So it seems as though there really is a good chance Kyle Lowry will be traded. And as we all know, Philly is a natural destination, his hometown plus a team with a glaring need for a player who can self-create, play the point, hit the three and defend — a description that only a tiny number of non-superstars answer to, Kyle Lowry prominent among them.
Would Lowry be enough to make the Sixers the best team in the East? It’s tough because we’re not just adding Lowry, we’d have to give up Danny Green to match salaries and Danny is a fine player — the upgrade from Green to Lowry is real but not enormous. Still, there’s a talent upgrade and also a fit upgrade, and combined they are meaningful. Personally I’d say it would push us ahead of Milwaukee, Miami, and everyone else up to and including the team Brooklyn is currently running out there and winning so much with. That team, of course, does not include the injured Kevin Durant. I can’t convince myself that Sixers + Lowry would be better than the Nets with a healthy KD — we’re a true superstar short in that battle. Basically we’d have one, Joel, while they’d have two, KD and Harden. I think Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving are both stars not superstars, and by that I mean each of them is worth perhaps, just estimating here, 1/3 as much as a superstar like the three named above. Others may disagree, but if I say Ben and Kyrie have similar value and you tell me that, no, Ben is vastly superior to Irving, I’m going to tell you you’re an even bigger homer than I am, and that’s saying something!
So what you have is, their third-best player is comparable to our second-best. Obviously Joel is having a better year than KD but KD has an established record of saving an extra gear for the playoffs; Joel may be better than KD when it’s all on the line in the postseason, but if both are fully healthy we don’t really have any reason to assume that — KD is a proven all-time great and Joel is using this year to prove he should be thought of that way as well. Upshot is, they still have James Harden and our next-best player is Tobi or Lowry, both of whom I love but neither of whom can hold a candle to the incredible James Harden. Again, I note that over the past month or so, Brooklyn without KD has played as well as Philly with Joel. I don’t really think the Nets are a full KD better than the Sixers, but I do think they’re better. We just don’t have big enough edges over guys like Joe Harris and Blake Griffin and whomever they’re likely to trade Dinwiddie for that it makes up for us not having Harden.
That said, if I’m right that adding Lowry makes us the second-best team in the East if everyone’s healthy, and the best team if we are healthy but KD’s hamstring is not all the way back... well, that will probably make for an intensely enjoyable playoff run, one with a legitimate shot to end with us in the Finals, perhaps as Finals winners. So even though I don’t see a Lowry addition as putting Philadelphia in the drivers’ seat, I do think it’s worthy of serious consideration. Especially as I think Kyle has enough in the tank to be a valuable team member for the subsequent two years, and I assume if Daryl deals for him he’ll have a plan to keep him around.
Which brings us to the big question: what will it cost to bring him here, in terms of players and picks? And on this I just have one simple point to make, which is why this may be my shortest article ever. And that point is the following: Danny Green is worth a first-round pick, and for some reason every single one of the 1,263 Lowry trade analyses I have read have ignored this. But I’ll be surprised if Daryl ignores it.
Let’s step back. My impression from reading trade proposals, especially by Philadelphia and Toronto fans but also from hoops pundits, is that the situation is pretty simple. We need to include Danny Green for cap matching. And then we need to add assets, where for purposes of this article I will count one “asset” as something equivalent to a Sixer first-round pick, that is, a late first. Tyrese Maxey is worth approximately one asset. Shake Milton is probably worth one asset despite his disappointing recent play as his potential is high and his contract is great. Furkan is probably worth less than half an asset. Matisse is probably worth somewhat more than an asset, though of course many will pretend he’s worth less than that because pointzzzz.
So here it is: Toronto fans think we should have to match cap — Danny, maybe Ferguson/Vincent/Scott/whatever, and add three assets. Philly fans think one asset should be enough; we think two is unreasonable, three an outrage, just as Torontonians think two is unreasonable, one an outrage. So that tells me that the deal lies at a space where Toronto gets 2 assets, give or take.
Now, is that Maxey and a pick, or Matisse and Shake, or what? It makes a big difference, if we give up Matisse and Shake and Green and Scott for Lowry, well, that wouldn’t make any sense, we’re already a little thin and we’d become extremely thin, we’d be hurting ourselves this year as well as long-run. Of course Toronto will have their preferences as well, maybe they love Maxey but don’t believe in Shake, or the reverse. Maybe they won’t do it without Matisse and maybe Matisse is a deal-breaker for us; indeed I rather hope he is as I love Matisse and think he’s going to be the best defensive non-big in basketball, if he isn’t already. Did you know the only player to be in the top five among non-bigs in defensive RAPTOR each of the past two years is Matisse Thybulle? THE ONLY ONE!!
So, say we choose assets whose cost is long-run, Maxey and a first. That’s a high price to pay for the upgrade from Danny Green, who is quite a good player, to the even-better Lowry. Especially if you have to throw in Scott or Bradley or something to make the cap work.
But do we have to give that much? It doesn’t seem to me that we should have to because of one thing: though Danny Green is not very valuable to Toronto, *he is valuable*! I mean, consider, suppose the Sixers didn’t have Danny green, suppose he played for the Bulls. We’d all be writing and reading posts about what it would take to get Danny Green on to the Sixers! He’s a player any team with title dreams can use, hits his threes, plays D, knows where to be — a 3 and D and B player, if you will! Plus veteran leadership, three rings, everyone likes him, gives great interview.... Don’t you think the Lakers would be interested in having him back? How about the Clips, the Heat? Maybe Denver and the Jazz are deep enough that they don’t need him, but maybe not! Or how about Boston? Actually I don’t want to think about Danny in Boston....
PJ Tucker just got traded in a complicated deal where in the end Milwaukee paid sort of half a first, plus a good backup PG, plus a one-year extension of the time where they can’t trade a first-rounder... like I say it’s complicated, they gave up a first that will be mid-20s for a second that will be low-to-mid 30s, so not really a full first rounder, but as I say there was other stuff too. Danny is and has always been a meaningfully better player than Tucker, plus Tucker is complaining while Danny is the personification of a good locker-room influence. I say Danny is worth a late first to somebody. It’s just that the somebody is not Toronto! I mean, they’d surely be glad to have him back, but if he were available for a late first they happened to hold, they wouldn’t think about trading for him for even an instant. They are a dangerous opponent, talented and well-coached, but this really does not appear to be their year. So why do we keep talking about trading Danny Green and his three rings there? It makes no sense!
In other words: this calls for a three-team deal involving a contender who wants Green. Let’s do the Celtics even though obviously it’s unlikely they’d want to help us or we them; I just choose them because I know their players and situation better than I know, say, the Clips’ and I am a lazy, lazy man!
- Sixers give: Green, one asset, could be Maxey, or a 2021 first-rounder, perhaps Knicks second-rounder as a sweetener, plus cap filler like Ferguson; get Kyle Lowry.
- Boston gives one asset — let’s say a first-round pick rather than a young player like Lankford or a Williams since BOS has a traded player exception they can use to take on Green’s salary if there are no other players coming to them (apologies if there’s some weird cap rule that prevents this deal, it’s just an example anyway). BOS gets Danny Green.
- Toronto gives Kyle Lowry, gets two firsts and a second, or a first and a good young prospect and a second or whatever; plus the cap filler players.
Now, look, if you think Toronto won’t trade Lowry unless they get three assets, well, I disagree, they know they’re probably losing him at the end of the season, why would they turn down two firsts, that would be crazy! If you think Miami or the Clippers or someone will offer the equivalent of three assets in value, I suppose that’s possible but given the lack of draft capital those teams control, I sort of doubt it — I mean, say you think Herro is worth two assets, two late firsts, would Miami give Herro plus Nunn? I’m dubious. Maybe if Toronto counts Dragic as a valuable asset rather than as cap match they could make something work, if so I guess we’re out of luck, but again, I think it’s unlikely.
So I think 2 or 2.5 assets will get it done. And then the question is, is Danny Green worth an asset, worth a late first or equivalent, to somebody this year? And obviously I don’t know, but honestly, we’re all assuming that people like George Hill, who last I looked does not have three rings, will net an asset, I just don’t see why that wouldn’t apply to Danny. I admit this article would be more persuasive if I could list for you a few trade possibilities that work in the Trade Machine and that makes sense for all three (or four!) teams. Which brings us to my secret agenda: as a decided non-master of the Trade Machine, I really want to look at some trades of this type, but I don’t have the skills. If this piece does it’s job it will inspire LB’s wonderful army of commenters to new creative heights. I challenge you all to come up with something so good that Daryl hears about it and makes it happen. I say we should get Lowry, and we should be able to get the upgrade from Danny for only one additional major asset. Let’s speak this into existence!