The NBA Trade Deadline isn’t far away. We’re now 13 days away from the February 9th cutoff. Two years ago fans were glued to their television sets, refreshing Twitter, wondering if the Sixers might pull off a deal involving names like Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle and Danny Green, plus a draft pick or two. That was roughly the reported asking price from Masai Ujiri’s Toronto Raptors for North Philly native Kyle Lowry. Daryl Morey apparently made a big offer. But ultimately Ujiri, uncharacteristically, made the costly error of turning Philadelphia down. There were also Sixers fans around that time who wanted Philly to make a push for then Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball.
The Sixers didn’t splash that big. They landed then Oklahoma vet, George Hill for a few second-rounders. And that one didn’t quite work out.
Last season the team hit pay dirt bringing in James Harden for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, a 2023, and 2027 first round pick. Our Sean Kennedy recently reminded us to put some respect on Curry’s name as well whenever we refer to that Harden-Simmons deal moving forwards. It was a steep price to pay, and the lack of movable picks now limits Phildelphia’s options today, but one assumes Daryl Morey has little to no regrets, thus far reuniting with The Beard.
But there have been almost no Sixers rumors this trade season. Despite myriad reports that the team wanted to maintain roster flexibility for future potential trades back in October when they waived Isaiah Joe and Charles Bassey, the only credible rumors we’ve gotten is that they may be eyeing a (disappointing) cost-cutting trade; for example, dumping a player like Furkan Korkmaz, Jaden Springer, or even Matisse Thybulle in an effort to dip below the luxury tax. Hopefully that stuff turns out to be mere conjecture.
Isaiah Joe’s success in Oklahoma puts even more pressure on Josh Haris, Doc Rivers, and Daryl Morey ahead of this deadline as well. If they can’t upgrade before the cut off point, they should deeply regret not keeping a sharpshooter like Joe then working out a cheap, long-term extension.
And while the latest tidbits aren’t necessarily connected to Philly, per se, there are some names worth monitoring.
The latest NBA trade (deadline) winds via This Week In Basketball: https://t.co/0PkN4Z81Ki— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 27, 2023
The latest per Marc Stein, via his Substack:
“Do not be surprised, league sources say, if the Bulls move former All-Star center Andre Drummond before the Feb. 9 trade. Drummond has been allotted fewer than 15 minutes in each of Chicago’s past 12 games.”
We’ve covered a possible reunion with Big Penguin here at Liberty Ballers. Our Paul Hudrick reported:
“It sure sounds like Drummond would welcome such a scenario. “I definitely miss playing here,” Drummond said. “Had a lot of fun playing for Doc ... The city of Philadelphia, the fan base is one of a kind, man. I loved it here.”
We actually outlined a scenario where the Sixers could trade Furkan Korkmaz, who makes $5M, and perhaps a second-round pick, for a player like Drummond, who makes $3.2M.
A deal like that might improve the Sixers playoff rotation, while simultaneously allowing them to reset Josh Harris’ pending luxury tax penalties. As Harris, David Blitzer, and co. look forward to spending big on keeping guys like Tyrese Maxey and James Harden around for the long haul, as well as Embiid’s well-earned supermax, it’s not totally unreasonable to factor in those punishing repeater tax fees. Striking a deal like that Korkmaz for Drummond one (or another featuring similarly salaried names) would also leave the Sixers just enough room to sign a player off the looming buyout market as well.
So don’t be surprised if they think long and hard about a deal like that, signals our Bryan Toporek.
As well as Montrezl Harrell has played at times this year (think of how indispensable he was vs. the Sacramento Kings on their recent road trip), Doc Rivers doesn’t seem to fully trust Trez in certain match ups. We didn’t have until the very next game to be reminded of that when Ben Simmons, a notoriously reluctant rim-attacker, went at the 6-7 center like he was the diminutive Lou Williams in that second half. Rivers wasted no time in benching his former 2020 Sixth Man of the Year for Tobias Harris, leaving Georges Niang and Tobi to handle a small-ball look. It seemed like a ‘well if I’m not gonna get stops anyway, I may as well get some ball-handling and shooting on the floor’ move by Doc. Philly gave up 133 points to the Kevin Durant less Nets.
Morey hinted before the season that Andre Drummond was better than Paul Reed. And if he still feels that is the case, it stands to reason he’d be on the phone with the Chicago Bulls this week to make an offer to bring back Drummond (who loved his time in Philly) if he hasn’t already.
Stein also indicates that basically anyone on the Utah Jazz save Lauri Markaanen, Walker Kessler, and Ochai Agbaji will be made available. That means names like Jordan Clarkson, who recently put up 38 points against Philadelphia in a loss on Jan. 14, could potentially be had.
We heard last preseason that the team didn’t feel the need for Clarkson’s skill set because they were going to make sure that one of Maxey and Harden stays on the floor at all times.
They’re out on Clarkson from what I’ve heard (though I think they should be in on him). They definitely wanted Gordon, but yeah, once they moved Green’s money that made it almost impossible. I think Morey wants to see how it all looks first and then reassess.— Paul Hudrick (@PaulHudrick) September 27, 2022
But could that have changed? Hudrick made the case for why the Sixers should absolutely go after Clarkson last September.
Is there another player on the Jazz they’d prefer? Kelly Olynyk, in theory, fits the role of stretch big. The team has recently leaned on Maxey to carry all-bench lineups and squeeze as many minutes out of the Harden-Joel Embiid duo as possible. But with Olynyk in tow, they could possibly play more five-out looks for The Beard when Joel takes a blow; as well as provide some insurance for an aging P.J. Tucker. Utah also has Jarred Vanderbilt who is far cheaper salary-wise and could inject some athleticism into Philadelphia’s reserve unit.
More from Stein:
“The [Orlando] Magic are welcoming trade inquiries for Mo Bamba, Gary Harris, Terrence Ross and R.J. Hampton ahead of the deadline, league sources say. Ross is a player, sources say, rival teams are monitoring as a potential buyout candidate if no trade materializes.”
Ross for buyout peanuts has to be enticing. But Gary Harris is a trade candidate that might fit the Sixers too. Before the Sixers spent on Tucker last free agency period, our Jackson Frank offered this on the former Nugget:
“There’s absolutely a gamble with his health and consistency, but it’s a warranted gamble for an archetype this team should be seeking. Avenues for external, substantial improvements aren’t abundant at the moment. The 2021-22 version of Harris may qualify as that. If he’s interested in venturing up to south Philly, this team should immediately prioritize landing him.”
Stein mentions Jae Crowder as well, a name many Sixers fans have popped into the trade machines.
Stein reports the Milwaukee Bucks have been and continue to be interested in Crowder, the disgruntled Suns veteran. The Bucks apparently offered four second-round picks for Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets and were rebuffed. There was some smoke regarding a potential Grayson Allen for New York Knicks’ Cam Reddish swap that hasn’t materialized. So it stands to reason the Bucks might now turn their attention to landing Crowder.
Milwaukee has had title-winning levels of success finding super cheap stretch bigs to defend and space the floor for Giannis over the years including names like P.J. Tucker, Bobby Portis, and of course, Brook Lopez.
But players like Andre Drummond, Gary Harris, Kelly Olynyk, Jordan Clarkson, Jarred Vanderbilt, or Terrence Ross might be worth keeping an eye on as the deadline and buyout market (in Ross’s case) approaches.