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Analyzing 9 potential Sixers trade targets

Though the Sixers haven’t been directly linked to many players, there’s already a ton of buzz about several guys being available. We evaluate nine that could be fits.

Chicago Bulls v Toronto Raptors Photo by Andrew Lahodynskyj/Getty Images

‘Tis the season to do some window shopping, Sixers fans.

Dec. 15 is the day when NBA trade season truly begins. It’s the date when all players that were signed this offseason can be moved. While we haven’t seen much action around the league, this does create more buzz, rumors and make more trades a “SUCCESS” in your trade machine of choice.

Jan. 1 is likely a bigger date for your Sixers. That’s when the players the team acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in the James Harden trade can be moved. Still, that hasn’t stopped folks — including us! — from speculating about who the Sixers could target ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

With that in mind, let’s look at nine players that could be available* and make the most sense for the Sixers.

*All players listed here have had their names listed in trade reports to varying degrees and are realistic fits for the Sixers.

Zach LaVine

LaVine is still a really good player. He can score in bunches and would likely be an excellent fit in Nick Nurse’s scheme playing alongside Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.

But his contract and injury history are big red flags.

A lot of folks would bring up his defense — and to be clear, he is not a good defender — and how much success the Bulls are enjoying without him. Those are not nearly as big of concerns as paying him nearly $50M in 2026-27 or the lower-body injuries that have crept up during his career. The two-time All-Star is out currently with right foot inflammation. On Dec. 6 the Bulls announced he would be out three-to-four weeks.

LaVine is still just 28, but using premium assets to acquire him feels dicey. There’s not much sense — despite the Sixers being linked to LaVine — that Daryl Morey has much interest. If the price becomes so low, a la the Jimmy Butler trade to the Sixers once upon time, you’d have to consider it. But as of now, that does not appear to be the case.

Pascal Siakam

In a vacuum, Siakam would seem like a great player to acquire. He’s a two-time All-Star and a player that has steadily improved as a playmaker during his NBA career. This is also the final year of his deal, meaning you could almost test drive the fit for this season and possibly sign him long term if it works out.

Siakam has the ability to create for himself and others. He has tremendous length and athleticism to help on defense. He also has a great understanding of what Nurse wants to do on both sides of the ball after playing for the Sixers’ head coach for so long.

The biggest issue is fit though.

While that familiarity sounds good, it doesn’t seem like Siakam and Nurse parted on such great terms in Toronto. On the court, Siakam’s three-point shooting is a major red flag. He’s hitting just 25.0% from deep this season and has hit only 31.4% from beyond the arc since 2020-21. With Embiid and Maxey, the spacing is critical. The fit feels clunky.

Royce O’Neale

O’Neale might be the least sexiest name on this list, but that belies his true value to a contender. At 6-foot-4, 226 pounds, O’Neale can reasonably guard one through four. He’s physical, tough and smart on the defensive end of the floor.

He’s also far from a zero on the other end. He’s a career 38.5% shooter from three and is hitting 38.4% so far this season. He’s a good connective passer that understands his limitations and stars in his role.

O’Neale is on the final year of his deal and would be very easy to trade for from a financial standpoint with his $9.5M cap hit. The only issue could be that he’s a tad redundant for the Sixers with players like De’Anthony Melton and Patrick Beverley already entrenched in the rotation. Still, having a player like O’Neale could be huge when playing teams like Boston and Milwaukee.

Bojan Bogdanovic

If Bogdanovic was auditioning in the Pistons’ loss in Detroit to the Sixers a couple weeks back, it would be believable. The veteran looked like the only real NBA player on the floor for the Pistons for most of the night. The veteran dropped 33 points in 33 minutes, going 5-of-9 from three and 11-of-19 from the field.

The Croatian wing has been in the fringe All-Star realm throughout most of his NBA career. While he’s not the same player at 34, he still possesses an attractive skill set. He can still really shoot the basketball on a healthy volume (over 40% on 6.6 attempts since 2019-20). He’s also still plenty craft enough to beat overaggressive closeouts and attack bigs off the dribble.

The only downside is that the price tag could be high. There was a recent report that the Pistons (insanely) turned down two first-rounders for Bogdanovic last season. If you can get him for one first and salary filler that would make a lot more sense. His contract is only partially guaranteed ($2M) for 2024-25, so there’s optionality there in the offseason.

Bogdan Bogdanovic

Really, any Bogdanovic will do!

While injuries have hampered Bogdan throughout his Hawks tenure, he’s been very productive for Atlanta since signing there back in 2020. He’s averaged 15.5 points while shooting 40.1% from three on over seven attempts a game as a Hawk. The 31-year-old also has plenty off the bounce, with the ability to lead the offense at times.

Bogdanovic is an aggressive player on both sides of the ball. At 6-foot-5 he can guard multiple positions on the perimeter. The Serbian guard has basically been playing professionally since he was 18, with plenty of accolades overseas and in international play. He has a strong track record of success.

He has a team-friendly club option for next season ($16M) which could make him extremely attractive for the Sixers, but also a player Atlanta could look to retain. Given his age, it’s hard to imagine he fits into the 12-16 Hawks’ future, but you never know. He’d fit in here quite nicely as a scorer, shooter and extra ball handler off the bench or as a starter.

Dorian Finney-Smith

DFS is a prototypical 3-and-D wing. He’s got great size and he’s a great shooter. After a wrist injury hampered him most of last season, he’s hitting 44.8% on 5.5 attempts from deep in 2023-24.

Frankly, you’d be targeting a player like DFS with the Celtics and Bucks in mind. At 6-foot-8, he has the requisite size to hound players like Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo. While the Sixers are in much better shape to match up with those players than maybe they have been in the past, Finney-Smith would immediately become their best option in those matchups.

Speaking of the postseason, he was excellent during the Mavericks’ run to the West Finals a couple years back, hitting 42.6% from three on over six attempts a game.

The price tag is likely to be very high for Finney-Smith as well because he has another year on his deal at a very reasonable $14.3M. Like Bojan, two firsts would be excessive. One first and filler would absolutely be worth considering.

Alex Caruso

Caruso was once a part of the Sixers’ summer league team. Should’ve kept!

But in all seriousness, Caruso has seen an almost meteoric rise in the NBA. He helped the Lakers win a title in 2020 and L.A. inexplicably let the guard sign with Chicago. With the Bulls, he’s established himself as one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. On or off ball, Caruso is an absolute nightmare for offensive players.

His shot has been a little up and down throughout his career and the volume has never been very high, but he is hitting 46.8% on 3.3 three per game this season. With the open looks he’d get here and Nurse empowering players offensively, the concern is likely minimal. While he’s not a true point guard necessarily, he can certainly dribble well enough to get the ball past half court and into Embiid’s hands.

The problem: Chicago might not trade him. Multiple reports say the Bulls, despite pretty openly looking into moving LaVine, will not blow things up. It seems silly to hang onto a 29-year-old player that could fetch you a decent haul, but that front office has done much sillier.

If Caruso is available, he could be a defensive game-changer in the postseason. It would be delightful to watch him chase Damian Lillard around. As Caruso has proven, he is not the type of player to be scared of the moment, either.

Keldon Johnson

This is a new and somewhat surprising name added to the fray. Johnson has already far exceeded his draft expectations after being selected 29th overall by the Spurs in 2019. Those Kentucky guards!

For years it’s almost felt like the Sixers were allergic to picking up players that could dribble, pass, shoot and defend. Players like Nico Batum and Kelly Oubre, Jr. have been a nice change in that regard. Johnson also fits that mold as a solidly built 6-foot-5, 220-pound guard/wing. Like Caruso, the three ball has been a little up and down (36.1% for his career), but the volume is healthy and, let’s face it, he’s played on some bad San Antonio teams with less-than-ideal spacing.

The biggest reason I’m so high on Johnson: his traits seem ideal for the postseason. Though he’s never actually participated in the playoffs, his game should fit the style of play well. He can create off the bounce and doesn’t shy away from contact at the rim. He’s not a lights out shooter, but he’s good enough to make teams pay if left unguarded. While he’s not impactful off the ball, his strength and athleticism make him a solid point-of-attack defender. He also doesn’t turn the ball over.

Not to look too far ahead, but he also feels like an ideal backcourt mate for Maxey. And with Melton likely to get a decent pay day in free agency, Johnson could fill that void (he’s signed to a very team-friendly deal). Johnson (24) and Maxey (23) could be a strong guard duo for years to come.

OG Anunoby

Anunoby has sort of felt like the guy all along, hasn’t he?

With Maxey at the point and Embiid down low, bringing in a stud wing player has always felt like the right move for the Sixers. Morey himself talked about the ideal player for this roster likely being a playmaking, two-way wing.

Anunoby’s calling card is his defense. At 26, he’s emerged as one of the best and most versatile defenders in the league. In games against Miami, you’ll see him guard Jimmy Butler and OG Anunoby. Against the Sixers, we’ve seen him guard everyone one from James Harden to Tyrese Maxey to Tobias Harris — he’s even had strong possessions against Embiid. He’s also impactful, leading the NBA in steals last year and routinely being at the elite tier in stocks for a wing.

Offensively, there could still be some unlocked potential, but as a No. 3 option for the Sixers, the fit feels pretty easy. Anunoby has fired up over six threes a game since 2020-21 and has hit 37.9% in that span. He can capably put the ball on the floor, is a decent connective passer and is a solid off-ball mover. He’s also an athletic and strong finisher at the rim.

Basically think about swapping Anunoby for Harris in the starting lineup. He’s a better defender, ball handler, finisher, (and more willing) shooter ... you get the point.

Unlike Siakam, it seems like Nurse and Anunoby had a strong relationship. Nurse would often talk about how he believed Anunoby had the capability to be even better offensively. If you watch Anunoby, he does all the things that Nurse wants to do — even now with Nurse no longer coaching the Raptors.

In a perfect world, Morey moves whatever picks, Masai Ujiri can pretend to be competitive by bringing back someone like Harris on an expiring deal, you see what Anunoby looks like for the rest of the season, then look to lock up the ascending wing long term.

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