Hypothetically, if Luka Donćič became available for trade and asked to be a member of the Philadelphia 76ers specifically, what could Daryl Morey offer the Dallas Mavericks? Let’s find out, and also look at some more realistic trade targets following the James Harden blockbuster, shall we?
The Philadelphia 76ers opened the 2023-24 NBA season hot, winning six of their first seven games. The last one was a monster 106-103 victory over Boston to take first place. And while they were able to once bundle a few quality role players and picks to swap Ben Simmons for James Harden a couple years ago when Simmons wanted out, they did the much-discussed “step trade” this time around, landing not “the star” but the package they think can eventually net “the star” down the line.
Daryl Morey now has two additional future first-round picks, a first-round pick swap and two future second-rounders to dangle in trades. It remains to be seen if he can get any value for any of the quality role players he landed, too. But he may simply prefer to keep the likes of Nico Batum, Robert Covington and Marcus Morris Sr.
Sixers before-and-after trade package
Before the Portland Trail Blazers traded Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, some of us wondered: hypothetically, what is the Sixers’ all-in trade offer? Could they get into the Dame conversation if they wanted? Brian Windhorst once speculated that if they ever put Maxey on the table, they could absolutely land Dame D.O.L.L.A. But clearly, they didn’t want to risk upsetting Maxey with so many trade rumors for a blockbuster that they didn’t see as a clear win for their franchise anyway. (Ponder: would you rather trade Maxey, and one of Tobias Harris or James Harden for Damian Lillard, or would you rather trade Harden for stuff and try to add later a key piece to complement the Joel Embiid-Maxey core?)
Earlier this summer, the 76ers’ hypothetical “all in” offer would have looked something like this:
- Tyrese Maxey
- Tobias Harris (expiring)
- De’Anthony Melton
- Jaden Springer
- Conditional pick swaps in 2024, 2026, 2028
- Sixers’ own 2029 1st round-pick
- And up to six 2nd-round picks
But following the Harden “step trade,” now where do Morey and the Sixers stand?
Sixers can now offer three 1sts on Jan. 1 (2026 LAC/OKC/HOU or 2026 PHI, 2028 LAC, 2029 PHI), and up to five (!) on draft night (add 2024 PHI 1st + 2031 PHI 1st)… as well as potentially a max contract or more in cap space next summer. @btoporek with the dime— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) November 6, 2023
Tyrese Maxey(you have to think if he wasn’t on the table for Lillard that he’s very much part of the plan now in Philly... unless maybe someone like Luka Doncic suddenly shook loose, I guess).
- Tobias Harris
- De’Anthony Melton
- Jaden Springer
- Nic Batum, Robert Covington, Marcus Morris Sr., Kenyon Martin Jr.
- Paul Reed (possesses veto rights, one year)
- Patrick Beverley (now under a potential long-term contract, and trade eligible post Dec. 15)
- Kelly Oubre Jr. (trade eligible post Dec. 26)
- Conditional pick swaps in 2024, 2026, 2028, 2029 (via LAC), 2030
- Sixers’ own 2029 1st round-pick, 2028 first round pick (via LAC), 2026 first-round pick (via OKC/HOU/LAC), Sixers’ own 2024 first-round pick (on draft day), Sixers’ own 2031 first-round pick (on draft day)
- Up to six second-round picks (seven on 2024 draft night)
- Plus this:
ORL and SAS in particular are on the rise, but the Sixers are the only current playoff team projected to have significant cap space next summer.— Bryan Toporek (@btoporek) November 8, 2023
That should make them awfully tempting to veterans who don’t want to re-sign with their current teams. https://t.co/bLmVL5LzLi
So yeah, that’s up to three picks during this season and up to five first-round picks they can offer as soon as the day of the 2024 NBA Draft, plus count ‘em five conditional swap options. That’s essentially the going rate for a top-tier star these days, I’d venture, no?
There are also a couple of ways the Sixers can head into free agency with enough cap room for a max contract and then some. If they did trade for someone like OG Anunoby, you’d assume OG would take the vast majority of said cap space, but you get the picture.
They clearly wanted optionality and hope for the future so that they could go to one Mr. Joel Hans Embiid, and say basically hey, we’re pretty good now, but you can only DREAM how good we might be in the future if anyone wants to play with yourself and Tyrese here for big money. Besides, what do the Knicks have now that we don’t?
Keith Pompey recently hopped on a podcast with HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto and the duo had this intriguing back and forth about possible targets last week:
Scotto: “Some potential targets to keep an eye on for Philadelphia include Zach LaVine, who can spread the floor and OG Anunoby, who is loved by coach Nick Nurse, which I think is important....Other names Philadelphia will monitor include Cavaliers All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell and Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic, I’m told....
While there’s been chatter about LaVine, some may say, what about DeMar DeRozan? He’s an All-Star-caliber player, but he’s not an ideal fit in terms of spacing for Philadelphia.
Pascal Siakam has heard his name in trade rumors over the summer, but I don’t gather he’s a target the Sixers are looking at currently.
The last player I brainstormed about was Jerami Grant, who’s also been mentioned as a name to watch with Portland in a rebuild mode, but I’m told Philadelphia doesn’t see him as an ideal trade target.
Pompey: I think the main thing you have to pay attention to that will help you determine who they need to go after and who could be a main target is how Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris continue to play, but more so Maxey because a lot of people will want them to go after Mitchell or LaVine, but they’re not playing fantasy basketball. If Maxey continues to ascend and play the way he’s played, and I get it’s only been a few games, but if he continues to play that way, Anunoby and Bogdanovic may be the two best players for you. You can get those guys on a bargain compared to the other guys. Also, you’re going to pay Maxey, and then you’re going to get something, too.
OG and what he brings on the defensive end and Bogdanovic with the way that he can space the floor, to me, if Maxey continues to play lights out, that’s what you need. You need to build a roster.
With LaVine, how would he fit in knowing he’s not going to be the guy who’s not going to get as many shots as he wants? With Mitchell, he’s a guy who’s always been a No. 1 option. He went to Cleveland, and they had three guys that he overshadowed. I don’t know how that would work out with him, Embiid and Maxey.
When you have OG, a guy that Nurse loves, does all the intangible things and plays winning basketball, I like that.
Scotto: I think, ultimately, they’re going to get a wing player. OG’s two-way versatility makes sense. He hasn’t been an All-Star yet, but he’s certainly going to get paid a ton of money. I don’t know if they necessarily view him as a max guy, but they’d have the cap space to go that high if somebody else tried to make an offer in free agency.”
So insiders seem to think that because of Tyrese Maxey’s ascendance the team may be honed in on adding a two-way wing. At least that’s the glaring need. For that reason, both seem to think that a player like Anunoby might be atop Morey’s wishlist, aside from his pie-in-the-sky superstar dreams like Luka or Steph Curry, of course.
What does Daryl Morey think?
Per Morey on a recent RTRS pod from this week, when asked about trade or free agent targets by co-host Mike Levin, who might fit with both Joel and Tyrese, Morey first confirmed he’d prefer to acquire a player before the NBA Trade deadline rather than wait for the summer. Then Morey added:
“We won’t get our dream guy, almost for sure, we’ll probably have to get something and make it work. But I would say first off, they need to be pretty solid on both ends, like as you get into the playoffs it gets very hard for your top guys to be elite one-way...it has worked, it’s very rare though. The other thing would be, we probably need them to have a bit of a playmaking sort of connector, ball movement aspects, we are a little short on that and it becomes more important in the playoffs as well. It’s why you see someone like Furkan [Korkmaz] getting his run again because he, on a different level obviously, he adds something that not a ton of the players on our team have....
Mike Levin: I’m mentally ticking players off the list as you —
Morey also noted when he does make a move, he likely won’t have the luxury of selecting between seven amazing players, it’ll probably be just two, and he reiterated he’ll have to “make it work.”
But he said he thinks they now have the assets to acquire the “third-best player on a title team through the assets we acquired in this trade or the cap room. Often hard to acquire the second-best player on a title team but third is hard but much more possible,” Morey told Spike Eskin and Levin. He also said he thinks Maxey can be the second best if not first.
So we’ve heard Zach LaVine’s name mentioned quite a bit but when Daryl says the part about two-way play, it makes you think he’s less enthusiastic about Embiid and Maxey’s Pure Sweat training cousin in Chicago. As Scotto and Pompey agree, OG Anunoby certainly does seem to fit, but like Morey says, he may not get his top choice. On the other hand, the idea that Korkmaz is filling any “voids” here makes LaVine sound pretty darn appealing even if he’s not the ideal fit in the lead exec’s eyes, lol.
But at least Morey has built up the bundle into a respectable state.
Not long ago, my Knicks fans buddies were asking me if “the Process is dead, would I root for Joel Embiid when he’s in a Knicks uniform?” But yesterday, one of them asked me who would win a bidding war, the Knicks or Sixers in the event say Donovan Mitchell ever shook loose? I had to admit that the Knicks still had a better picks offer (assuming no Embiid, Maxey or Brunson were involved).
But that it was even a question is a testament to Morey’s knack for this industry. Remember, he inherited a rough situation, and even some of his better moves didn’t work out.
If Harden was the very hungry caterpillar (who left like $300-400M on the table hoping to improve his title chances), then Morey made caterpillars into lemonade... or at least now he has the ingredients to hopefully go make some again.