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How the Sixers can look to preserve Danny Green’s health

A crucial member of the Sixers rotation has struggled with a hamstring injury this season. How can they ensure he’s available for the long haul?

NBA: Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers have had their fair share of injury and COVID-19 problems to start the season. They’re finally getting back a mostly healthy roster, outside of the Ben Simmons conundrum and G League assignees. One of the more important role players, Danny Green, has also had his own injury concerns arise on multiple occasions, with what appears to be a nagging hamstring issue.

Green first strained his hamstring early in November, which led to a three-game absence. He eventually returned for a few games before re-aggravating the injury against the Indiana Pacers, which sidelined him for four games during the Sixers’ recent road trip.

Green’s age (sorry to bring that up, Danny) and specific injury make this situation tricky to handle. Hamstring issues can linger, and the only real cure is proper rest and management. The Sixers have been much more cautious in getting Green back this second time around. He’s on a minutes restriction hovering around 20-23 minutes for the foreseeable future.

While Green isn’t considered a star by any means, he is very important to the Sixers. Head coach Doc Rivers went with Matisse Thybulle in the starting lineup while Green was out and even kept Thybulle during Green’s first two games back. Thybulle is gifted defender but the offensive struggles still remain and are detrimental. Thybulle’s presence leads teams to aggressively double Joel Embiid in the post, and the Minnesota Timberwolves frequently did so on Saturday.

Most would point to Furkan Korkmaz as another option to start while Green progresses, but Korkmaz’s prolonged shooting struggles complicate matters. Temporarily starting Korkmaz could help alleviate his slump, but that remains to be seen.

Green has brought a balance between the offensive-minded Korkmaz and defensive-minded Thybulle. Green is a streaky, albeit good, shooter while also being a capable defender.

Finding ways to manage Green’s injury and health is very important to the Sixers success, especially in the postseason. There are many paths to potentially doing so, with Rivers mentioning the team is considering moving Green into a full-time bench role.

While I love the idea of keeping Green fresh in a more limited role, it does come with its fair share of aforementioned problems. The best iteration of this Sixers team has been with Green starting.

This leads me to another way to address this problem: the trade market. I don’t think the Sixers should trade Green unless it’s in a blockbuster deal bringing back someone like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal. He’s on a very fair contract with a non-guaranteed year next season, which effectively serves as a team option.

With a Ben Simmons deal remaining a possibility (or likelihood), the opportunity to bolster the wing depth around Green is available. The Sixers might be wise to target a wing in the return package for Simmons rather than a guard or big, especially given Tyrese Maxey’s emergence.

So, who fits the bill?

Ideal targets would include Jaylen Brown, Brandon Ingram and OG Anunoby. Obviously, Lillard nor Beal seems available currently, but these wings might be some of the best-case options. Acquiring a larger wing that isn’t a big-name headliner could work as well. Many of the teams rumored to have interest in Simmons offer a plethora of talent at that position, with players such as Keldon Johnson, TJ Warren, Caris LeVert, Robert Covington, Harrison Barnes or Saddiq Bey.

Whether it’s through trade or lineup management, the Sixers need to devise a plan to protect the health of their star role player. His spacing, leadership and defense are crucial to Embiid and the team’s success.

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