The latest Sixers moves have left their bench a lot thinner. Trading away Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Justin Anderson, and Richaun Holmes in return for Mike Muscala and cash weren’t moves that many saw coming. Now with these deep rotational players gone, so is the logjam for minutes.
Wing was the biggest need this offseason and the Sixers made it a priority to get better in that area, meaning both bringing in new guys and letting go of non-contributors. Is there a possibility the players that are now gone can become effective NBA players? Sure. But it just didn’t seem like that was ever going to happen in Philadelphia, so you can’t blame the team for going in a different direction with fresh faces.
The acquisitions of Zhaire Smith, Wilson Chandler, and Mike Muscala this offseason are seemingly all ones that will have an immediate impact on the team. None of these guys will be star players, but they will eat up some minutes off the bench. Getting rid of players like TLC, Anderson and Holmes allows the new players to come in and immediately be inserted into the rotation in some form or another. While none of the three traded had consistent minutes, they are minutes nonetheless, so now new players can step in and fill the roles that those three couldn’t handle.
With the pressing need for playable wings, it was surprising to see the Sixers move on from two players with some potential to fill desperately needed roles. Some argue Justin Anderson has untapped potential that the Sixers were never able to find, and to see him be moved when he could have become a reliable bench player hurts. Since these moves really only involve deep rotation players it shouldn’t come back to hurt the Sixers, but it’s definitely a case of “what could have been”.
What these trades do say is that the team feels confident enough in their younger bench players to make a difference this year, and that all starts with Zhaire Smith and Furkan Korkmaz. These two seem to be the obvious choices to pick up the minutes left behind by TLC and Anderson, and they could become what the Sixers thought they were getting in the French shooter and the gritty defender last year.
Zhaire Smith was always expected to have some sort of role on the team this year, so the real winner of these trades has to be Furkan Korkmaz. If Korkmaz can at least show the type of confidence in his shot seen in Las Vegas for short spurts during real basketball games, then the Sixers will have another weapon. He may still not be in the rotation consistently because of the amount of wings in front of him, but the team should be able to find out this year if he can contribute at the NBA level.
Overall, the Sixers just feel like a team better suited to combat the powerhouses of the Eastern Conference. Even the smaller moves the team made are ones that fill spots with more proven players or young players with upside, rather than players who have had opportunities but haven’t found much success.