With the NBA trade deadline moved up to February 8, teams have to pivot much earlier than before towards their current and/or future goals. We’ve already had a blockbuster occur this past Monday as Blake Griffin was traded to the Detroit Van Gundys. The Cavaliers are in a tailspin and just lost Kevin Love, so it’s possible that they’ll look outside for some solutions. With the Eastern conference somewhat more in flux than it has been in years (Thanks to LeBron), it’s understandable to see some player movement to try to climb the mountain and overtake the old guard.
According to the New York Times’ Marc Stein, the 76ers are also trying to make a move before the deadline.
The Sixers have expressed trade interest in Tyreke Evans, according to league sources, but Memphis continues to seek a first-round pick in an Evans deal and Philly is naturally reluctant to surrender it— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 31, 2018
Tyreke Evans is having a pretty solid year for the Memphis Grizzlies, who are at a branching point of their own, falling out of the Western Conference playoff picture. The 28 year old combo guard has rebounded from poor production in the previous year and has hit his highest scoring totals since his rookie year. On an expiring $3.29 million contract, he’s a bargain for any team that needs some scoring punch and play-making off the bench.
And that’s the short pitch I’d be giving if I were the Grizzlies. However, are a few things to unpack about this all.
It’s understandable why the 76ers are showing interest in a guy like Evans. The team is currently trying to move up the playoff ladder. However, one of the weakest parts of the team, as constructed, is the lack of play-making off the bench. When Joel Embiid and/or Ben Simmons are not on the floor, the team lacks sufficient offensive production to hang with teams. When defenses tighten up, in general, the team lacks enough secondary play-making to compensate for the shift in coverage gravity. The team has a (Markelle Fultz-sized) hole in terms of having another play-maker, isolation scorer and secondary ball-handler. Evans theoretically checks off those boxes.
Yet, this type of move reeks of trying to fix a mistake with another mistake. The 76ers have been toeing the line in terms of short and long-term goals. We can argue process vs results about the Fultz trade, draft day picks/trades, the Jah and Nerlens botch job, and the free agency signings, but the strengths and flaws of the current roster have been shaped by those moves. Trading for a non-spacing big, for example, is only going to exacerbate the weaknesses of the team (even if the main point of the trade were for other reasons). Signing an average at best combo guard to a three year deal is going to hurt cap flexibility when you really need it.
Furthermore, the Grizzlies are rumored to want a first round draft pick in return. Unless this team is one piece away from a championship contender, trading a first round pick, mid-season, for a rental player doesn’t make sense.
Even if the 76ers were to attach Jerryd Bayless’ contract, it wouldn’t make that much better. The prevailing thought is that the Sixers are trying to open up enough cap room for a max contract. Shooting for the moon in free agency is absolutely fine, especially when you have Embiid and Simmons as 2 of your cornerstones.
However, if part of the thinking is to burn an asset in hopes to chase a big fish in a few months, then we should feel a bit uneasy. Remember what Vlade Divac and the Sacramento Kings did in the summer of 2015? The point here is that if the 76ers truly are players in free agency, there is always a time when they can attach a draft pick to dump a bad contract in order to accommodate. Doing so now means that IF they swing and miss, they’d unnecessarily burned an asset.
On the flip side, depending on pick protections, maybe it’s palatable to get a more productive player while opening up some cap flexibility. With some international guys like Jonah Bolden figuring to be a part of the equation moving forward plus multiple draft picks in the next 2 years, a potential non-lottery first rounder isn’t that big of a deal to move on from. While personally not a big fan of burning draft capital for a seemingly short term fix, providing Embiid and Simmons help for a potential playoff run could be just as important for their growth.
On the whole, Bryan Colangelo and company seem to be putting their eggs into this summers’ basket. I’m not sure whether to be excited or scared about this. What do you think?
Should the 76ers trade for Tyreke Evans?
This poll is closed
Yes, no questions.
Yes, but not for a 1st.
Yes, but also dump Bayless.