Whether people realize it or not, when the Philadelphia 76ers are playing at their peak, they are one of the best teams in basketball. Moves have been made over the years in order to build a winning group, most recently the acquisition of star wing Jimmy Butler. But there’s a cost to doing business. Players end up moving on both sides, and in the instance of the Butler trade, the Sixers had to give up two valuable role players in Robert Covington and Dario Saric. Following that deal, the Sixers aren’t flush with trade chips, but they still have pieces to make some smaller moves.
One big complaint this season has been about the poor production from the bench. That problem can be blamed on both the Sixers’ lack of depth, and also that the depth actually available isn’t particularly outstanding in the first place. If the Sixers are to go anywhere come playoff time, these types of problems need to be fixed.
Trading for a player isn’t always a clear-cut good decision. Sometimes a player ends up being the missing piece needed for a deep playoff run, while other times he ends up being glued to the bench because he wasn’t as useful as originally thought. Philadelphia needs to make some changes, and in order for those changes to happen, the team is going to need to part ways with some players who may still have some upside.
Wilson Chandler has found himself occupying a vital role for the Sixers since the Jimmy Butler trade. As the new starting power forward, Chandler has brought solid enough defense and shooting to keep from getting supplanted in the starting lineup. He won’t wow anyone, but he provides a sense of stability on most nights that the Sixers have needed.
Trading Chandler won’t net a big name, but he could be a part of a bigger deal due to his contract. In the final year of his deal, Chandler is making $12.8 million. There is the possibility of flipping his big contract for either another big contract or two middling contracts that could help the Sixers more down the road than Chandler would. Of course, in really any trade scenario, the Sixers would have to trade picks as well as contracts to get legitimate role players, but offering Chandler as well as a future first round pick, or a few second round picks, could get the Sixers an upgraded rotation piece.
If Chandler is traded to bring back a wing, then it’s possible Mike Muscala could shift into the starting lineup. However, Muscala could also be the reason why a bigger trade works out financially. His $5 million contract is in its final year and would allow a trading team to send a bigger contract back to Philadelphia. On the court, he also brings a solid touch from the outside and bulk on the inside, something that could be attractive to a team. On his own, Mike Muscala may not get a big return on the trade market, but his contract makes him a potentially vital piece in any trade the Sixers make.
The other tradable asset that is receiving playing time is Furkan Korkmaz. Korkmaz will be a free agent this offseason after the Sixers passed on picking up his team option. This makes moving him a tad bit harder, as teams aren’t guaranteed to have him for more than a few months. In and out of the rotation all year, it seems like the lack of defense and spotty shooting has finally caught up to him; he hasn’t been in the rotation for the better part of two weeks now. Making a modest $1.7 million, Korkmaz is more of a filler than anything else right now, but teams could do worse than to take a chance on a former first round pick as a deep reserve.
The biggest question mark of the past two years has been Markelle Fultz and his health. Now in his second injury-plagued season, Fultz has turned from potential franchise cornerstone to a player the team may look to trade sooner rather than later. Because of all the questions surrounding his health, trading him is tricky, but if an opposing team is willing to gamble the return on investment could be great.
Due to this, the Sixers are asking for more in a trade involving Fultz than any other player. The $8 million he is making this season is also a nice-sized contract that would allow the Sixers to receive a stronger return in a trade rather than settling for smaller contracts. Fultz is still the strongest trade option player-wise that the Sixers have — whether that is because of the high upside of the former first overall pick or because of the lack of playable options on the roster is up to you to decide.
These players won’t fetch much on the trade market, meaning the Sixers’ strongest trade assets are their draft picks. The Miami Heat 2021 first round pick is seen as a very important trade chip and could be the thing that pushes a trade through, but it seems like it will only be moved at the right price. The Sixers are taking the slow approach with this pick. They don't necessarily want to trade something so valuable for potential bench rentals, and you can’t really blame them.
The best trade package the Sixers can make is seen as the 2021 Heat first round pick, the unknown asset known as Markelle Fultz, Wilson Chandler, and another potential cap filler such as Amir Johnson (1 year, $2.4 million) or Justin Patton (1 year, $2.6 million). Risks would be made on both sides of a trade involving this package, as the opposing team would be hoping Fultz returns to form, while the Sixers roster would become even more shallow than it already is depending on who is being brought in.
In a nutshell, the Sixers’ real trade assets are Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, the Miami Heat 2021 first round pick, their own late first round pick in 2019, and Markelle Fultz with the contingency of good news on his health. It’s not the strongest group of trade chips, but it may be enough to help the Sixers get back to their Process roots and work the margins of the team. The buyout market is where the Sixers may make their big moves, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see one of these players shipped off.