Andrew Unterberger is a famous writer who invented the nickname 'Sauce Castillo' and is now writing for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez, as part of the 'If Not, Pick Will Convey As Two Second-Rounders' section of the site. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AUGetoffmygold and can also read him at Billboard.
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The precedent was set late last season, when Ersan Ilyasova was signed to become a Philadelphia 76er for the eighth time in the last three seasons in time for the Sixers stretch run, and then confirmed in the offseason with the hire of the first On the Shirt GM in Process history. The No New Friends Sixers may be dead, but the Yes Old Friends Sixers are alive and well.
Spike predicted before the season that two former Sixers would be acquired by the Sixers before the end of the season, and since it’s already 2019, I don’t think it’d be an exaggeration to call it an upset that we haven’t even gotten one yet. But Dec. 15 has long passed, buyout season and the trade deadline both approach, and the Sixers had to beat the Suns last night with Ben from Kinetic getting most of the backup minutes on the wing. It’s time to go shopping for second-hand Sixers, and we’ve got the list right here.
Now, we’re going to be somewhat realistic here: Nice as it would be to have Andre Iguodala spelling Jimmy and/or JJ for 22 minutes a night, the Warriors aren’t giving him up at this point, nor are the Timberwolves likely to return us Dario or Cov, or the Pelicans to let us get Jahlil Okafor back. (Just kidding, the Pelicans would probably give us Okafor for a future sixth, but we don’t need Joel Embiid injuring himself repeatedly dunking Jah through the rim during practice.) These are all guys we could reasonably use, could reasonably afford, and could reasonably get.
Well, mostly reasonably anyway. Let’s catch ‘em all first and worry about the practicality later.
10. Nick Young (Free Agent, most recently with Denver Nuggets)
This might be a gag No. 10, but I also might be totally serious. I liked Nick Young during his brief run as a Sixer! He was a solid wing defender, could mostly hit open shots, and occasionally could generate non-embarrassing half-court offense. That was the better part of a decade ago, and he’s hardly aged into veteranhood gracefully, but he did win a championship with the Warriors last year, and I can think of worse dudes to sop up some emergency minutes on the wing. At the very least, it’d be a refreshing change of pace to have a player whose Cocky Motherfuckerness actually extends to his willingness to shoot the ball.
9. Michael Carter-Williams (Houston Rockets)
But hey, speaking of If Only They Could Shoot greats in Sixers history, how about a Michael Carter-Williams reunion? He’s basically fallen out of the Rockets’ rotation, and while he doesn’t exactly solve all of the Sixers’ bench problems on the perimeter, there are certain matchups where we could use his size on the defensive end -- like, say, any T.J. game where he ends up consistently getting switched onto bigger scorers he can’t do anything with. It always irritated me how MCW gets dubbed a disappointment or even a villain in Process Lore; perhaps there being an MCW Game late in the season or the playoffs would help turn around that silly narrative.
8. Jrue Holiday (New Orleans Pelicans)
All right, I know I said practical here, and Jrue’s value as a player and quasi-prohibitive contract hardly make him a simple pre-deadline pickup. Still, here’s a question for you that might be worth a couple seconds’ pondering: Would you trade Jimmy Butler for Jrue Holiday now, straight up?
Your immediate answer would probably be no, and your answer after that should maybe be no too. Butler is almost certainly the better overall player of the two. But on this team, next to Ben Simmons? And at a year younger than Butler, still under contract for the next three years, at a rate actually lower (and now two years shorter) than the max Butler would demand this summer? And considering how effective Holiday as a point-of-attack defender in last year’s playoffs, against the kind of players that have tortured Philly all season?
If Holiday was shooting better than 32% from three, it’d probably be more of a debate. Still, hard not to feel like the Process can’t ever really be over until the guy whose trade jumpstarted it all comes home to bring things full circle. See you someday, Jrue.
7. Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot (Oklahoma City Thunder)
The ex-Sixers currently on the Thunder who we could really use at this point are of course Jerami Grant and Nerlens Noel, but even with the latter’s relatively small role on their squad, they’re both probably too integral to the OKC rotation for the Sixers to likely pry them away. Timothé, on the other hand, has barely played at all, and been practically helpless while he has, having only made 13 field goals across 17 games all season.
Not that that’s even much better than he was doing in his two years in Philly, necessarily. But the Sixers are so goddamn thin on the wing that even the hint of two-way potential could be enough to get him 18 minutes a night for Brett Brown, particularly as the season gets into its dog days and suddenly nothing is as important as BODIES. TLC had one of those, if I recall, and I’d gladly take his poor-man’s-Kent-Bazemore routine for a couple months (while researching alternative options).
6. Hollis Thompson (North Arizona Suns of the G-League)
Did you know that Isaiah Canaan and Hollis Thompson were recently traded for one another, with neither team in the deal being the Sixers?? I know, seems impossible, but it landed Hollis on the Suns’ G-League affiliate squad, where he is -- you guessed it -- shooting exactly 40% from three! Time to bring ol’ 2 out of 5 back into the fold for Mike to gush about his dreamy brown eyes while Spike grouses about how he’s still never hit a triple without the Sixers already being up or down at least 20. Your podcast calls on you, Hollis.
5. Luc Mbah a Moute (Los Angeles Clippers)
Haven’t heard from Prince Luc in a minute, so there’s definitely at least a chance that during his time festering in L.A., he’s caught whatever malady tragically claimed the life of Wilson Chandler on the Nuggets bench in 2015. But assuming he makes it back to health, and the Clippers continue their slide down the West standings, it’s possible the Sixers could make some low-leverage swap or future deal to pry LMAM from the already crowded Clip Show. Joel would no doubt appreciate his mentor’s re-acquisition, and a sizeable, switchable 3-4 would still be the best Australia Day gift we could get for Brett Brown. Plus he can sorta shoot now: over 36% from three the last two seasons.
4. Shelvin Mack (Memphis Grizzlies)
After a feel-good start, the Memphis Grizzlies have predictably fallen apart: 2-8 in their last ten to drop them to 18-19 for the season, a tough ask to crawl out of in the loaded West, especially now that their bench players are getting into locker room brouhahas. It’s probably approaching the point where their more reliable role players can be asked about, and the Sixers would be justified in putting in a call for backup point guard Shelvin Mack, a Sixer for all of seven on-court minutes back in 2013. In the years since, Mack has proven to be something of an ideal bench guard, a capable creator, reliable shooter, and tough defender.
At the very least, he could serve as a T.J. motivator for Brett Brown -- every time Teej passes up or dribbles out of a wide-open three because he can’t get into his six-second wind-up in time, Brown can immediately sub in Shelvin. He shoots multiple triples a game! And it probably isn’t even a thing!
3. Dewayne Dedmon (Atlanta Hawks)
No reason why the Sixers’ recent history of poaching ex-Hawks off the buyout market shouldn’t get ⅔ of the way towards becoming an official tradition this spring. Dewayne Dedmon’s done fine for himself in Atlanta, but his veteran/mentorship work is likely done, and that team would be best served selling off its useful parts as Tank Season officially approaches. Dedmon would be the most qualified backup we’ve had for Joel in years, one who can bang down low and protect the rim a little while also not totally murdering our floor spacing. The Sixers have so many holes that this one is still only our No. 3 or No. 4 priority to plug currently, but it might be worth a second-rounder or two to get JoJo the insurance policy.
2. K.J. McDaniels (Oklahoma City Blue of the G-League)
So what the Sixers need most is an athletic wing who can defend multiple positions, handle switches and hit an open three when absolutely necessary? Damn, can’t think of a single ex-Process Sixer (and RTRS superfan) who fits that description. In a perfect world, K.J. McDaniels would be finishing up year four of his five-year / $50 million contract with the Sixers this season, but in this world, he’s available for the plucking off OKC’s G-League affiliate, where he’s currently averaging 15 and 6 on 49% shooting (an acceptable-ish 34% from three) for their first-place squad.
I mean, who would you rather have out there on the perimeter in a big game against the Celtics: K.J. or Furkan Korkmaz? Just remember that while Furkan might have been responsible for one of the greatest performances in Summer League history, he wasn’t the one of these two dudes who walked away with the Finals MVP trophy.
1. Justin Holiday (Chicago Bulls)
I do get the feeling that Jrue’s big bro might be a little better on paper than in practice at this point -- he’s shot under 40 percent the last two years, and by on-off the Bulls are worse on both sides of the ball this season with him on the court. Still, he just fits the bill of what the Sixers need (and can reasonably get) these next few months: a respectably sized, minutes-eating wing who can play competent D, hit threes at a reasonable rate (36% each of the last two years), won’t cost us much to pick up and isn’t under contract past this spring. There’ll be frustrating moments to be had in there, but in terms of guys who can just help us collapse over the finish line of this regular season (and maybe even play a small role in the playoffs), J Holiday the Senior is probably our best bet.