The 2024 NBA Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away and the question on most Sixers fan's minds is what if any deal Daryl Morey, Elton Brand and the Philadelphia front might strike ahead of Feb. 8.
With Joel Embiid playing at an absolutely historic clip, how comfortable could this team feel preserving assets and/or cap space for a big summer splash? Do they not owe it to Joel to go all in when he’s been so dominant, many of us are asking on X. Or would using assets (the way the Miami Heat just did when they acquired Terry Rozier) deplete their resources to target a bigger fish come summer?
We’ll begin our rumor roundup with former Liberty Baller turned Yahoo Sports Senior NBA Insider Jake Fischer. On Friday Fischer provided a ton of intel for us to think about, and I was honestly surprised at how much pertained directly to the Sixers:
“At least a first-round pick” has thus been described as the necessary compensation for the Washington Wizards to part with table-setter Tyus Jones, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The same goes for Portland to move on from guard Malcolm Brogdon and Toronto with recently acquired Bruce Brown Jr....The Hawks, sources said, are searching for two first-round picks and a starting-caliber player to part with Dejounte Murray, considered the premium lead guard option on the trade block.”
We have heard Jones linked to the Sixers on occasion, but none of those rumors seemed to have picked up any steam as Patrick Beverley has performed well backing up Tyrese Maxey. But it’s notable that players of this certain archetype are all potentially going for a similar rate, with the exception of Atlanta’s Dejounte Murray.
“[Kyle] Lowry being dealt to Charlotte adds another name to the field of backcourt players available. He’s a potential re-trade candidate for the Hornets, sources said, but also as a potential player on the buyout market, should Charlotte not find a deal for the veteran floor general. At that point, one destination that currently appears to be a real possibility: Philadelphia, where the Sixers stand as one of the few contenders below the first luxury tax apron and capable of signing a player who was bought out from a contract pricier than this year’s mid-level exception ($12.4 million.) Lowry is not expected to join the Hornets prior to the trade deadline, league sources told Yahoo Sports, and will likely remain away from the franchise while the future of the respected 18-year veteran gets resolved.”
It seems almost impossible that the Sixers would look to trade for the 37-year-old 2019 NBA champion since they’d have to nearly match his $29.6M salary. But if the Philadelphia native, who won a chip playing for Nick Nurse, did have his choice on a buyout market? Well, there are all kinds of synergies in place right here.
Lowry’s veteran’s minimum contract would be around $1M. There are teams out there with access to the Bi-Annual Exception, as SNY’s Ian Begley points out, pertaining to the New York Knicks:
Ian Begley: "…Kyle Lowry, potential buyout candidate…We know Tom Thibodeau is a big Kyle Lowry fan…Knicks…will have their bi-annual exception…they could outbid some teams if you get to the buyout market & you're looking at Lowry or other players…"— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) January 24, 2024
More Begley updates ⬇️ https://t.co/ajK0ApeEn2
The Bi-Annual exception is $4.5M, so teams like the Knicks could top offers from squads only doling out veteran’s minimum salaries.
But the Sixers do have their full taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.0M). They just cannot go over the first apron if they use it on Lowry since he was previously (in the case of buyout) earning more than the non-taxpayer MLE.
These roster exceptions can get complicated and make some fans roll their eyes but if Lowry wanted to play for his hometown and former coach, you could certainly talk yourself into that. Lowry was at times instrumental in helping the Miami Heat on last year’s NBA Finals run and shot 42.3 percent vs. Denver in the big dance.
“New York, Milwaukee and Philadelphia have all been mentioned by league personnel as interested in finding point guard reinforcements. Those teams seem to be the main clubs involved in evaluating players at the upper echelon of the position, now that Miami has acquired Rozier.
The Lakers appear to have made the most aggressive known bid to date for [Dejounte] Murray. Los Angeles has been willing to include a 2029 first-round pick plus a pick swap in its attempts to land the Hawks guard, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Atlanta is searching for a better player return than Russell, sources said, and the Hawks seem to prefer not taking back future salary, leaving the possibility for another three-team deal at the deadline that includes Russell....
The Sixers are prioritizing fit alongside Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey with any potential deadline addition, sources said, and don’t seem to covet [Bruce] Brown, a career 33.8% shooter from deep, as the optimal missing piece. Philadelphia has continued seeing a strong return from Patrick Beverley, leaving the Sixers with a clear barometer for any newcomers at this deadline. The Sixers will have to ask themselves if Murray is really that perfect pairing with Maxey in the backcourt, considering his long-term salary and Philadelphia’s current projected cap space for this upcoming summer.”
So we can take from this that the Sixers have been thinking about the backup guard spot but that the price point among typically mentioned names seems to be a bit high given the way Patrick Beverley has played, and given their need for shooting and space around their Joel Embiid-Tyrese Maxey core.
Extrapolating a bit from this Brown intel, perhaps a player like Chicago’s Alex Caruso, as talented as he is, might not meet the Sixers’ requisite cost-to-shooting ratio either.
Next we’ll turn to ESPN’s Senior Writer Zach Lowe for the next bit of intel.
Lowe, in a post titled “Joel Embiid and the greatest scoring season in NBA history,” began not by providing trade gossip but by merely gushing over Joel’s recent ascension:
“....But when Philadelphia fired Rivers, Embiid expressed a desire for the offense to become more unpredictable — more random.
Nick Nurse, Philly’s new coach, is the right tinkerer for that task....Embiid is halfway through what might be the greatest scoring season — by some measures — in basketball history....
Embiid has almost become an amalgam of Dirk Nowitzki, Hakeem Olajuwon… and Shaquille O’Neal — elite jump-shooting, balletic footwork, the raw power to foul out your entire front line. The answers to him are dwindling....”
The dude dropped 70 the other night and well, thank you Zach, this had to be said.
Now for the trade slop from Lowe:
“The Sixers are light on ballhandling beyond Maxey and Embiid, and have three first-round picks to trade ahead of this deadline. They are also sitting on max cap space for this summer, well aware Paul George has not yet signed an extension with the Clippers....
The Sixers could have their cake and eat it too by acquiring one or two good rotation players on either smaller salaries or expiring deals — upgrading their current team without compromising cap space. If that proves the best option — something like the theoretical combination of Bruce Brown and DeMar DeRozan both potential rentals — then so be it....
If the decision becomes more either-or — now or later — the Sixers need to lean toward prioritizing this magical Embiid season.”
Ahhh, the old needle-thread idea! Bolster the roster using the picks, but don’t take on any long-term salaried upgrades which could cost the team a shot at a Paul George.
Many have speculated that PG would sign an extension with L.A. following Kawhi Leonard’s recent extension, but that hasn’t happened yet. It still could. But it also seems reasonable that PG might prefer to wait and test free agency when he could command a five-year max.
So plenty of stuff to chew on for now. I can’t imagine how many coffees, teas, energy drinks, and takeout orders Morey and Brand have been chugging and scarfing lately watching film and making calls.