“We are not, right now, at this present moment, amongst the royalty in the east, and we understand that. It’s a badge that we want.” - Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown after the team’s 25 point loss in Brooklyn.
What Brown is saying there is true. The Sixers are not playing like a team that should be considered as one of the top-4 teams in the Eastern Conference. They’ve already lost to three of the four top teams in the East (Boston, Milwaukee, Toronto) and play Indiana, tonight.
Right now, the Sixers have a 6-5 record, haven’t won a road game, allow 112.9 points per game (11th most in the league), and lead the league in total turnovers with 177 -- twelve more than the next team, the Atlanta Hawks (165).
Yeah, it’s not good. So, how is this fixed?
Is it a little early? Probably.
Will one or more of these trade targets not be an option? Yup.
Will I get lots of comments (positive or negative) about trading members of the Sixers? I’m already ready for it.
Let’s do this.
This list doesn’t include Cleveland Cavaliers guard/forward Kyle Korver. There’s no point trading for a guy in Korver who will likely be a buyout candidate towards the trade deadline or earlier. The rest of these players are in varying degrees of want.
Justin Holiday, G, Chicago Bulls
Remaining contract: one-year, $4.4 million
Let’s start small. Justin is the eldest Holiday brother in the NBA. I have a personal love for Jrue Holiday. His trade kicked off “The Process”, so I am forever in gratitude. Justin has been kicked around the NBA playing for five teams in six years. (He’s doing his second shift with the Bulls.)
Last year, he started 72 games for Chicago and scored 12 points a game shooting 36% from three. This year, that number is above 40% after 11 games. He’s a wing shooter, plain and simple.
What would a trade for Justin Holiday look like?
Here’s how I’ll explain this part for every player I’ll mention in this column. The trade I propose is the kickoff point if I’m on the phone with the opposing GM. I’m willing to budge a little bit depending on the comments section, but I’m not going to do anything that might get me fired from Liberty Ballers -- like trade Ben Simmons for Jimmy Butler or something. (LOL. Seriously, Thibs. You wanted Simmons for Jimmy Butler?!? #foh.)
Back to Justin Holiday. There has to be some creativity to this one because just trading Korkmaz, for example, isn’t enough to make the salaries match.
I know. I’m probably hearing a dial tone almost immediately after offering this up, but it’s literally the only way I could piece a Justin Holiday deal together that even KINDA made sense. The Bulls get Korkmaz and their 2019 pick back, so that’s … some return on their $4 million investment for Holiday.
Have the Bulls given up on Denzel Valentine, yet? Who knows? He’s still recovering from an ankle injury, so that’s not clear. There’s just too much going on to unpack, here, and I should move on before my brain breaks trying to figure this out.
J.R. Smith, G, Cleveland Cavaliers
Remaining contract: one-year, $14.7 million
Smith is only on this list for giggles. Remember when the Sixers had Nick Young? Trading for J.R. Smith is the Sixers trading for Young’s “jedi master” so to speak. Both are only good for one thing: shooting threes. Ok, they’re good for two things: shooting threes and doing things on the court that make you pull your hair out.
Now, technically, Smith has two years left on his deal, but only $4 million is guaranteed in 2019. The full $16 million for 2019 counts if he is not waived before June 30, 2019 -- which will be no doubt exercised by the team trading for J.R.
What would a trade for J.R. Smith look like?
The obvious would be a straight up trade of Wilson Chandler for Smith, but that does nothing but hurt the Sixers rotation of wing defenders because Smith hasn’t been a plus defender in DBPM since the 2011 season. Let’s be a bit more creative:
This is interesting. Turn Bayless into SOMEONE that the Sixers could use. It would hurt me to trade away Korkmaz in this deal, but his option isn’t being picked up. Korkmaz wants minutes, and I don’t blame him for wanting a shot elsewhere. The Cavaliers get something for J.R. — who wants out of Cleveland, anyway. Maybe the Cavaliers ask for a second round pick, but anything more than that is too much.
A lot of Sixers faithful would probably rather wait for the eventual Korver buyout that I mentioned above, but Smith could be someone worth looking in to … maybe … if the team’s that desperate.
Kemba Walker, G, Charlotte Hornets
Remaining contract: one year, $12 million
“Enough with the side dishes, Adio. Where’s the main course?”
Fine. Since you rushed me, let’s start with Kemba Walker.
It’s hard to say whether or not the Hornets will move Walker RIGHT NOW because Charlotte is directly below the Sixers in the EC standings. Of the teams that are not top-8 right now, who can take a spot if Charlotte drops off: Brooklyn? Maybe Washington if they get their “s” together?
Let’s fast forward this to the All-Star break and Charlotte has completely floundered.
What does a Kemba Walker trade look like?
Again, this is only my FIRST offer. For this to work, Markelle Fultz has to look like an NBA basketball player -- which he has for the most part. Is he “University of Washington Markelle Fultz”? No, but he’s not rookie for the 76ers Markelle Fultz, either.
Fultz, Korkmaz, and the Sacramento pick could be enough. That’s right. I said the Sacramento pick, not the 2021 Miami pick. I’ll offer Sacramento first. The Kings are 6-4 right now, and I really think they’re good. That makes this pick kind of a roll of the dice.
If you’re the Hornets accepting this trade, you’re predicting the inevitable falling off a cliff that the Kings seem to do. If you’re the Sixers, you’re betting that they stay relatively good so that pick stays in the lottery area.
In return, the Sixers get a bonafide third guy. Kemba Walker is one of my choices for “guy that plays for a team that no one is watching but who would be incredible in our system”. He gets to the rim (about 6 FTA per game), shoots threes (40% on ten attempts per game), and scores (28.0 ppg, .613 TS%).
Would Walker re-up past this year? Probably. The Knicks seem to have doe eyes for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. That’d be a shame for Walker (a Bronx native). Do the next best thing, Kemba. Play for the Sixers and win championships while sticking it to the Knicks.
(Admittedly, I just want Kemba here because it just gives me another reason to love anything and everything about The Bronx. My uncle lives there, and I’m all about Desus & Mero.)
Bradley Beal, G, Washington Wizards
Remaining contract: three-years, $81.1 million
The Washington Wizards are 2-7. I can’t tell if the team has quit on head coach Scott Brooks, but good lord, it doesn’t look right down there in D.C.
That being the case, Beal has become a name being thrown around on both Sixers Twitter and the Liberty Ballers Slack, lately. Before the 2016-2017 season, there’s no way I would have entertained trading for Beal because of his injury history. He’s been healthy the last two years. He played 77 games two years ago and the full 82 last year. Beal might (MIGHT) be over the nagging injury phase. If true, he’s worth looking at. So, how would we get him here?
What would a Bradley Beal trade look like?
If the Wizards traded Beal now, they’ve already conceded this season. (Technically, they probably already did when some genius said, “Sure. Let’s bring in Dwight Howard. Nothing could go wrong, there.”) This is more likely a trade deadline deal if Washington has completely imploded.
Fultz, Korkmaz, and the 2021 Miami pick isn’t a terrible haul for Beal — especially if Fultz is the player he was at the University of Washington which isn’t outside the realm of possibility. Some other playoff team will want Wilson Chandler whom you can flip for more picks. That might work for them. I’m not sure what else I would include for Beal. Covington? No. Šarić? Likely not.
For the Sixers, they are LOCKED into their core of Embiid, Simmons, Šarić, and Beal. That’s it. That’s how they’re rolling. Is it enough to beat Boston or Toronto this season? It probably increases their chances. Beal is a shooter that meshes perfectly with what the Sixers need (off-ball shooting). Beal off the catch-and-shoot is almost Redick-like:
- 2016-2017: 42% 3pt%; 30.5% catch-and-shoot frequency
- 2017-2018: 43% 3pt%; 22.3% catch-and-shoot frequency
- This season: 37% 3pt%; 33.1% catch-and-shoot frequency
Go ahead, NBA. Try and double team Embiid or Simmons in the lane with that lingering around the three point line. If either can see Beal open, it’s likely three points for the good guys.
Trading for Bradley Beal would be a real swing. Would rookie GM Elton Brand make the play for him?
Jimmy Butler, G/F, Minnesota Timberwolves
Remaining contract: one-year, $18.6 million
Butler has a $19.9 million player option for next year, but he’s opting out to get max money. I can’t not have Jimmy Butler on this list. He’s the name that is in every trade report and will be until he’s traded.
There’s no need to go through the entire backstory of the Jimmy Butler saga. Everyone knows what it is. The short version goes something like this. There was a miscommunication between the Timberwolves and Butler. As a result, he’s pissed, and he wants out. That’s basically it.
Butler is critical of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, owner Glen Taylor, coach/president Tom Thibadeau, parking lot attendants, hot dog vendors, and the guys that shoot t-shirt guns. He just wants out of Minnesota. That’s good for me/the Sixers. That means you have NO leverage. That’s not to say the Timberwolves will be low-balled, but there’s only so much I’d be willing to offer up front.
What would a Jimmy Butler trade look like?
Yup. That’s my offer. If you don’t like that, then I wish you the best getting something better. You get to pair Towns with Šarić in the front court, keep both Towns and Wiggins happy, plus you get a player in Korkmaz who wants to prove something AND you get the 2021 Miami pick? Who’s giving Minnesota more than this or something similar?
Keep in mind that Pat Riley and the Miami Heat only offered Josh Richardson and a pick (or multiple picks).
For the Sixers, they get a player in Butler who just makes the Sixers defense even more incredible. Look at this potential defensive lineup post Jimmy Butler trade:
C Joel Embiid
PF Ben Simmons (Simmons would theoretically guard the PF)
SF Robert Covington
SG Jimmy Butler
PG Markelle Fultz (who has gotten better, defensively, lately)
That’s … a lot of length and hands in passing lanes. That’s a defensive lineup that can take either Boston/Toronto/Milwaukee to seven games in a playoff series with a legitimate shot at winning.
Offensively, Butler can get baskets from various positions on the floor. He’s not a great three point shooter, but he’s not a total liability, either (career 34% shooter from three). Butler loves the pull-up jumper as 40% of his shots came off pull-ups last year. He also gets to the rim, though, because another 40% of his FGs came from inside ten feet. Butler has a very balanced offense and a tenacious defense.
Is it premature to think about who the Sixers should trade for TEN GAMES into the season? Yeah, probably. Right now, head coach Brett Brown has stated that the team isn’t one of the top three in the conference based on how they’re playing.
The Sixers missed on all of the big free agents this past off-season, and if the team under new GM Elton Brand is still “star hunting”, then it’s going to have to come via the trade this season unless the team prefers to wait until this upcoming off-season.
(Listen. A man can dream, okay. Let me dream about Klay splashing threes in South Philly. I don’t ask for much. Let me have this.)