We’re only one day away from the NBA’s March 25 trade deadline. As one of the reported “leaders” in the running to land Kyle Lowry, the Philadelphia 76ers have been involved in plenty of trade rumors.
The latest from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is that in addition to the Sixers discussing Lowry trades with the Toronto Raptors, the Sixers have also had talks regarding Norman Powell. And as for non-Raptors, Wojnarowski added in his report that the Sixers have shown interest in Lonzo Ball and George Hill:
“Philadelphia has discussed separate deals with Toronto on both Lowry and Powell, sources said. The Sixers have also inquired about other available guards on the marketplace, including Oklahoma City’s George Hill and New Orleans’ Lonzo Ball, sources said.”
Wojnarowski added that Lowry’s chances of leaving the Raptors in a trade are “gaining traction,” and made it clear how likely it is that Powell is dealt, too. “Powell’s future has become far less about whether he’ll be moved, but which among a dozen or so suitors will acquire him,” Wojnarowski noted.
No, none of these guards are as good as Lowry. They can’t provide the same combination of quality playmaking, shooting, and ball handling that would make Lowry such a great fit in Philly as someone who can bolster their perimeter creation and play on or off the ball. However, all three of these guys could help the Sixers.
Hill is at the bottom of the list here in terms of how much value he’d provide, but he’d clearly help. Hill has been rumored as a name of interest for the Sixers for a while. As a capable defender, reliable complementary ball-handler, and an efficient shooter (40.2 percent from three over the last six seasons), he makes plenty of sense as someone who could give the Sixers’ bench a boost. He shouldn’t cost too much to acquire, either.
Ball is a guard some Sixers fans have had plenty of interest in, and for good reason. He’s a strong and versatile defender, a terrific playmaker who could push the pace with his outlet passes and work well in transition with Ben Simmons, and he’s turned into a legitimately good shooter. Ball has refined his release and upped his confidence, and has now shot 37.9 percent from three on an impressive 6.8 attempts per game over the last two seasons — including career-highs of 38.5 percent and 7.8 attempts this year. With his quick trigger and high level of volume and efficiency, Ball would be a welcome plus floor spacer for the Sixers.
The drawback with Ball is that he doesn’t offer much as a scorer or driver off the dribble, which is one area where the Sixers could use more firepower. He’s also a restricted free agent after this season, and should command a fair price for his new contract. But, even still, Ball has plenty to offer in several areas that would help Philly. Having Ball’s playmaking and shooting in particular would give the bench a real lift, reduce the load on guards like Shake Milton, and open up more opportunities for guys to move and cut off the ball. And with Ball’s defense, the Sixers would have even more lineup versatility at their disposal as well.
There’s a lot to like about Powell as a potential acquisition for the Sixers. Even though he doesn’t offer too much as a passer, I’d argue that Powell is the best target out of these three players besides Lowry, who is still the top player the Sixers should pursue.
Powell is easily having the best season of his career. He’s averaging 19.5 points per game with a 64.2 true shooting percentage, while shooting 43.4 percent from deep on 6.5 attempts a night. Powell can shoot off movement and a little off the bounce; create a bit off the dribble; generate a few free throws (3.9 attempts per game); and he’s improved as a pick-and-roll player, where he ranks in the 91st percentile as a ball-handler this season. Even though Powell doesn’t possess the defense or passing of Ball (or Lowry, of course), it’s creation off the dribble where the Sixers need help the most. Powell would do more in that area than Ball and Hill.
Wojnarowski added in his report that, unsurprisingly, teams interested in acquiring Powell would also prefer to find a way to sign him to a new contract, rather than giving up valuable assets to only have him for the remainder of this season. The challenge comes with how much Norman Powell could get in free agency this year. He’s expected to decline his $11.61 million player option for 2021-22, and NBA executives believe that he could receive $20 million per year, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe. That said, acquiring Powell for a playoff run this season and having his Bird rights for free agency would be a great result for the Sixers.
There’s going to be a lot to talk about over the next couple of days. We’ll keep you updated as things develop.