Philadelphia 76ers fans had hopes coming into today’s 2024 NBA Trade Deadline. Not high hopes (you were the greatest, Harry K), what with Joel Embiid’s return date unknown and no game-changing talent reportedly available on the market, but hopes nonetheless. Add some shooting, a big man to help in Embiid’s absence, and someone to reduce the ball handling burden on Tyrese Maxey. Not too much to ask.
Things started off well, in my opinion. The Sixers traded Marcus Morris Sr., Furkan Korkmaz, three second-round picks and cash to Indiana for Buddy Hield. Hield is a guy who has been an “almost Sixer” seemingly forever and is an ideal fit for what the Sixers need. Philadelphia has been shooting a comically low number of three-point attempts and Buddy is a career 40.1 percent three-point shooter who fires away at a high volume. Perfect! Korkmaz even finally got his trade request fulfilled and gets to hang out at coffee shops around Indianapolis with old friend T.J. McConnell. Three second-rounders, including this year’s from Toronto, are a lot, but the Sixers are all in. They must feel good about Embiid coming back healthy for the playoffs. Great!
Then, things got a little shakier, but you still saw the plan when Danuel House Jr. and this year’s Knicks second-rounder went to Detroit in a clear tax-ducking move. Now, no one cares about Josh Harris having private jet gas money less than me, but there are structural advantages to being under the tax. You don’t have any apron restrictions, you have access to the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, and the repeater tax won’t kick in until at least 2028-29. That Knicks pick likely won’t amount to anything, and the “this extra space will allow for the Sixers to sign Kyle Lowry after a buyout” rumors kicked into overdrive. Everything is still basically on course.
However, we were hit with a major plot twist when Patrick Beverley was sent to Milwaukee for Cam Payne and a second-round pick. Huh? This is something the Sixers might have done if they were in tanking mode, but they just sent out three second-rounders in the Hield deal so I’m perplexed. Beverley quickly ingratiated himself as a fan favorite and a strong locker room presence with the team. He’s one of the few guys with passing chops on the roster and a two-way contributor who you would feel comfortable turning to in a postseason game. Even if Lowry is coming on board, which would conceivably push Pat Bev out of the rotation, wouldn’t you like to have Beverley around as insurance? Kyle is turning 38 years old in March, after all, and who knows what’s going on with De’Anthony Melton’s back. I just don’t understand moving a guy who was legitimately a positive for the team on the court this season and brought sooooo much to the table in the vibes category.
Suddenly, the trade deadline mood was very bad, but it sank even lower when we were hit with the bombshell news that Jaden Springer was heading to Boston for the more favorable of Chicago’s and New Orleans’ 2024 second-round picks. If many Sixers fans were confused by the Beverley news, they were catatonic about the Springer announcement. Springer? The 21-year-old making relative peanuts who recently had a terrific defensive performance against Luka Doncic and then held Steph Curry without a field goal for an entire half? Yeah, he hasn’t figured his jump shot out, but I sure bet the Celtics will find a way to make it work. I’m already breaking into hives thinking about having to watch Springer clamp down on Maxey at least four times a year for the next half decade.
Now, we’re going to hear about the great 2024 Cap Space Plan and someone already floated to Chris Haynes that the Sixers will be targeting Paul George. But we know that’s extremely unlikely to happen and the 2024 free agent market is pretty bare as it is. And if Jaden Springer and his $4 million contract next season is keeping you from signing Paul George or someone comparable in the summer, you find a way to deal him then, preferably to a team that isn’t your most hated rival. This Springer move simply didn’t need to happen.
Ultimately, the Sixers tried to go in both directions at once and ended up falling into a confused mess in the middle. If you are planning for the future, you don’t make the Hield deal. If you are still keeping hope alive for this season, you don’t trade Patrick Beverley. If you want to make any sense at all, you don’t trade one of your few young guys with huge upside potential to your biggest rival for a second-round pick not much better than the one you just gave away to duck the luxury tax.
Coming into today, it would have been hard to imagine Sixers fans feeling worse about the state of the team than they already did in the wake of the Embiid injury and this recent 1-7 stretch. Against the odds, though, Daryl Morey and the front office found a way.