and Okafor is precisely the type of defender you hope to hide by having an Avery Bradley-type available to stop fools from driving into the paint.
It would be an exercise to get Bradley. Nerlens Noel would be a good return from Boston's standpoint. He would replace Amir Johnson and would be by several furlongs the best defensive center the Celtics have had since Kevin Garnett got shipped out of town. Noel is a massive upgrade over Jared Sullinger defensively, and would lessen the need for two ball-hawking guards that Boston overly relies on now.
Yet, given Bradley’s contract (2 years, $17.1 million left) you have to wonder if Boston would swing a deal just for Noel. They may ask for more. Bradley’s injury history, including multiple shoulder procedures, gives me pause to send more than Noel their way.
6. Brandon Knight, PG, Phoenix Suns
A reminder: Brandon Knight got traded for the future Lakers pick (and more!) currently held by the Sixers. Let’s give another round of applause for Milwaukee and Phoenix panic-involving themselves in a pointless point guard swap and giving the Sixers by far the best thing from that trade.
Knight is a fine player, but two teams have already soured on him in favor of Reggie Jackson and Michael Carter-Williams, and I’m not sure the current Phoenix roster is a cozy fit either. With Eric Bledsoe perpetually injured, and Devin Booker the closest thing to a building block the Suns have, Knight should be available. A Kris Dunn/Devin Booker backcourt sounds pretty solid in theory, and Dunn should be available when the Suns make the fourth selection in the draft.
Knight has four years left on his contract at a reasonable rate given the cap jump - expected to be $94 million next year and at least $110 the year after. Phoenix should not be rushing to dump him for his contract.
The Suns could really use a stretch four in return, and only Covington on the current Sixers roster fits that bill. It’s sacrilege in these parts to suggest Dario Saric as a trade piece, and I wouldn't deal him in a package for Knight, but if the teams had discussions about Knight then Dario is probably Phoenix’s target. A deal is hard to construct due to Knight’s cap number and the clogged center position in Phoenix.
If they ask for the Lakers pick back, Colangelo should laugh, hang up, and then prank call them.
7. Ben McLemore, SG, Sacramento Kings
Ben McLemore’s NBA career hasn’t progressed as expected. He got benched for James Anderson multiple times last season! That’s bad!
McLemore has one guaranteed year at $4 million remaining on his rookie scale contract, and any team that has him would probably hesitate to offer a long-term extension given his production to-date. His second year was much better than last - two seasons ago, he averaged 12 points per game and shot 36% from three - and you would hope he could be a little better than that.
Sacramento would probably be motivated to move him for little, maybe a Holmes-type player and a future second round pick. Anything more is probably too much and would be paying for draft position rather than future value.
8. Otto Porter, F, Washington Wizards
A team with John Wall running the point should be intensely focused on operating as quickly and athletically as possible. Porter improved across the board last year, shooting 37% on threes in a starting role, but he's not a perfect fit with Wall's go-go style.
Porter could probably be asked to do more than he has in his career in Washington, as a third perimeter option behind Wall and Bradley Beal. He’s evolved into a solid shooter but was considered an all-around player when he entered the NBA and was drafted third overall. He doesn’t seem like a disappointment given how invisible he was as a rookie, but he’s under=performed in comparison to what I thought he could be. A change of scenery, and more responsibility, could be a good thing.
The Sixers happen to have someone who might be a perfect fit with Wall, who attended the same college as Wall, and who has a wicked flattop.
Noel is certainly more valuable in a vacuum than Porter, but given roster constraints a challenge trade makes more sense than trying to build a package around either one of them. Both are eligible for extensions this summer given they are entering their fourth years in the league, and each team should look to lock their new piece up long-term if a trade were to go down.
Noel would have to split time for a season with Marcin Gortat, a surprisingly stout pick-and-roll partner for Wall, if another deal weren’t made. But the two-way potential of a Wall-Noel team is too tantalizing to not go for it for Washington.