Well, so much for a simple, role-player based trade with the Atlanta Hawks. The Philadelphia 76ers have gone the opposite route, loading up the top of the roster even more. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sixers have agreed to trade Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, their 2020 first-round pick, the 2021 unprotected Miami Heat first-round pick, and two second rounders to the LA Clippers for Tobias Harris, Mike Scott and Boban Marjanovic.
A source has confirmed the trade with Liberty Ballers and a call will be made Wednesday morning to finalize it.
The trade is a stunning one. For a start, Woj decided to drop a late-night bomb when most NBA fans assume they’re safe from such news. Secondly, the Sixers went all in on their star hunting mindset when many fans would have been content with guys like Jeremy Lin and Noah Vonleh. Thirdly, this is a lot to give up for Harris on an expiring contract. He’s set to be a free agent this summer, when his current bargain salary of $14.8 million for 2018-19 will expire and he may be set to move “toward a maximum-level contract in free agency,” as Woj noted.
It doesn’t sound like the concern of trading so much for an expiring talent is quite as pressing, though, as Woj added that the Sixers are budgeting to keep both Harris and Jimmy Butler in free agency this summer to maintain their newly established Big 4.
Nevertheless, the Sixers still dealt away plenty. It’s hard to establish good depth around three stars let alone four, and even though Boban is a fun, solid player to use in certain matchups, Philly have lost two bench players in Muscala (who, admittedly, has been a real negative) and the blossoming Shamet for one in Scott when Boban's lack of agility is a problem come playoff time. Plus, four picks for an expiring player, including what could be a fairly high lottery pick in Miami’s 2021 first, is a hefty price.
Moves on the buyout market — possibly highlighted by a wing such as Wesley Matthews — will be vital in solidifying the Sixers’ bench.
Obviously, there are important things to like about this trade, too. First and foremost, Harris is really good, and a far better upgrade at the 4 than most probably expected. He’s a terrific third scorer behind Embiid and Butler who has continually improved his game off the dribble, from the post, at the line, and especially from 3-point range. Having a 42.2 percent 3-point shooter, on good volume with a fair share of pull-ups, at the four with Harris’ creative abilities is enticing. He’s having a career year with 20.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game with a 60.2 True Shooting Percentage.
After cashing in some assets for even more talent, the Sixers' already elite starters may have just become the most talented starting five in the East.
With the Sixers clearly aiming for a run to the Finals this season now, there are new kinks to work out with fit, even shallower depth, and how to stagger their stars, something that will be even more essential now. How Harris is utilized — whether he’s more of a secondary creator in Embiid-Redick based lineups, or an extra creator/spacer for Butler-Simmons units — will be interesting to see. While this revamped team meshes, Harris is a great fit, someone who can spot-up at a high level and doesn’t need to dribble endlessly to be effective.
This is just my initial reaction. There will be plenty more thought and analysis from myself and the rest of the Liberty Ballers team to follow soon.