From JJ Redick to P.J. Tucker: Breaking Down The Sixers' Trade Targets
Who should they target?
Mike O’Connor is the best O’Connor in basketball writing. Previously of The Athletic, you can find Mike on Twitter @MOConnor_NBA.
By this point in the season, the NBA trade market is starting to take shape. The Sixers are cementing themselves as clear-cut buyers, and the market of sellers is becoming more and more clear with each passing week.
Just last week, Daryl Morey said to Stephen A. Smith that the Sixers are “championship or bust,” which should make their position in the trade market as clear as possible. We also learned last week that the Sixers are among three teams that could be a landing spot for JJ Redick.
Here in this piece, I’ll try to take stock of the Sixers’ needs, the potential trade targets, and the likelihood of acquiring each of them.
Let me start by making a gut-feel (unsourced) prediction on the Redick situation: I think this ends with Redick getting bought out and coming back to Philly.
Within the story that Shams Charania posted on The Athletic last week, the situation is described as being less about the Pelicans extracting value, but more about them granting Redick’s wish to return to the northeast to be near his family:
“Redick, whose family resides in Brooklyn, is believed to have a strong preference to return to the northeast area.”
Out of the three teams mentioned, the Celtics make far and away the most sense as a trade partner. They are under the tax, meaning they don’t have to match salary in the way that Brooklyn and Philly would in a potential trade. They also could likely give Redick the most playing time upon arrival.
But here’s the thing: Boston is a nearly four-hour drive from Brooklyn. If the nature of this trade is truly the Pelicans doing a favor to Redick to ship him back to his family, that’s quite the trek to leave him. Maybe the Pelicans will play hardball and insist on getting value back for him, but that just doesn’t sound like the nature of the situation. Besides, even if they wanted to play hardball, it’s not like they’re going to get anything more than a second round pick. This situation feels far more like a team doing a player at the very end of his career a favor and letting him choose his last stop.
Ipso facto, I think he gets bought out and eventually chooses Philly because of his familiarity with Simmons, Embiid, and Doc Rivers, as well as the fact that the Sixers have the MLE to offer him, whereas other teams only have the veteran minimum. The Sixers could, theoretically, throw together a trade package, but A) it’s not clear that a player like Redick should be their No. 1 priority, and B) they likely could play the waiting game and get him for free, anyway.
In the event that Redick is only available via trade -- let’s say, for Mike Scott, Terrance Ferguson, Vincent Porier and a second round pick -- I would likely do the deal but only if other options had been exhausted. For example, I’d much prefer to offer that same package for George Hill instead of Redick. Hill can at least survive on the floor defensively in the playoffs, and offers more ball handling and shot creation. And perhaps most importantly, Hill is two years younger and isn’t showing signs of being totally washed up, like Redick is.
If I’m Daryl Morey, though, the top name on my priority list is P.J. Tucker. Tucker would be a terrific fit here -- he gives the Sixers another elite wing defender, he’s automatic on corner 3s, and he has proven more than capable of playing small-ball center, which would give the Sixers an alternative to Dwight Howard as a backup to Embiid.
In a potential playoff matchup with Brooklyn, having Tucker to guard one of James Harden or Kevin Durant would be of immense value. With Simmons on Durant and Tucker on Harden, the Sixers could make life as difficult on those two guys as any team in the league. (Of course, that still leaves Kyrie Irving to deal with.)
Tucker is also far easier to match salary with than Redick or Hill. If the Sixers wanted to, they could offer Tony Bradley and a couple of future second rounders, and the math would check out.
While a player like Tucker would be my first priority, it’s worth noting that the Sixers certainly don’t have to choose just one of these types of players -- especially if my prediction of a Redick buyout comes true. They have all of their own draft picks for the next four years, including a few extra second round picks, and they even have a couple of young players like Matisse Thybulle or Tyrese Maxey if they wanted to get really aggressive. They could theoretically dish out a couple of second rounders for Tucker and still ship out one more for a Muscala type.
As it stands how, the Sixers bench is far from incompetent. But it’s filled with young and/or mistake prone players. Rounding it out with a player like Tucker or Hill would certainly give them an added degree of stability and trustworthiness. Adding a shooter of the likes of Redick, or a stretch big like Muscala, would also help open things up a bit more than they currently stand. Regardless of what happens, the Sixers have plenty of reason to be excited about this trade market, and they have the chance to make multiple upgrades at important positions.
Another area where I think there’s value to be had is in acquiring a true stretch five. I mentioned Mike Muscala as a potential cheap option last week (sorry again, AU). Gorgui Dieng would be awesome, but it’s unclear that he’s available, and it would be very difficult to match salary. The Sixers could also bring in some shooting bigs off the scrap heap -- Ersan Ilyasova and Dewayne Dedmon come to mind -- as potential end of bench options. I struggle to see how either of those players would be worse than Porier. Regardless, any shooting big man would give the Sixers a useful tool in their belt.
Many Sixers fans have also suggested potentially trading Danny Green for an upgrade at his position. My two cents: I wouldn’t trade Green unless it was for a huge upgrade offensively. For example, if they were able to swing Green+draft capital for either Evan Fournier or Victor Oladipo (both of whom are on expiring contracts), that’d be a homerun. But ultimately, those feel a bit like pipe dreams.