The Sixers have rattled off 21 their last 25 games. And oddsmakers have certainly noticed. Their title odds have shortened (in a good way) dramatically over their recent heater.
Back on Jan. 11, Joel Embiid, James Harden and co. were still +1800 to win the title on DraftKings, possessing a 25-15 record. By Jan. 18, after three consecutive road wins vs. the Jazz, Lakers and Clippers, they’d clawed their way up to +1600.
Today, they’ve won five of their last six, including a huge 47-point performance by Joel Embiid over Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, changing the MVP conversation entirely.
After that game your hometown 76ers rocketed up to +1100 on DK. And the vibes are just right.
That +1100 translates to roughly a 7.5 percent chance to win the title. And you remember what Daryl Morey once told ESPN’s Zach Lowe, right? About his five percent rule....
Per Morey back in winter of 2020:
“....I don’t understand the teams that hang onto their picks when they’re close like this....You should when you’re close and for us [Houston] that’s above 5 percent chance to win the title, which we’re comfortably over right now....I think it makes sense to go to the max when you have a chance....”
Morey also said he believes this year is the most important year of this team’s run.
So with the team’s odds on a major upswing, and given how aggressive Morey likes to play it when he has a real chance, what can we expect this deadline?
Let’s break down the team’s players into tiers of how likely they are to be traded based on reports, rumors, and gut feel, then eye some players they might target.
Likelihood to be retained: we’ll always have that game winner in Portland?
Smart folks like Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, Marc Stein via his Substack Newsletter and others have noted that the Sixers might part with Furkan Korkmaz and Jaden Springer, in part because they’d like to reset the luxury tax penalty.
This breakdown by our Bryan Toporek helps put things into perspective:
“If they were $30 million over the tax line, the non-repeater tax bill would be $85 million, while the repeater tax bill would be $115 million. In the unlikely event that they were willing to go $40 million over the tax line, the non-repeater bill would be $140 million, while the repeater bill would be an unprecedented $175 million.”
If Korkmaz or Springer become sacrificial lambs here to avoid that type of exponentially increasing fee and help keep guys who are truly part of the plan (e.g. Tyrese Maxey, James Harden) then it might be worth it, in the end. But dumping former first round picks before their 21st birthday just gives me Knicks vibes for some reason.
Kyle Neubeck recently reported that he thinks Danuel House Jr. is also in this red-alert tier. In my opinion, perhaps he’d fall one peg below Korkmaz and Springer within the tier since he was a newly signed free agent, is a friend of Harden’s, and is apparently fire on the aux.
But because his salary ($4.1M) pairs well with multiple Sixers, getting them into the vicinity to bring back a player in the $7-10M range, it seems there’s a decent chance D-House will be packing his bags too.
If you wanted to argue that Montrezl Harrell belongs in this tier, because they may look to replace him, I’ll listen but I’m not quite there yet myself.
Likelihood to be retained: flip a coin and call it in the air?
After Korkmaz, Springer, and House Jr., I think the next most logical name who might have a new home is two time All-Defensive Second Teamer Matisse Thybulle.
Derek Bodner of The Daily Six noted in late December that Thybulle figures to be the next most likely Sixer to be moved after only Korkmaz. Marc Stein and Keith Pompey have connected Mr. Stocks to the Sacramento Kings. Pompey also added that the Golden State Warriors recently inquired about the Washington product.
Neubeck of PhillyVoice says a “small-handful” of teams have been sniffing around.
Source: There is a market for Matisse Thybulle. Multiple playoff teams that need defensive help have inquired. The Sixers are open to moving him.— Jason Dumas (@JDumasReports) February 1, 2023
If the 76ers do not find a deal they like this week, they could match any offer Thybulle gets next summer, and assuming no rival team breaks the bank, Morey might feel comfortable matching what may well become a team-friendly deal.
Unlike our names above (and at least one Sixer who plays more than Thybulle) Matisse helps the team win the regular season minutes he’s on the floor, provided he plays in some semi-reasonable lineups.
Thybulle will also be in significantly higher demand than our prior tier. Defense-starved contenders possessing faith in their shooting coach will definitely be calling.
But if Philadelphia opts to keep him they risk some cap-space team offering the 25-year-old a big number come July. If Morey refused to match it, they’d likely wind up kicking themselves for not striking a deal back in February.
If they can extend Thybulle by summer’s end, they may net more trade value one year from now than he has today too. I find myself leaning towards “yes” he’s traded. But I’d ballpark the odds more conservatively around 46 percent.
Likelihood to be retained: pack a bag but don’t list your home just yet
Neubeck recently postulated that the team doesn’t trust Georges Niang’s defense in high-leverage moments. As for Shake Milton, Neubeck labels him an “under-the-radar” trade candidate. Paul Reed’s name does not come up as much, but I think we could plop him into this group with the team said to be eyeing two-way players and backup fives at deadline.
If we decided there was an 80 percent chance each individual dude in this group gets to stick around, that would leave us with a ~49 percent chance at least one is a goner. Gulp.
What would be the hardest to witness thriving on a rival team: a runaway Minivan, a Milk Shake, or a Muddy Victory Tour?
If they wanted to acquire a higher-end talent, they could tack Shake or Niang on top of Thybulle, and/or kick in the Charlotte Hornets’ second-round pick they possess (projected to be 34th overall, nearly a first round value, as of today) to make a bigger offer.
I don’t expect that, but it wouldn’t be stunning either.
Likelihood to be retained: get the money in
Tobias Harris makes the most money on the team ($37.6M) and it’s pretty awkward. His contract stinks but he’s quite good. We don’t expect to see him traded. I ball-parked the odds Harris gets dealt around 5 percent on a recent pod. Our Sean Kennedy said zero chance. Split the difference and call it 2.5 percent if you like. Trez could probably be in one of the tiers above as noted, especially if they’re trying to upgrade backup five, but you know how Doc feels about Trez. Sometimes I think Doc must see shades of a young Kevin Garnett in Harrell the way he leans on him when Embiid sits.
Likelihood to be retained: and what, abandon all the dogs!? Not happening.
As Clay Davis might say in The Wire, “I’ll take any m—————s money if he givin’ it away.” And I think that’s basically where we’re at with P.J. Tucker and De’Anthony Melton. If some team makes an absurd offer, giving away a free stud, the 76ers would reluctantly part ways with these guys. But you’d probably be talking some Sam Hinkie levels of fleecing to get Morey to offer them; even if you haven’t fallen in love with Tucker just yet.
Likelihood to be retained: Maxey-mum confidence
If Tyrese Maxey gets traded it’s probably along with Tobias Harris in a blockbuster for a true top-tier All-Star. Yeah, I don’t see it. But we can’t completely rule it out. Neubeck recently said he thinks only Harden and Embiid are truly untouchable. Morey has offered Maxey up before. But they’d have to be thinking about a talent at least as high-caliber as Toronto’s OG Anunoby to part with ‘Rese Lightning.
‘Rese Lightning— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) January 31, 2023
Likelihood to be retained: Harden Meme Face
Dude didn’t take a $13M pay cut only to have the Team President who once said Harden changed his entire life give him the axe. The only way Harden is getting traded here is if he insinuates he’ll soon be leaving them like he did in Brooklyn, or drops some unexpected pay-me-a-five-year-max-salary-or-I’m-out-by-July ultimatum on their butts, thereby forcing their hand.
Nah, I don’t think Beard is pushing that button. It would really ding his legacy, likely diminish his title odds significantly, and might even cost him money if Morey is already prepared to be his highest bidder by summer.
Likelihood to be retained: put it this way, if Joel Embiid was more popular, he might literally be targeting his third consecutive MVP award, so you do the math
Lol. The Process isn’t finished here, don’t bother.
Names to keep an eye on
Just a handful of names we’re thinking about or have heard pop up in rumors, both on the higher and lower ends of the salary spectrum.
For wing help:
- Rockets: Eric Gordon ($19.5M)
- Spurs: Doug McDermott ($13.75)
- Magic: Gary Harris ($13m)
- Clippers: Robert Covington ($12.3M)
- Blazers: Josh Hart ($12.9M)
- Suns: Jae Crowder ($10.1M)
- Bulls: Alex Caruso ($9M)
- Hornets: Cody Martin ($7M)
- Knicks: Cam Reddish ($5.9M)
- Clippers: Amir Coffey (3.3M)
- Pistons: Saddiq Bey ($2.9M)
And for big men you could take a look at names like:
- Jazz: Kelly Olynyk ($12.8)
- Pistons: Nerlens Noel ($9.2M)
- Jazz: Jarred Vanderbilt ($4.3)
- Bulls: Andre Drummond ($3.2M)
- Bulls: Tony Bradley ($2M)
- Timberwolves: Naz Reid ($1.9M)
Plus a couple more provided by our Paul Hudrick too.
Several have noted they’ll be keeping their eyes on the buyout market for help as well. Orlando’s Terrence Ross has been named as a buyout candidate. I occasionally burn sage hoping that Houston’s Eric Gordon hits the buyout market then quickly hits up South St. with Harden and Tucker.
Magic 8 ball
- In the end, I expect the Sixers to thread the needle and “upgrade” backup wing and backup big man, while also resetting the luxury tax.
- I’ll just come right out and say it: I think Korkmaz and Springer are goners.
- I think one of Paul Reed or Trez is a goner.
Morey said before the season that “Montrezl Harrell is here ‘cause of Doc Rivers.”
Morey may have to play some Billy Beane of the NBA and “trade Pena on Art Howe.” Because Doc is never ever going to quit his non-stretch, non-switch big if he has one on the roster.
- I think they do trade away their Hornets’ second-round pick. It’ll sting (get it?) on draft day to have no picks at all — recall their own 2023 first is in Utah by way of Brooklyn. But they must squeeze themselves into that Nets (+600) and Bucks (+800) tier, even if they can’t catch the Celtics (+370) on DraftKings.
Parting with their only decent draft asset for many years isn’t ideal, but the Embiid-Harden duo’s best shot may well be this current season. What are you gonna do, not try to bring in more help?
- House Jr. is right on that fence and they’d probably be better off moving him as much as it would hurt to take the L from their offseason acquisition so quickly. The optics would be extra bad since they got slapped with a tampering penalty too. But nobody would dwell on that if they improved.
- I think at least one of House, Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, or Georges Niang gets moved and it might even be two of the four. (If we just guessed and said there’s a 44 percent chance House goes, a 44 percent chance Thybulle goes, a 12.5 percent chance Niang goes and a 12.5 percent chance Shake goes, that amounts to more than a 75 percent chance at least one is sent packing. Remove House from the equation and there’s still — using my tinfoil-hat-cooked hypothetical odds — a 58 percent chance one of Minivan, Shake, or Matisse is oughta here.) So I’m prepared for change.
All in all, I expect nothing earth shattering this go round. But I’m factoring in the unlikely combined chances they either A) surprise us and do something earth shattering (moving Tobias or Maxey would suffice) or B) disappoint us and do nothing at all except maybe dump one player to skirt the tax. Boo.
Let’s check back on how this looks in a week and laugh at my probably pathetic prognosticating. Hopefully they can get those DraftKings odds into the single digits.
I’m hoping for +750 by the end of the deadline. They need to at least pass Giannis and those dang Bucks in the standings and title odds. Bundling a couple less-talented guys and a pick for Portland’s Josh Hart and Utah’s Jarred Vanderbilt just might do the trick.
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