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The 2024 NBA Trade Deadline is now less than two weeks away. That means Daryl Morey and the rest of the Philadelphia front office and coaching staff will have to do extensive homework trying to suss out what the team’s most important needs are by the afternoon of Feb. 8.
We’re just past the midway point in the regular season, and that means it’s time for Joel Embiid and the gang to begin preparing for the postseason, as Anthony Gilbert explained.
Playmaker is a pretty broad term in the NBA. There is the microwave-scoring type like Terry Rozier, who the Miami Heat just plucked away from the Charlotte Hornets.
But on the other end of the “playmaking” spectrum might include a name like Chicago Bulls’ guard pitbull, Alex Caruso.
Caruso isn’t a sniper from deep, as an average career three-point shooter at best, but the former Lakers’ champ is usually right in the center of the conversation for our annual NBA All-Defensive Teams. On top of that, Caruso, who might be available (but it sounds like Chicago’s asking price is still sky-high) is a deft passer, and skilled ball-handler. He’s no marksman, but he just finds ways to make winning plays on each end.
Earlier this season Daryl Morey talked about hoping to find two-way talents. And Caruso might just fit that bill.
On the much higher end of the salary spectrum, I think it’s fair to call Chicago’s Zach LaVine a “playmaker” as well. The two-time All-Star talent is on a supermax contract, so matching salaries for LaVine, who shares Drew Hanlen as a trainer along with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, wouldn’t be simple.
But when healthy, the former Timberwolves guard (once traded for Jimmy Butler) is a dynamic scorer and can drain triples off the dribble or catch.
We’ve also heard names like Washington’s Tyus Jones bandied about the blogosphere but the solid backup play from Philly’s Patrick Beverley may cause Morey and co. to feel they have that Tyrese Maxey backup role covered for now.
I’m not sure there is a team in the NBA who wouldn’t love another three-and-D wing (or four). As noted, Morey wants players who can help on both ends of the floor, because he thinks one-way players (e.g. Matisse Thybulle in the past provided defense only) tend to struggle more come playoff time.
But who is out there?
Our Bryan Toporek made a very compelling case that the Sixers should stay away from a player with a talent-to-salary ratio like Zach LaVine’s because of the new CBA’s punitive measures for franchises dishing out three max deals. In that same piece, Toporek argued that a player like Brooklyn Nets’ Mikal Bridges, on the other hand, would represent the ideal target; even if the Nets don’t want to make the Villanova stud available. Boo.
But what about a name like Brooklyn’s Dorian Finney-Smith or Royce O’Neal? Heck, I suppose we could even lump Caruso in this category as well if we wanted. I’ve been a fan of Knicks guard/wing Quentin Grimes. And if the price were right there, perhaps Nick Nurse could find a way to get more out of the talented stopper than Tom Thibodeau has to date.
Of course, many of us were hoping the Sixers could have landed current Knicks’ forward OG Anunoby before he was dealt by Toronto. But these are at least the types of players the Sixers might be able to really benefit from; especially as names like De’Anthony Melton and Robert Covington battle injury.
Ahhh, the backup big spot. The age-old conundrum in Embiid’s career. From Amir Johnson to Greg Monroe to DeAndre Jordan....it’s been a fun ride!
Has Paul Reed earned enough of Nurse’s trust to hold down the gig? Can Mo Bamba reliably spell Reed on nights Embiid may be nursing an injury? Or do they need reinforcements here?
Our Josh Grieb has been keeping tabs on this question/issue all season long: do the Sixers have enough depth at backup five?
Morey, of course, may prefer to look toward the buyout market for reserve bigs we wouldn’t expect to play much by the second round of the playoffs, however.
What else do the Sixers need to help Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and co. win a title this year?
Remember, if they don’t use all of their current assets, they can have as many as five first-round picks to offer up come 2024 NBA Draft day. So any move they make along the margins this winter might detract from what they can do (in terms of picks and salary cap space) come the offseason.
There are no easy answers. Vote here for the team’s biggest need as the deadline approaches.