A Win Win Win Win Win Win Trade Featuring Kings and Thunder

Yes. That's 6 wins but only three teams. Kings get a win. Thunder get a win. Sixers get wins on four different fronts

This trade will sound familiar; but, I want to emphasize just what Morey may be passing up just to wait for Beal or Lillard who may never come available.

First, I want to address the deficiencies of Morey's strategy. By keeping Ben into the regular season he is setting up the team for a lot of locker room and on court tension. I have read that Morey doesn't mind intra-team tension or even conflict. There are numerous cases of teams plagued by tension or even dissension that have won a pennant or World Series in baseball. I assume the same is true for basketball, although baseball is the team sport that depends almost entirely on individual effort. In basketball, players have to pass to each other, screen for each other, provide defensive help for each other So, I am very skeptical that team unity and cohesion is not important. Also, clashing personalities or disgruntlement over who is starting is a far different thing than having one of the starting players intentionally not trying or even trying to help the other team win. It is this that Morey is risking for little chance of a payoff. After all, if Portland or Washington is going to go into full rebuild, who says they will want Simmons as opposed to a wealth of picks and younger promising players. In my mind, Morey is taking a huge risk for no point. He can get Beal or Lillard when and if they come available even, or perhaps especially, after he trades Ben.

The proposed trade/sequence of trades, is win for Oklahoma because they get a young starting center who not only fits their timeline but also bumps Mascula to the bench. The Kings win because they get Ben without giving up Fox or Halliburton and get rid of Bagley and Hield.

The Sixers win on four fronts: 1) they get rid of Ben before he can torpedo their season, intentionally or not; 2) they get under the cap avoiding the luxury tax and repeater penalty this year and eliminating the possibility of a repeater penalty next year; 3) end up with a potential championship roster this year and in many years to come; and 4) acquire the assets to move up to the 1st or 2nd pick in the next draft or fob off for Beal or Lillard.

I will describe these trades as a sequence rather than a three team trade, which it could be, in order to make the rational of the trades for both sides clear(er).

The first trade is Ben and Shake Milton to the Kings for Hield, Bagley, Davion Mitchell, the King's 2022 unprotected 1st round pick, their 2023 unprotected 1st round pick, and their 2022 second round pick via Detroit or Chicago.

I think Milton is worth more than a second round pick because he is a perfectly usable rotation piece at shooting guard and may even be a fringe starter. Most second round picks don't turn out so well.

I think Ben is worth a near All-Star and three or four 1st round picks. I derive this from Morey's rejected asking price of an All-Star plus three 1st round picks and three 1st round pick swaps. I make the asking price more palatable by asking for a good player and three or four 1st round picks, not an All-Star and no swaps.

Hield is a former All-Star, Davion Mitchell was the ninth pick in this year's draft, Bagley was the second pick in 2018. Those three equal Hield plus two first round draft picks. The Kings add their unprotected 1st round picks for 2022 and 2024 as well as the aforementioned 2nd round pick and receive Milton as well. Essentially, the trade boils down to Ben for Hield plus a little less than four 1st round picks with Milton making up the difference plus a second round pick.

I think this is a fair deal that the Kings might go for because a) they want Ben a lot and b) they no longer want Hield or Bagley or their contracts. If the Kings balk, adding protections for the 1st round picks from being in the top 3 or 5 that convert to future unprotected 1st round picks may well convince them. I just think when one is talking Ben Simmons, one should expect unprotected picks.

The Sixers aren't done as yet. They flip Bagley plus Springer to the Thunder for Tre Mann, this year's 18th pick, and two more 1st round picks in 2022, the ones originally owned by the Clippers and the Suns.

Springer is not worth Tre Mann, but he is worth one of the two 1st round picks. Bagley is worth Tre Mann and the other late 1st round pick. If not two late 1st round picks, Oklahoma would have to fork over their only other 2022 1st round pick, Detroit's. I am assuming Oklahoma would prefer to part with the 2 late round picks than to miss out on potential lottery balls. So, it is one 1st round pick or two. According to one draft pick value chart, the Detroit pick is likely to be worth much more the Clippers' and the Suns' picks combined.

I know some people are not hot on Bagley, including the Kings. But, he is a former number 2 pick, who averages 20 points and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career and he is only 22. He has a lot of time to add to his game. Also, Mike Mascula is the starting center for the Thunder, Mike Mascula. Let that sink in for awhile if you don't think the Thunder might very well welcome Bagley aboard.

Some say Bagley has too many injuries over his first 3 years in the league, but Embiid entirely missed his first two and a half years and has missed many more games every year since then. So, one never knows whether or not injuries will happen or if a young player will be worth having on one's roster even if he often misses games, as Embiid has so far. I am not saying Bagley is Embiid. If he were, I would want a whole lot more than Tre Mann and a late 1st round pick.

So, how does this add up to four wins for the Sixers? Number 1, getting rid of Ben Simmons – accomplished. Number 2, getting under the luxury tax – accomplished, the resulting roster ends up being $500k under the tax. Number 4, acquiring assets to draft a star or trade for one – accomplished. The Sixers would now have four 1st round picks in 2022 (Kings', Sixers, Clippers, Suns') and two 1st round picks in 2023. That is 6 1st round picks in the next two drafts. Even if they don't get all of their picks projected from these trades, they would have four in the next two drafts. That is a lot of fire power for moving up in the 2022 draft, or acquiring Beal or Lillard. Other teams with a lot of draft picks would likely have to spread them out into the future and may not even want Beal or Lillard because they aren't contenders. The Sixers might be the only serious bidder offering a chance for a total rebuild which, by the way, Simmons is not. He is just one player and a total rebuild requires a lot more than just one player.

Number 3, end up with a championship contending roster – you bet. The front line remains exactly the same as it is now. There is a change at shooting guard swapping out Milton for Hield. I view this as an unquestionable upgrade. The shooting guards are now Curry, Hield, and Joe, very, very solid, in my estimation. The point guard position is inexperienced but deep in quality: Maxey, Mitchell and Mann (there's a unit nickname in there somewhere.). Also, due to the preseason's revelation and reminder, Korkmaz has to be included among the possible point guards as well. He has experience from his days in the Turkish league and played well in one outing in the preseason. Personally, I would make him the starter for the beginning of the years and see if one of the others can catch up with him by the playoffs. Yes, I would start him over Maxey because Korkmaz has by far the better 3 point shot, probably better defense, probably more experience at PG, more experience in the NBA, and is 6'7" instead of 6'2", so he can see over defending point guards while Maxey can't.

Don't tell me about all the things we lose by losing Ben. Those things are gone anyway. The question is what can one get back. Also, Mitchell's forte is defense and he is already 23 with 3 years experience plus a red shirt year. He did well in the summer league and should be ready to play this year. So, Mitchell replaces some of the defense from the PG position, certainly not Simmons's quality or switching ability. (Springer is not ready to play this year.)

So, this is a very deep 'bullet-proof' team in my opinion and should definitely be among the favorites for the championship. Why? Well, they have the star power to match many of the contenders and are deeper than any other team. This roster can sustain a multitude of injuries and still keep humming along. Center and power forward are the weakest positions in terms of being able to sustain injuries. Yet, if Embiid is injured, Drummond is a very good starting caliber center, and there would still be 2 backups available, Reed and Bassey. Power forward really only has Harris, Niang, Reed and maybe Bassey. So, it is possible that only one injury can be sustained at this position before lineups without power forwards would have to be considered. Green, Thybulle, Korkmaz are available at the small forward position and, if need be, Niang and probably Reed could fill in there as well. Almost everybody can play shooting guard, at least it seems that way: Curry, Hield, Joe, Green, Thybulle, Korkmaz, Maxey and perhaps Tre Mann. Point guard has the aforementioned four possibilities: Maxey, Korkmaz, Mitchell, and Mann.

Why is this a championship contender? Because, despite the prevailing opinion, it doesn't take 2 or 3 superstars to win. Milwaukee proved that this year by winning with only one. There are only a very few teams that have more than one superstar and I would have included Philly among them, but that didn't help Philly much in the playoffs. The other teams with two or more superstars are the Lakers who had two and now have three (Lebron, Davis, Westbrook), the Nets with three (Durrant, Harden, and Irving), the clippers (Leonard and George) and, oh yeah, nobody else. If we look at this year's playoff participants, we find Utah arguably has two (Donovan Mitchell and Gobert), Memphis none, Dallas one (was supposed to be two, Doncic and Porzingis), Portland one (Lillard), Phoenix one, arguably two (Paul, Booker), Denver one (Jokic), Milwaukee one (Giannis), Washington one (Beal), Knicks none, Hawks one (Young), Boston one (Tatum), Miami one (Butler). Most of these teams have a second player a tier below, an All-Star or near All-Star. Philly has a near All-Star in Harris. Some have a third player in the near All-Star category, some don't. Philly no longer does, but, I believe makes up for this shortcoming with quality depth at every position. There really isn't a weak position as long as the PGs come through.

The list of superstars includes: Lebron, Davis, Westbrook, Durrant, Harden, Irving, Leonard, George, Gobert, Doncic, Lillard, Paul, Jokic, Giannis, Beal, Tatum, Butler, Embiid and Simmons, nineteen players. It can be argued that Westbrook or Simmons don't belong in this company. The only other players who undoubtedly belong are Stephen Curry and Zion Williams. The list includes all of the players in CBS's top 20. So, I think these are the superstars. When there are only 20 to 25 superstars in a league with 30 teams, it is really hard to get two of them on one team. This is especially true after two teams have already claimed 3 a piece, leaving 14 to 19 for the remaining 28 teams. Not only is it nearly impossible to get two let alone three of the remaining players onto one team, it is not even necessary, because teams with multiple superstars don't always win; they almost always win. (Darn. I just looked it up.) But, Giannis and company just proved this point, although they stand alone over the last decade or so. It could be that Giannis and company would not have made it this year without all of the injuries to star players on other teams or they could foretell a new reality wherein superstars are not as important as they were. When so many players are excellent 3 point shooters, it is possible that multiple superstars on a team are no longer necessary and that one superlative superstar can be enough.

This Sixers roster has one superlative superstar in Embiid who, like Giannis, brings all the interior offense a team could need as well as top notch defense at a key defensive position. It has Harris as a near All-Star. And, it is absolutely loaded with excellent 3 point shooters: Harris, Niang, Green, Korkmaz, Curry, Hield, and Joe. Davion Mitchell shot 44.7% on about 132 three pointers in his final year of college. Tre Mann shot 40.2% on about 112 three pointers in his final year of college. Paul Reed shot 44.4% on his 54 three pointers in the G League last year. Maxey and Thybulle show promise and are working hard on their three point shooting. Even Embiid shoots threes at a high rate. That leaves only Drummond and Bassey as non-three point threats. So, this roster conforms to the contemporary NBA offensive paradigm that compensates for superstars, three point shooting from every position and often..

This Sixers roster features good to great defense from Embiid, Drummond, Reed, Green, and Thybulle. Harris, Korkmaz and Joe can hold their own defensively. Davion Mitchell and Bassey both come with tremendous defensive reputations from college. Maxey's defense is improving rapidly. That leaves only Curry, Hield, Niang, and Tre Mann as defensive liabilities, and Niang isn't terrible. This is a very good defensive team with good defenders at every position: C Embiid, Drummond, Bassey; PF Harris, Reed; SF Green, Thybulle; SG Green Thybulle, PG Mitchell. A lineup of Embiid, Reed, Green, Thybulle and Mitchell makes for a very good defensive group to put in at the end of games. This Sixers group may not be in the top three defenses this year, but they would be in the top 10, possibly top 5.

This roster's depth, defense, three point shooting, and Embiid put them ahead of most teams just comparing rosters. As injuries start to diminish rosters, this roster will hold up better than others as long as Embiid can play. If they lose Curry, no problem. If they lose Green, no problem. If they lose Maxey, no problem. Even losing Harris should not present much difficulty. Even losing Embiid would not be devastating There are no key backups they could lose that would be eliminating. At the trade deadline, this roster could be improved or shored up due to all of its young assets and draft assets. And, next year this roster can be improved by adding a top 3 pick or multiple 1st rounders or even a sign-and-trade for an All-Star. Even if this plan comes up one or two 1st round picks short, the same still applies. So, you tell me, what the heck is Morey thinking?

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