We’ve all gotten our healthy doses of James Harden rumors and reports 24 hours ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline. We’ve seen some of the framework of what the deal might possibly look like through some reports. Most recently, the Philadelphia Inquirer touched on how Matisse Thybulle and Seth Curry have been mentioned in discussions.
Both Thybulle and Curry have played vital roles in the rotation this season and have been a part of the Sixers’ success. They’re both on team-friendly contracts and have thrived within their roles respectively. The idea of one or both possibly leaving could very well become a real thing, which begs the question: Which one should they try to keep in Harden talks?
I want to see something: assuming the package/draft compensation is relatively the same, who would you rather put into a Harden deal?— Harrison Grimm (@Harrison_Grimm) February 7, 2022
There’s an argument for both. Keeping Thybulle, the best perimeter defender on the team, would be extremely beneficial for their defense. A backcourt of Tyrese Maxey and Harden isn’t flawless in regards to defense, and having someone of Thybulle’s talent would really help that. Roster construction also plays a part into this topic, as the Sixers’ next best defender is Danny Green — who is solid but just hasn’t been able to stay healthy for long durations throughout this season. He also isn’t getting any younger.
There’s just as strong as an argument for keeping Curry then there is for Thybulle. Curry is statistically one of the best shooters in the NBA on a very fair contract that goes into next season. He’s developed some serious chemistry alongside Joel Embiid and is a huge part of the Sixers’ offense. We’ve seen just how special he can be in last season’s postseason, where he was essentially the Sixers’ second-best offensive player for a large portion of their run. We also have to take into consideration that Maxey might be their best shooter statistically on the current roster if Curry was moved, which is something that the team or fans might not be comfortable with.
While both of these players thrive within their role they certainly aren’t perfect. An argument can be made for both that there are moments (most notably in the postseason) where having them on the floor can do more harm than good. Thybulle, to this point, is still an offensive liability. He’s shooting the worst percentage of his career from three. We’ve also seen how Curry can get targeted defensively in moments, most notably in Game 7 of the Hawks series.
We also have to factor in that both will be approaching new contracts at relatively the same time. Both should get a healthy pay raise but I’d expect Curry to really cash out. We’ve seen how valuable shooting is in today’s NBA, with guys such as Davis Bertans, Joe Harris and Duncan Robinson inking massive contracts in recent memory.
The luxury of shooting very well might play into this decision. It’s simply easier to get defensive-minded players than it is to find elite shooters such as Curry. It’s even more rare to find an elite shooter on a contract that isn’t monstrous in size. Not only would you probably be giving up more of your cap space, but also assets as well. There just aren’t many shooters available for cheap in the modern NBA landscape where teams are now pushing for the new play-in tournament.
In an ideal world the Sixers will be able to keep both Curry and Thybulle, as both would be extremely helpful to a Harden-Embiid led Sixers team. However, the world is not perfect, and if it comes down to it the Sixers very well may have to let one go if they do indeed decide to pull the trigger for The Beard. While both role players provide a specific skill at a high level that shouldn’t stop them from getting an All-Star to pair next to Embiid.
This is a tough question to ask, as both are beloved by Sixers fans. The real answer to this question, in my opinion, is either — as long as it doesn’t involve Maxey. He, along with Embiid, are the only players that should be labeled as untouchable in Harden trade talks. You can re-address the need for either skillset on the NBA marketplace, albeit at different price ranges. Available players such as Buddy Hield, Davis Bertans, Torrey Craig, or Justin Holiday can help make up for the skills that you might lose in a Harden deal.
It remains to be seen if a deal will come to fruition in the next 24 hours, or what exactly the Sixers would give up on top of Ben Simmons. Ultimately, they should do whatever they can to land James Harden without giving up their franchise cornerstones with Embiid and Maxey.