This time last year, the Liberty Ballers homepage was spammed with Ben Simmons trade rumors which ultimately ended with the mercurial All-Star being traded to the Nets in a blockbuster deal which made James Harden a Sixer.
It’s hard to imagine a deal of that magnitude occurring for he Sixers now. In fact, the only real slop we’ve gotten is that the Sixers could be looking to move players to dip below the tax and avoid repeater tax hits. (Our Bryan Toporek did an excellent deep dive on why uncertainty over the CBA is likely a large factor for Morey and company).
So, we’ll keep you posted on the latest involving the Sixers and the latest news around the NBA right here.
Wish there was more to write, but as we sit here roughly two weeks away from the deadline there’s little smoke around the Sixers.
The most reported bit we’ve gotten is about the team looking to sell off a player outside of the rotation that could provide tax relief. Furkan Korkmaz and Jaden Springer have been mentioned as players that could be moved to get Philly below the tax. Matisse Thybulle’s name seemingly always comes up in rumors, though the team’s best option might be to actually play him.
But will there be a trade that actually improves the team’s title odds?
Around the NBA
Holy mackerel did we get a bombshell story on Friday, Feb. 3.
Breaking: Brooklyn Nets All-Star Kyrie Irving has requested a trade, league sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. The franchise has been informed that Irving prefers to move on ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline – or will leave in free agency in July.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 3, 2023
It sounds like the Brooklyn Nets offered Kyrie Irving (who is currently among the top 15 names on the latest KIA MVP Ladder) some type of extension he felt was insulting, maybe?
And the starting All-Star is now following in James Harden and Kevin Durant’s footsteps by requesting a trade from Brooklyn. According to Shams Charania “the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks have emerged as potential suitors.”
Irving was likely on the Sixers secret “list of 30” names a year ago they’d have traded Ben Simmons for. But it turned out to be Harden that was available, not Irving.
We did hear a rumor the Sixers were interested in Irving back in July:
Shams Charania mentioning again how the 76ers are one of three suitors for Kyrie Irving. pic.twitter.com/2Hy78f2zBA— Aidan Doc (@AidanDoc_) July 3, 2022
That came shortly after a report that Irving listed Philadelphia as one of six destinations he’d be open to playing for in the event of a trade.
Source: The Sixers will not be making any Kyrie Irving inquiries. The organization doesn’t have any interest.— Jason Dumas (@JDumasReports) February 3, 2023
The Sixers may not be interested in putting together a package for Irving. They could offer Tobias Harris and potentially a future pick swap that conveys a year after the 2027 pick they already owe Brooklyn, or start amending protections on that distant future selection. Realistically, they’d probably have to offer Tyrese Maxey which would make the whole thing a non-starter for them.
[Not every fan would want to root for Irving for good reason, but if they could magically obtain the wildly controversial star without parting with Embiid, Harden, Maxey, or Melton they’d pretty easily vault themselves to the top of title-odds leader board-, that being the opinion of Dave Early.]
But if somehow, someway Irving headed West, it would make the road to the Eastern Conference Championship that much easier for Joel Embiid and co. Would Brooklyn simultaneously revisit Kevin Durant trades again? Or would they just try to ignore the whole thing and throw money at it come July? The Clippers have emerged as a strong suitor and it’s starting to feel, as of Saturday before the deadline, like a deal might get done:
The Nets are proceeding in talks as though they’re determined to find a deal for Irving ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline, sources said.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 5, 2023
As of now, we’ve learned Irving may be seeking a four-year max deal in the neighborhood of $200M, and the interested teams have been reluctant to commit to that.
Stein noted that the Nets would be open to Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie in a potential Kyrie Irving blockbuster.
Thybulle has recently been connected to the Sacramento Kings and the Golden State Warriors, and a few reports have noted other “contending” teams who’ve inquired about the two time former Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year at Washington and two time NBA All Defensive Second Teamer with the 76ers. But other rumors have pointed to the Sixers confidence that if he isn’t moved, they can retain him on a team-friendly deal come summer.
DFS had a terrific playoff run a year ago but has battled injuries as of late. He’s the type of player all contenders are looking for. He’s a rangy wing, a beast on defense, and can hit open threes at a decent clip. It’s been reported the Mavericks would consider parting with his team-friendly contract in a bigger package netting them a star.
Yeah, good luck flipping him and spare parts into a true star to help Luka Doncic Mr. Cuban. But the mere fact that a high-caliber player (who’d be a great fit in Philly) might be obtainable will be very intriguing to teams around the league.
It’s been reported that the Denver Nuggets believe they have traction on netting a first-round pick for Hyland. Why they’d trade a good player while pursuing an NBA title is curious. Perhaps they’ve been told by a rebuilding team to wrangle up some future capital in a bigger package? If we were running the Nuggets we’d be eyeing a player like OG Anunoby or Dorian Finney-Smith. They have a plethora of scorers with Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray. They may feel that renders Bones skill set redundant. But what they may have learned after allowing the Sixers to drop 126 on them recently is that they need more perimeter stoppers. James Harden was surgical in that recent game vs. Denver.
The Hyland rumor dropped the same weekend.
We got our first trade of consequence (sort of) Monday when Hachimura was traded to the Lakers. The Wizards received Kendrick Nunn and three second-rounders. According to reports, the Lakers plan to re-sign the Gonzaga product this offseason. He will now rejoin Russell Westbrook and Troy Brown Jr., both former teammates of the Toyama, Japan native when they played together in Washington.
Rob Pelinka says the Lakers are not done making upgrades either. The latest on The Brodie front, from Jake Fischer:
“The Lakers are surely searching for continued upgrades to their lineup around LeBron James and Anthony Davis following their January addition of Rui Hachimura, sources said, and have held conversations with both Utah and Charlotte regarding trading Russell Westbrook and the final year of his $47 million salary. It’s been repeated by league personnel that Miami has little regard for swapping Kyle Lowry for Westbrook.
Even still, the Lakers have remained reluctant to offer both their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in any deal — a price rival teams have consistently required to take on Westbrook’s contract — let alone sacrifice both selections without protections.
Any trade sending out Westbrook and two firsts would of course eliminate the possibility of a second deal utilizing one of those first-rounders to acquire another piece with Patrick Beverley and Lonnie Walker’s salaries, such as the Lakers’ primary target of Detroit Pistons sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic, whom rival teams are starting to believe Detroit actually will retain through Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline.”
Though it will never reach the fever pitch of the Simmons drama from a year ago, apparently the saga between Crowder and the Suns is going to drag on just as long. Crowder has been linked to several teams, including the Bucks, Hawks and Warriors, per the most recent reporting. A source told Liberty Ballers previously that the Sixers do not have interest in the veteran forward.
The former Dukee’s name has popped up a lot in trade rumors ever since Knicks president Leon Rose traded a first-round pick for him back in 2022. Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau was clearly never on board with that move, and probably hasn’t given Reddish a fair chance to develop there - at least if you ask Knicks fans. They have complained about Thibs reluctance to play the young guys even more than Sixers fans have regarding Doc Rivers this season. Reddish has fallen out of the rotation, and rumors are that teams like the Bucks and Lakers have demonstrated interest in his supposed two-second round pick going price, per Fred Katz via The Athletic.
According to Marc Stein: “The Lakers likely could have traded for the Knicks’ Cam Reddish for a similar package that they sent to Washington but opted for Hachimura, who was drafted ninth overall by the Wizards in 2019.”
A couple of us at Liberty Ballers don’t mind the idea of acquiring the 6-foot-7 wing’s Bird Rights and hope the Norristown, PA. native can inject some athleticism into an aging Sixers roster.
A source previously told Liberty Ballers the Sixers weren’t interest in Reddish. But who knows if that has changed at all as Reddish’s stock, and Rose’s asking price, both continue to drop.
Per Marc Stein, via Substack: “Prices are still generally high for the best players presumed to be in play; Detroit, just to name one example, is still seeking an unprotected first-round pick for Bojan Bogdanović.”
Back on Jan. 17, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported: “the The Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Dallas Mavericks are among the teams registering interest in Detroit’s Bojan Bogdanović, league sources say. The Pistons have maintained that they prefer to keep Bogdanović moving forward, but as The Athletic’s James Edwards III reported, the franchise is open to conversations, and it’s believed an unprotected first-round pick can pry Bogdanović out of Detroit.”
It’s come up that numerous teams are interested in the San Antonio Spurs big man and native of Vienna, Austria. A little fun history. Poeltl was originally drafted by Masai Ujiri of the Toronto Raptors back in 2016, ninth overall. Go way back into the annals of B-ball Reference and you can see Masai (when he was running the Nuggets) traded this pick to the Knicks in the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster. Then when he relocated to Toronto replacing Bryan Colangelo, he reacquired that Denver pick by again fleecing James Dolan’s Knicks, pawning off Bryan Colangelo’s hand-picked bust Andrea Bargnani for that first. He selected Poeltl, who he was famously able to pair with DeMar DeRozan and acquire Kawhi Leonard. And voila. Masai multi-team magic.
Sixers fans were annoyed Gregg Popovich wasn’t ready to rebuild around a picks-based package for Kawhi Leonard back in 2018, opting for Ujiri’s star-plus-prospect package. But Pop it seems is finally ready to admit defeat here and truly hit the reset button.
Per LJ Ellis, there are around half a dozen teams inquiring about Jake Puddle, including the Raptors, Celtics, Pelicans, and Blazers, among them, as the Spurs turn their eyes towards the NBA Draft. But their asking price (currently rumored to be two first-round picks) seems exorbitant. Nonetheless, it’s yep... you guessed it, Masai Ujiri’s Raptors who are rumored to have the most interest. It would be some major full-circle that comes full-circle vibes if it happened and Ellis notes that Toronto’s Gary Trent Jr. would be most likely to land in San Antonio in that hypothetical. Speaking of Trent Jr.....
Gary Trent Jr.
Going with the Masai appreciation theme here.... Ujiri once traded Greivis Vásquez to the Bucks for both Norman Powell and the pick that he’d one day use to select OG Anunoby. Wow. He’d later trade Powell to Portland for Trent Jr.
GTj, whose shot very well at times vs. your Sixers, has a player option for this coming summer that he’ll probably decline. That’s partly why Masai would be wise to shop him ahead of this deadline if they’re not sure how he fits into the long-term plan. (What exactly is the long-term plan up North, only time will tell).
“As Marc Stein previously reported, Trent appears to be the most likely Raptor to be traded, and by a wide margin. Various rival executives are under the impression Toronto will even search to move Trent before the deadline, as Trent is positioned to decline next season’s $18.5 million player option and test free agency. Early indications are that Trent will be seeking upward of $25 million in average annual value before the 2023-24 campaign begins.”
Fischer notes the Raptors would be interested in a player like the Charlotte Hornets’ Jalen McDaniels in exchange for their soon-to-be free-agent shooter.
The Sixers made offers for Eric Gordon on draft day last June but were apparently shot down; this only lends more credence to conspiracy theorists who postulate there is a Morey Tax in place by his former franchise. Morey has attempted to swing several deals with Tilman Fertitta’s club since he left, none have come to fruition.
The Gordon play not going down may have ultimately worked out in Philadelphia’s favor as De’Anthony Melton has been an excellent fit at a much lower price point.
Fischer reports the Rockets still want a first-round pick for their 34-year-old guard, and former teammate of Harden, Danuel House, Montrezl Harrell, and P.J. Tucker.
Marc Stein reported that the Bucks actually offered four second-round picks for EG and were shot down because Houston is still holding out for a first. Realistically, Philly would have to offer a handful of players to land Gordon so we’re not holding our breath there.
Recently, Tim MacMahon of ESPN said on his “Howdy Partners” pod that “some people I’ve talked to in Houston say there’s an understanding that James Harden really enjoys playing with Eric Gordon,” and hinted the Rockets could try to use that element to lure The Beard away from Philly come the summer.
Houston could trade Gordon at the deadline for draft picks and even try to bring him back if the acquiring team declined his team option by summer. Gordon is on the books for $19.5M this season with the aforementioned team option set at $20.9 for 2024. Most contenders who could really benefit from Gordon’s services in a reserve-plus role won’t be able to meet that price so either the Rockets must cave a little or just hold on to a potentially reluctant vet mentor for their young core.
Eric Gordon has had ENOUGH— Zeke | Vibes Meteorologist (@itzjustzeke) January 1, 2023
If Sam Hinkie once tanked for a decade (as the legend apparently goes on national broadcasts) then the Atlanta Hawks semi-stretch four and lob thread Collins has been in trade rumors for roughly the same amount of time. Like Myles Turner at this point, we’ve heard about something maybe happening so many times we’re in Danny Ainge levels of believe-it-when-we-see-it mode. But still, you have to look at JC as one of the likelier players to get dealt this trade season.
Per Chris Haynes, “the calls keep coming in,” the latest one from New Orleans, but Landry Fields’ team is also apparently comfortable retaining the Wake Forrest product. Collins has been connected in recent talks with the Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report also adds the Cavaliers, Clippers, Suns, Wizards, and Mavericks
A bit of humor. There were at one point reports that the Hawks wanted a big multi-pick haul for Collins around the same time we’d hear certain teams would be asking Atlanta to include picks just to absorb his exorbitant contract.
Which is it, is he worth a star level package or does Atlanta have to burn picks to dump him? The truth is apparently in the middle. A recent update from Sam Amick notes the Hawks are “merely asking for a quality player in return.”
According to Marc Stein, the Hornets are listening to offers for the former Jazz and Celtic’s guard. Hayward wouldn’t be a simple swap, given how much money he is still owed and he has a 15 percent trade kicker on top. He earns $30M this season and $31.5M next season. He’s had a brutal injury streak dating back to the 2017 compound ankle fracture he sustained. Since the 2020 season, he’s had a lot of difficulty staying on the floor for Michael Jordan’s club. But if a contender or wannabee contender had a contract they prefer even less to Hayward’s (say, Russell Westbrook?) maybe there’s something here we’ll see.
“OG Anunoby is a player around the league there is great interest in,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said. “I think there’s a belief that Toronto could get as many as three first-round picks in a deal for OG Anunoby if they decided to move him.”
One of the most talented and valuable players to pop up in rumors is former Hoosier, Ogugua “O.G.” Anunoby Jr., the 25 year-old, London born Raptors wing. When you think of “stars” in the NBA, some fans think of names like Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, Jordan Poole, Tyrese Maxey, Anfernee Simons, CJ McCollum, and other walking buckets.
OG isn’t the flashy scorer these guys are, but his overall skill set, not terribly unlike Mikal Bridges’, is arguably as valuable — if not more — to a true contender than a few of those names if not all of them. According to DunksandThrees.com OG has the fourth-best defensive estimated plus-minus. You cannot shut down a player like Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler, or Donovan Mitchell. But OG is at least one of the premiere options to task with those unfortunate challenges.
The late Jonathan Tjarks, a truly great sportswriter, once wrote for The Ringer that “Mikal Bridges is a role player with the impact of a superstar.” He presciently wrote that even before Bridges was drafted by the 76ers. How right he was, as our Jackson Frank wrote for NBA.com recently:
broke down the nuances of mikal bridges' defensive greatness, with a nod to his evolving offensive role: https://t.co/zBxCXJrXjK— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 24, 2023
OG is roughly in a similar tier as Mikal, shooting 36 percent from distance, proving secondary ball-creation in a pinch for the Raps.
Which is probably why a GM as smart as Ujiri doesn’t seem desperate to move on. “At least one team has previously offered three first-round picks for Anunoby, and Siakam is worth more,” wrote Bruce Arthur. Nothing materializing yet reveals just how much Toronto values their big wing stopper, if that report is accurate.
Our first thought here was that maybe the Knicks made this offer. They have a plethora of heavily-protected picks they hilariously opted not to use on Cavaliers’ MVP candidate Donovan Mitchell when Utah was shopping the Queens, NY native. New York also hoped that players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander might be the next stud to be made available. But SGA has seemed to play himself into untouchable territory lately; unless Sam Presti of OKC has another James Harden-level blunder up his sleeve.
We’ve heard the Raptors are more likely to move on from Trent Jr. than Fred VanVleet, and more likely to move on from either of them than OG. We’ve heard that Scottie Barnes is basically untouchable (even if that looks a bit silly when we wonder if they could have had Kevin Durant for Barnes back in July).
The Raptors are one of the most intriguing teams to keep an eye on this deadline, and other than turning down an offer of Tyrese Maxey for Kyle Lowry, Ujiri usually pushes all the right buttons.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor connected FVV with the Clippers, who’ve also been linked to Miami’s Kyle Lowry. VanVleet has a player option many assume he’ll decline in favor of a longer-term deal. Folks are speculating that this free agent class will be eyeing two-year deals in hopes of hitting free agency again come summer 2025, when there is likely to be a new television deal, spiking salary caps across the NBA.
As our Bryan Toporek explained, “Sixers fans should want either the NBA or the National Basketball Players Association to opt out of the current CBA by the Feb. 8 deadline.”
FVV could find himself in a new uniform if Toronto can find the right value for the 29-year-old. At just 21-27, it behooves the Raps to consider just how much they could get for their high-quality, championship-pedigree players in draft picks, then pivot to the lottery where they recently found Scottie Barnes. If they were better Pascal Siakam would be in MVP consideration. But as it stands, somehow, they just can’t win these days. This team won a championship by going all in on the lottery, despite the narrative they won it without having any lottery picks they actually drafted on the roster. The truth was that they had a big old pile of lottery picks they deftly traded for what became their 2019 title-winning core.
Selling some of that former core off now might be the right decision.
According to a recent spot by Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus:
“I don’t think the Wolves reinvest in Russell,” a Western Conference executive said. “The combination of players they have just isn’t clicking.”
If Minnesota goes in a different direction by the deadline, it would need to fill Russell’s 32.5 minutes a game. It’s unclear where he might land, though teams mentioned as possibilities by various NBA sources included the Heat, Suns, Mavericks and Clippers.”
Eyeballing those teams it seems the Mavericks might be motivated to find a way to replace at least a small portion of what Jalen Brunson used to bring to the table. Getting the money to work might be a little more tricky for a team like the Miami Heat unless the Timberwolves were interested in a player like Duncan Robinson or Kyle Lowry.
D-Lo isn’t the only playmaker the Suns have thought about....
Rozier has also been linked to the Lakers for Russell Westbrook by Fischer.
Utah Jazz firesale?
According to Marc Stein, Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler and Ochai Agbaji are off limits. But everyone else may be fair game as far as Danny Ainge is concerned. That includes names like Jordan Clarkson, Kelly Olynyk, Jarred Vanderbilt, Mike Conley, Collin Sexton, Malik Beasley, Talen Horton-Tucker, Rudy Gay, and more.
Per Fischer, on Feb. 4:
“Vanderbilt’s name has also appeared amid the trade deadline conversation surrounding reserve big men, most notably with the Philadelphia 76ers, sources told Yahoo Sports. While teams like the Indiana Pacers have viewed the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt as an attractive option at power forward, Vanderbilt has been described by league personnel as a leading target in Philadelphia’s quest to fortify its frontcourt reserves behind Joel Embiid.”
Will he be “Trader Dan” or will he be “Danny Almost had it?”
Stein cautions us to not be surprised if the Chicago Bulls move on from Andre Drummond. He notes the veteran center and former All-Star isn’t playing big minutes for Billy Donovan. Kyle Neubeck, PhillyVoice has mentioned his name. Liberty Ballers has reported that it sounds like he’d be open to a reunion, and swapping him for Furkan Korkmaz would allow the team to slip the luxury tax while maintaining cash and a roster spot for a buyout candidate.
John McDonnell of The Washington Post reports that the Wizards would like to keep their core together. They’re not interested in trading key names like Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, or Kyle Kuzma. Apparently Rui Hachimura wasn’t part of that group.
Josh Hart and Jusuf Nurkic
According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the Portland Trailblazers would like to extend former Sixer Jerami Grant as they like his fit alongside franchise cornerstone, Damian Lillard. But...
“Portland has given rival teams the impression that it is open to discussing the majority of its players, particularly Josh Hart and Jusuf Nurkic, sources said, as the franchise remains committed to building a playoff contender around Lillard. Portland has engaged teams with an eye toward size with athleticism, plus wing-shooting defenders, sources said. Hart has become one of the buzzier names among league executives this week, as he’s expected to decline a $12.9 million player option for the 2023-24 season.”
The Chicago Bulls’ defense and passing specialist who helped LeBron James win a title in the bubble may be on the move as well. K.C. Johnson reports for NBCS-Chicago that the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors have each inquired about the College Station, TX native. Fischer noted on his “Please Don’t Aggregate This” podcast that the Bulls are seeking two first round picks in return.