The (presumably) last domino to fall in Elton Brand’s plan to overhaul the Sixers roster dropped shortly before Thursday’s trade deadline.
Orlando is trading for Markelle Fultz, league source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2019
That’s right. The weirdest saga in recent NBA history is over, or at least taking its act down to Orlando (maybe it can get residency at one of the Disney theme parks). Less than two years after Philadelphia traded significant draft capital to take Markelle Fultz with the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, the still-just-20-year-old guard is heading to the Magic for a package centered around 6-foot-6 wing Jonathon Simmons.
Here’s the particulars on the @MarkelleF trade to #Magic. #Sixers get Jonathan Simmons a 2019 second-round pick (most favorable Cleveland Houston Orlando) and 2020 protected first Via OKC, according to a league source.— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) February 7, 2019
First off, the Oklahoma City first-rounder is the top-20 protected pick they first acquired by trading away Jerami Grant, then sent away in the Anzejs Pasecniks deal, which is a hilarious “snake eating its own tail” way to bring the last few years of Sixers transactions full circle. Also, the Sixers previously reacquired a pick they had traded away in dealing with the Magic during the Elfrid Payton-Dario Saric draft. That whole sequence worked out pretty well for the Sixers; hopefully, this deal does as well.
Now, ignoring the sunk cost of what the Sixers gave up to draft Fultz in the first place, this is a good return. No one had any realistic idea what the value actually was for Fultz. Will he play again this season? Will he ever play again? It seems absurd that he wouldn’t, but would you bet your life on it? Getting a first-round pick (even a somewhat fake first), plus a second-round pick, and a potentially useful player is a good job by Elton Brand.
The trade also makes a lot of sense for Orlando. The Magic have been seemingly searching for a point guard since Lil’ Penny was a spokesman. They didn’t give up anything of too much value and get to roll the dice on whatever chance you want to place on Fultz living up to his massive potential to some extent.
For the Sixers, they get the picks, plus Jonathon Simmons. Simmons is making $6 million this season and is partially guaranteed for $1 million next season ($5.7 million if Philadelphia decides to keep him). The 29-year-old had a promising start to his NBA career in San Antonio and it looked like he could be a late-bloomer, 3-and-D-type player.
However, he has not played well in Orlando, particularly during the 2018-19 campaign. In 41 games this season, Simmons has shot just 36.4 percent from the field and 22.9 percent from behind the arc. His advanced stats numbers on the defensive end have been much worse in Orlando than in San Antonio.
Even if Simmons isn’t useful on the court, and the Sixers part ways this summer for $1 million on next year’s cap sheet, the draft capital is still a good return for Fultz. Both the team and the player were in need of a fresh start. I wish Markelle all the best in Orlando and truly hope he figures out whatever the situation is with his shoulder and his shot. The Sixers needed to move on, though.
Much more to come on this deal and all the trade deadline week madness.