There has been a flurry of rumors and reports recently around the NBA. Maybe I’m wearing a pair of Sixers’ goggles limiting me to a parochial scope, but it seems somehow or another, the Philadelphia 76ers (because of their newfound draft picks via the James Harden-Los Angeles Clippers trade, because of Daryl Morey’s long-established desire to chase star talent, and because of the impetus to never waste a year of Joel Embiid’s prime) are connected to oh so many of the top names on the market today.
Let’s dive into a roundup.
Are the Sixers in no rush to make a major shakeup?
Earlier this season, Joel Embiid hopped on the Tyrese Maxey “Maxey on the Mic” pod and said the word “continuity” quite a bit, bemoaning the fact that his franchise, well, never seems to have much given all the roster churn in the past.
It’s actually a consistent theme for the big fella this season on more than a few occasions as well.
Might Morey simply say, “let’s finally see how things play out and go big next summer when we’ll have max space and up to five first-rounders to play with”?
Here’s what Yahoo! Sports top NBA insider Jake Fischer had to add recently:
“Philadelphia is not in any rush to add a piece or burn any of the Sixers’ newfound draft capital by way of the Harden trade, sources said. Philly has been conducting due diligence on various point guards available for the trade market — although Tyus Jones doesn’t seem to be a target to keep in mind for the Sixers, sources said. If the Hawks don’t operate with urgency to find a deal, perhaps a trade could come to fruition for Murray closer to the deadline. That being said, there’s little expectation among league figures that the Sixers will pursue [Pascal] Siakam or [Zach] LaVine during this trade window. 4 hours ago – via Jake Fischer @ Yahoo! Sports
And ESPN’s Senior Insider Adrian Wojnarowski hopped on Threads to dish some of the same music as Fischer:
Here’s what Woj had to add:
“Daryl Morey is ALWAYS big game hunting, but... I think it’s more likely some upgrades ond the margins. Philly is in great position in the offseason to make some more dramatic upgrades, because of their impending salary cap space, some valuable draft picks, and a lineup with Embiid and Maxey that good players would certainly love to join.”
Now maybe those reports are fair. And it’s certainly a reasonable position for the team to take. If the team made the wrong move and limited their cap space, while simultaneously depleting their pick capital (for example trading for Chicago’s supermax guard Zach LaVine) it’s possible that a playoff flameout, without much room to improve, could cause Embiid to develop a wandering eye. Woj has said Leon Rose and the Knicks may target a top name who suffers a disappointing playoff fate, and you know Joel has that CAA connection to his former agent, the current Prez of the Knicks. Rose was even at Jo’s wedding.
If Jo did ask for a trade come June, would Tyrese Maxey feel any differently signing a possible max contract extension in Philly next summer with the team’s future potentially uncertain? There’s so many factors for Morey, Elton Brand and Nick Nurse to consider.
But there are also updates about some specific teams that might offer the chance to sign a top dog OR target those role players “on the margins” as Woj puts it.
Warriors trekking cross country to join ’em?
One team that’s been rumored to consider major change is the Golden State Warriors. The latest according to The Athletic and FanDuel’s Shams Charania:
On a recent “Out of Site” pod, Adio Royster and I discussed multiple players like Draymond Green (oh yes, we did), Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson. But the Dubs also have potentially interesting names like Gary Payton Jr., Kevon Looney, Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga and others who might standout on Morey’s private stat models.
Will Hawks be flying north this winter?
With the news that Clippers’ superstar Kawhi Leonard has signed a contract extension, it likely gives one top free agent, Paul George, more reason to stick around L.A. (where he’s from) long-term. It’s probably good news for James Harden as well, but we won’t go there, lol.
PG (repped by CAA, which causes Knicks fans to drool too) may believe he’s worthy of a four-to-five year max and want to test the FA waters. I certainly wouldn’t blame him for turning down an extension like this one, hoping for much more:
ESPN Sources: Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has signed a three-year, $153 million contract extension.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 10, 2024
And if that’s the case, more and more top names potentially being unavailable to the Sixers, could tempt the Sixers to try to “go for it” or even “thread the needle” somehow. Our Bryan Toporek did a great job analyzing the magnitude that Kawhi extension could have here in Philadelphia.
And that’s where a team like Atlanta might come in. On the same Threads Q&A, here’s what Woj had to say about that developing situation involving (stud but not quite star) combo guard Dejounte Murray:
With a potential Hawks’ fire sale in mind, our Harrison Grimm took a real close look at Hawks’ sniper Bogdan Bogdanović (who once blew us Sixers’ fans a playoff kiss of death in Philly).
Could Morey be tempted to spend precious future cap space on a Murray-Bogdanović duo? They might just have enough trade value to be moved elsewhere in a pinch come summer if the Sixers desperately needed max cap space for a bigger (PG) fish, no?
Let’s turn to our resident LB cap wiz Bryan and friend of LB Francis to tweet us through some more related Hawks themes:
I’d imagine there will be some financially motivated trades in the next 6 months that don’t make much sense from an on-court perspective and will infuriate the respective fanbases.— Bryan Toporek (@btoporek) January 12, 2024
ATL, MEM and MIN are the front-runners in that regard, imo https://t.co/mzhiWOHoWv
"At this juncture, to varying degrees, the Lakers, Knicks, Sixers, Heat and Pistons are five suitors expected to engage Atlanta about acquiring Murray over the coming days and weeks before Feb. 8," per @JakeLFischer https://t.co/si6WbTOiYe— Bryan Toporek (@btoporek) January 11, 2024
Raptors escape Canadian borders and head to Philly?!
According to Josh Lewenberg, reporting for TSN last week:
“How close was Siakam to getting traded over the summer? It depends who you ask, but there was clearly some very real interest from multiple teams – most notably Atlanta and Indiana – and some very real consideration from the Raptors. Those teams remain in the mix and several others have shown interest, to varying degrees – Sacramento, Dallas, Memphis and Detroit among them. Philadelphia and Golden State could come calling, if they haven’t already, and they just might be interesting enough to push for Siakam’s approval.”
Now Marc Stein via substack has previously poured a bit of cold water on the idea the Sixers could pursue the two-time All-Star Siakam:
“Philadelphia is routinely tossed out there as a likely trade bidder for Chicago’s Zach LaVine or Toronto’s Pascal Siakam, but a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking told me again this week that the Sixers should not be expected to pursue either player between now and Feb. 8.”
But ESPN’s Zach Lowe finds the Siakam-Embiid-Maxey idea at least a bit intriguing, it seems:
And for what it’s worth Jake Fischer did not sound quite as confident as Stein’s sources sound that the Sixers won’t mull over the possibility of onboarding Nick Nurse’s former All-NBA stud in Spicy P — who would represent a flight risk if acquired, given his expiring contract situation, and might well command a max if retained.
“Both Indiana and Detroit will have serious room to play with this summer. So will Philadelphia, with Siakam’s former Raptors head coach, Nick Nurse, manning the bench, and that has league personnel pinning the Sixers as another potential free-agency bogeyman to scare off Siakam trade-deadline bids.”
Post-publish edit: now this:
Honestly, there’s so so so much Sixers slop lately that I’m overwhelmed consuming it all. I barely scratched the surface of this iceberg. But it should hopefully get you through a tough portion of the Sixers’ schedule when Joel Embiid is banged up, to allow your minds to spin with possibility.
The Harden trade currently looks like a clear “win-win.” I think both teams would make the same swap again today. And because of that, Nurse can run the offense with far more motion than he would have been able to with a mopey or holding out Harden.
And better still, fans can dream of making a splash trade either at this upcoming 2024 NBA Trade Deadline or perhaps the 2024 NBA Draft, then hang on to the upcoming free agency period with bated breath.