In the wake of yesterday’s NBA trade deadline, Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey spoke to reporters at the team facility earlier today. He discussed the organization’s thinking behind the Matisse Thybulle-for-Jalen McDaniels trade, but also what the team looks to do going forward, meaning in the buyout market. According to those in the know, this year’s buyout market is expected to be robust.
The post-trade deadline NBA buyout/waived player market is going to be deep, folks.— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) February 9, 2023
Many folks were surprised the Sixers didn’t bring a new big man into the mix prior to the trade deadline, and the buyout market would be the the next available avenue to address that position. When asked if there were plans to bring in a big via the buyout market, Morey had this to say:
“Some of that flexibility that we’ve got allows us to add multiple buyouts, if they come. We’re actively looking at that. Nothing to announce yet, but we’re active looking at several players right now.”
Morey also spoke to whether there was any consideration to addressing the backup five position at the deadline:
“Look, we looked at all our needs and tried to look for upgrades wherever we could. We made the move that we thought was the best available. We looked at everything. This [trading for McDaniels] was the best move.”
In addition, he offered his assessment of where the Sixers are at in regard to backup center:
“I think we have a lot of versatility with the lineup. Doc does a very good job figuring it out. Just to be fair, I think what most people worry about is when Joel is off (the court). How are we going to play when Joel is off? I think we’re going to improve that. That hasn’t been as good as we want it to be.”
Of course, even if you disagree with Daryl’s assessment, it’s one thing to say he needed to do something, and another to come up with a realistic solution given the assets he had at his disposal. The team did not have a lot of draft capital available, and not much in terms of workable contracts or players that might intrigue teams that weren’t already vital parts of the Sixers’ present. Thybulle was probably their only trade chip in that regard, and Morey used that chip to make what he felt was an upgrade at another position, while also netting one additional second-round pick as part of the deal. Morey gave this response when asked if this was one of his more difficult/challenging deadlines:
“Yeah, I think Dave [Sholler, Sixers Chief Communications Officer] saw the stress level with not a lot of sleep over multiple days. (Laughs.) Yeah, it did make it more challenging, but look, that’s our job. It’s challenging to win a championship, it’s challenging for guys to make a close-out — everyone has their role. I think Doc’s had a great theme this year of everyone being a star in their roles, and we felt like that was our job — to find something that could upgrade the team. And we haven’t stopped; we’re going to look at buyouts as well. But look, it’s challenging every year because no one’s trying to help the Sixers when you’re calling them. (Laughs.) But we feel like we made a significant upgrade.”
Ultimately, while I understand the disappointment of the status quo remaining for the backup big situation, it’s fair to let things play out a bit before judging this trade deadline. Does McDaniels provide a measurable upgrade to Thybulle that makes a difference come the postseason? Will the team make another move via the buyout market to allay those frontcourt worries? We’ll see. Right now, Morey thinks the team is in a good place:
“I think we’ve put ourselves in position to win the title. That’s what you want to do when you get to this point. I think we’ve made an upgrade, we’re hoping to continue to make some upgrades, and we want to be playing our best basketball going into the playoffs. We have a very tough stretch in March and I think that stretch should help us get — to the question earlier — sort of battle-hardened as we go into the playoffs.”
So while you can assign a grade for February’s trade deadline, it’s late April, May, and (hopefully) June that will serve as the final exam.