Plenty of fans still hold out hope that Markelle Fultz will turn his career around in a Sixers uniform. But I think it would be in everyone’s best interest to move on. He’s only 20 and has plenty of time to turn his career around, although it may not be as likely to happen in Philadelphia over the course of his current contract. He’d receive a bigger opportunity somewhere else. The team could get to continue with their expedited timeline they launched with the Jimmy Butler trade. Some fans might prefer to part with draft assets but I would consider doing that also for more than one upgrade.
I think there are a few teams who make natural trade partners with Philadelphia: namely the Pacers, Grizzlies, Wizards, Hawks, Pistons, Pelicans, and Magic.
Here are a few Markelle Fultz trades I think might help the Sixers contend for home court advantage and get a better look at whether or not a trio of Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid is worth betting on long-term. Hopefully they will also give Fultz a bigger opportunity so that he can turn his career around somewhere else, especially if that’s his preference which has been reported in the past.
1) Markelle Fultz, Zhaire Smith, Wilson Chandler, Justin Patton and the war-chest of draft assets
Per Adrian Wojnarowski the Pelicans have “no interest” in moving on from Holiday. But from just a basketball standpoint, it makes sense for them to move on for a package comprised of young players and assets, shut down Anthony Davis, and tank for Zion Williamson.
The Sixers would likely have to kick in their own 2019 pick, the Bulls 2nd round pick, and the Miami 2021 unprotected pick. I wouldn’t be surprised (if there was even one other bidder in this market) if the Pelicans insisted upon Landry Shamet as well. You’d think they’d want at least one good young player they could count on to suit up this season. It depletes the Sixers of essentially all of their best assets. But it gives them a big-four that could probably come out of the east, maybe breakup some of their rival’s cores in the process and possibly even give the Warriors a run for their money. It might give them some leverage in negotiations with Jimmy Butler, and if not and he left in July, they’d at least have Holiday under contract for a few years and a max-contract to offer others.
2) Fultz to Detroit, Cory Joseph and Reggie Bullock to the Sixers, and Ish Smith and Furkan Korkmaz to the Pacers along with draft assets.
(Maybe the Sixers own 2019 first and a second from Detroit goes to Indiana in this type of deal?)
My sources have consistently said that the team with the most interest in ‘Kelle has been the Pistons. The issue there is that they don’t have much to give and don’t want to risk that he isn’t available to play. But a three-team type of deal like this one is extremely low risk for them.
They’d only be parting with (the opportunity cost of) what they could get for Ish Smith and Reggie Bullock if they shopped them directly (which is probably very little).
Fultz represents a very very low-cost shot at some upside that hasn’t been easy to come by in that market via free-agency.
As for Indiana, it remains to be seen which players on expiring deals may be a long-term option for them. ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently suggested they want to keep Bojan Bogdanovic, and could be considering bundling a few others in a larger deal for Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies. A deal like this would make sense if Memphis preferred draft assets to players. With a deal like the one above, the Pacers could give Memphis more of what they’d like in exchange for Conley: picks.
If that falls through, it could still leave Joseph available because the Pacers probably won’t look to bring everyone back. Darren Collison and Tyreke Evans are both worth inquiring about as well in the back court and Thad Young and Kyle O’Quinn are both front-court players on expiring deals.
3) Taurean Prince and Dewayne Dedmon for Fultz and draft assets:
For what it’s worth, the Hawks were not one of the teams who I heard reached out about Fultz when it was reported he would like a change of scenery. But it seems like the type of low-risk acquisition they should at least consider. With a lengthy rebuild ahead of them, Atlanta offers a low-pressure environment with lots of shooters to space the floor. That might aide a potential Fultz comeback.
This is the type of deal that could get head coach Brett Brown the “adult” on the wing and the rim-protector off the bench he has suggested they are looking for.
The value of Prince is pretty hard to gauge although they’re reportedly shopping him and the Sixers are reportedly targeting him as well as his teammates Jeremy Lin and Dedmon. Lowe says they’re asking for a young player and a pick but have received little traction. Maybe the price comes down even further.
One year Prince looks like a lock-down defender who can’t shoot, the next he’s lost defensively but finally knocking down shots. But there have been flashes of bringing it all together recently.
I imagine the Hawks would much prefer to part with Lin (who certainly could help the Sixers if he is healthy) but he doesn’t seem worth the same price as a much younger player like Prince who offers more upside (in theory) defensively. But the Sixers also have some second-round picks that are very close to first rounders they could dangle as well (looking at you Bulls pick).
4) Mike Muscala and Markelle Fultz for Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green, no picks involved
With a brutal and likely lengthy rebuild ahead of them, Memphis seems like a team who might prefer to “retool” rather than go belly up. But it just feels like they’d be procrastinating. Temple and Green are both helpful role players who’d upgrade the Sixers right away. Temple isn’t the same defender he was in years past but he isn’t completely lost. Green is a good two-way power forward and Brett Brown likes a stretch four alongside Embiid. Green is not the shooter Muscala is but he’s a better defender.
Ideally, I’d want some players that I would be excited to re-sign if I struck out on superstars in free-agency. Players like Cory Joseph fit that bill more so than Green.
5) Terrence Ross for Markelle Fultz
This is a guy I’ve written about a couple times back in December and again this year. Zach Lowe says this is one of his favorite hypothetical trades. It’s not sexy but it might just be win-win. Ross grades out as one of the league’s better pick-n-roll defenders and catch and shoot players over the last couple of seasons. That’s exactly what the team needs. At 6’6 he has some size as well on the wing which helps him on both ends:
League leaders for 3 point percentage when only given 2-4' of room (tight contest), minimum of 50 attempts:— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) February 3, 2019
Impressive showing from Curry (absurd 42.4% on 91 attempts)
Kyrie: 38.7% on 62 tries
G. Green 20/57 35.1%
T. Ross: 28/91 30.8%
Harden 83!/274! (30.3%) pic.twitter.com/PEdyoYYH9a
6) Markelle Fultz for Nikola Mirotic
There has been plenty of speculation about which way the Peli’s want to go now that they won’t be re-signing Anthony Davis long term. This is one way they could go full-on-rebuild and hope to start fresh and tank and chase Zion Williamson while allowing Fultz to develop slowly without pressure.
They’re reportedly shopping Mirotic anyway and the Sixers would be smart to call as our own Sean Kennedy has argued persuasively. Niko is good, maintains a respectable clip on high-volume 3 point shooting and is underrated defensively although not great.
7) Markelle Fultz and Furkan Korkmaz for Trevor Ariza
We already completed one wave of “how can you trade the former number one overall pick to rent Trevor Ariza,” when he was with the Suns, so why not go back to the well?
Wizards’ GM Ernie Grunfeld might feel a little damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t here. He traded Kelly Oubre for Trevor Ariza and now he can either a) sign Ariza, an older veteran to a longer term deal, b) risk losing him for nothing, or c) sign him to a one-year balloon deal and hope the Suns give him Oubre back before the 2020 deadline. Just kidding on C. Sort of.
If Grunfeld delivered the local product Fultz, who might feel comfortable being close to home, he’d at least have something his fans could be hopeful about.
There’s not a ton of ways the Wizards can become great again without getting really lucky. This is one possibility for them to do just that.
Ariza could defend Jayson Tatum, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Kawhi Leonard and give the Sixers a crazy amount of switch-ability on the wing. His fit is a no-brainer but the price isn’t. Our own Adam Aaronson suggested Wilson Chandler and the Sixers own first round pick for Ariza in his trade target primer.