Sixers Trade Deadline Primer
Everything you could ever need to know about the Sixers’ plans for the trade deadline — Ben Simmons and beyond.
Adam Aaronson, whose legal name is Sixers Adam (@SixersAdam on Twitter), covers the Sixers for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez. He believes cantaloupe is the best food in existence, and is brought to you by the Official Realtor of The Process, Adam Ksebe.
We are officially one week away from the NBA Trade Deadline, and one could argue no deadline has been more consequential for the Sixers than this one.
Of course, the main question to be answered is this: will the Ben Simmons saga end, or will it extend for at least a few more months?
Believe me, that will be addressed at length. But don’t let the Simmons discourse distract you from the rest of the possibilities that exist. In this piece, we’ll get to it all: from the salary cap rules the Sixers must adhere to, to all of the financial ramifications of different moves, to specific trade targets, and everything in between -- this primer will have it all.
THE BEN SIMMONS SITUATION
Of course, we must start here. Back in December, I went through the grating task of evaluating every NBA team as a possible suitor in a Simmons trade. For analysis of every single team, you can read here. While December feels like lifetimes ago at this point, the bulk of the piece remains relevant. Even after using the process of elimination, nearly half of the NBA could theoretically make a move for Simmons. So, let’s turn the calendar back to December 10, 2021 for a few moments and take a look at some of the teams I see as possible suitors. (A few necessary updates are provided.)
Generally unappealing but theoretically possible package deals
Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young is off the table, of course, but the Hawks have plenty of fascinating young players. De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Bogdan Bogdanovic all would make some sense as Sixers, as would veteran Danillo Gallinari. Unfortunately, Kevin Huerter is likely off limits due to his pending contract extension.
Update: Hawks forward John Collins has expressed frustration with his role in Atlanta and could be a major piece of a Simmons-to-Atlanta move. Additionally, Reddish is no longer on the table, as he has since been dealt to New York.
Dallas Mavericks: A deal here would be centered around Kristaps Porzingis, who infamously avoided heading to Philadelphia in 2015. That’s the only way Dallas can make a compelling offer, but I find myself not compelled at all.
Detroit Pistons: There has been some noise about the Pistons being interested in Simmons, who would fit well with Cade Cunningham as a secondary initiator. The Pistons have Jerami Grant, who has turned himself into a very good player but is likely a poor fit with players like Embiid and Tobias Harris. They have interesting young pieces, such as Isaiah Stewart and Villanova product Saddiq Bey. Kelly Olynyk is one Piston who would fit well in Philadelphia.
Golden State Warriors: Warriors owner Joe Lacob has made public comments regarding Simmons that make it seem as if they are not interested in making a deal. But they have Andrew Wiggins’ salary and some interesting young players: Jordan Poole takes the cake, with James Wiseman, Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga all being lesser but decent prospects.
Update: with Wiggins’ emergence as an All-Star, it stands to reason this idea is even more unlikely now.
Houston Rockets: It would be quite grim if the Sixers traded Simmons to Houston now after failing to do so when James Harden was available last season. A deal here would likely center around Eric Gordon, Christian Wood and some young talent not named Jalen Green.
Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies have incredible depth, but as their young players get closer to being paid the big bucks, they may look to consolidate a bit. Adding Simmons to their young core headlined by Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson, Jr. would be a fascinating fit. But while the Grizzlies are deep, they don’t have much top-level talent on their roster elsewhere, which leads me to believe they don’t have much of a chance here.
Minnesota Timberwolves: One of the most commonly-mentioned teams in the Simmons sweepstakes, the Wolves have a center in Karl-Anthony Towns who would fit seamlessly with Simmons. However, the main piece coming back to Philadelphia would likely be D’Angelo Russell, who I simply don’t think Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey would be particularly fond of due to his shooting frequencies. But, as we saw recently, Russell is a tough-shot-maker, and Minnesota does have some interesting young pieces such as Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Jaden McDaniels and others, plus all of their draft picks.
Slightly more valuable packages
Charlotte Hornets: The Hornets make for a fascinating Simmons destination because they can check every box. They have two highly-paid, productive offensive players in Gordon Hayward and (to a lesser extent) Terry Rozier. They have young players who would fit in well in Philadelphia -- Miles Bridges and PJ Washington come to mind -- and they have the long-term flexibility to add a contract the size of Simmons’ without being at risk of finding themselves in a difficult position financially. Kelly Oubre, Jr. is another name to keep an eye on here.
Update: after signing a contract extension, Rozier is no longer available.
Indiana Pacers: With the Pacers reportedly prepared to blow things up and begin a rebuild, they could see Simmons as the kind of blue-chip talent they need to kick things off. Domantas Sabonis is their most valuable asset, but given his lack of utility for the Sixers, I view the Pacers as an option in a three-team trade, where Sabonis goes to a third team, who then gives the Sixers assets. If it were just a two-team trade, however, watch for either (or both) of Caris LeVert, TJ Warren to lead a potential package.
New Orleans Pelicans: Ironically, Brandon Ingram, who was selected second overall in 2016 after the Sixers selected Simmons, would be a reasonable match here. Ingram’s scoring would be a boon for the Sixers, adding a dimension to their offense that they haven’t had since the exodus of Butler. Outside of Ingram, the Pelicans do have some young talent and a tremendous amount of draft picks, making them another option as part of a three-team deal, in which the Sixers flip New Orleans’ young talent and/or draft picks to a third team for more appealing win-now players.
San Antonio Spurs: For whatever reason, I have had a hunch for months that the Spurs would be a team with heavy interest in Simmons. They are starved for All-Star-level talent, and have a large assortment of young players who could help the Sixers. Their best asset is DeJounte Murray, but don’t count out Derrick White, Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell, all young players who could help the Sixers immediately if they can’t find a true star they can acquire. They have a few veterans as well -- Doug McDermott should be considered a possibility, as should Thaddeus Young (the return!).
Most realistic “stars”
Some of the names we’re about to get to may not be top-25 players, but they’re close enough that they’d be worth considering as the centerpiece of a deal.
Portland Trail Blazers: Top Sixers target Damian Lillard is completely unavailable at the moment, leaving CJ McCollum as the obvious middle-ground solution. But with McCollum now missing time due to a collapsed lung and there being reports that the Sixers aren’t currently interested in a McCollum-centric deal, I still think it’s a possibility. The Sixers could seek other win-now pieces, such as our old friend Robert Covington and Larry Nance, Jr.
Sacramento Kings: Despite having a relatively down season, De’Aaron Fox is someone I could see being moved in a Simmons trade. Sacramento has Davion Mitchell and Tyrese Haliburton under contract, likely making a Fox move at least somewhat possible. The Kings can’t be counted out to offer a package deal -- they have helpful players such as Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes -- but I wouldn’t be nearly as interested in that kind of deal. Truthfully, I would even be hesitant on Fox, even if you could get him at his point of lowest value. There’s some major risk involved given his shaky track record as a shooter.
Update: Haliburton’s name has been mentioned in trade talks frequently, but reports now indicate that the Kings, one of the most well-known Simmons suitors, are out on talks for the Sixers’ star at the moment. We’ll see if that remains true between now and the deadline.
Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam is likely a long-shot at this point. But what about Fred VanVleet? VanVleet is one of the few players who can actually call himself a combo-guard, and he’d make a significant difference for the Sixers as a perimeter threat both off the dribble and the catch. Asking him to run an entire offense may be difficult, but he would be a massive addition and a very interesting fit with Tyrese Maxey, among others. OG Anunoby may also be untouchable, but he would give you a very good replacement for Simmons defensively as he continues to evolve as an offensive player. He’d likely be nothing more than salary filler, but the Raptors also have Goran Dragic, who is almost certainly available considering he is out of Toronto’s rotation.
Some things have been altered in the last month and change, but for the most part, these scenarios have stood the test of time.
But as far as material changes go, here’s one: reports have surfaced indicating that Brooklyn Nets star James Harden has some level of interest in leaving Brooklyn and joining the Sixers when he is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Because of their already-crowded cap sheet, the Sixers would almost certainly only be able to acquire Harden through a sign-and-trade, rather than an outright free agent signing. If things get to that point, you need to have the goods for Brooklyn to be willing to play ball -- and that’s where the big question comes: do you trade Simmons this season and likely take yourselves out of the hypothetical Harden sweepstakes, or do you hang onto him in hopes of landing Harden in the summer, but risk wasting another MVP-caliber season from Joel Embiid?
With the market for Simmons seemingly not where the Sixers want it to be, if I had to guess, I’d say the Sixers ultimately hang onto Simmons and hope to pry away Harden (or another star who may soon become malcontent) during the offseason. And as much as I want to see this entire adventure come to an end, I can’t blame them at this point.
So, my official position is as follows: if the Sixers have credible evidence that a Harden sign-and-trade is genuinely possible (my non-sourced belief is that it is), I wouldn’t have a problem with waiting until the offseason to make a Simmons deal. Simmons almost certainly will continue to refuse to return to the court in a Sixers uniform, and that means you very well may end up not capitalizing on the legendary campaign Embiid is having. But right now, I’m not sure a deal that makes the Sixers true championship contenders this season exists. And as brutal as it would be to not give Embiid the support he needs this season, even their biggest critics would admit an Embiid-Harden pairing would give the Sixers the best chance to win a championship that they have ever had.
SOME QUICK MATH
Before we get to the trade targets, we have to focus on the nitty-gritty for a bit.
As a luxury tax team, when the Sixers make a trade, they can take back 125 percent of the salary they gave up, plus $100K, in returning salary (ex: if they traded someone who makes $10M, they could take back $12.6M).
So, here’s the amount of money the Sixers are allowed to take back in return for some of the most commonly-suggested trade packages:
Simmons + Danny Green: $52,087,500
Green + Korkmaz + Paul Reed OR Isaiah Joe: $20,284,514
Green + Korkmaz: $18,387,038
Korkmaz + Reed OR Joe + Charles Bassey: $8,941,086
Korkmaz + Reed OR Joe: $7,784,514
Shake Milton: $2,408,423
Reed OR Joe: $1,997,476
The Sixers have their precious optionality when making trades in several respects, but they do have a couple of restrictions:
The Sixers cannot trade Joel Embiid this season due to his pending contract extension.
The Sixers owe Oklahoma City their 2025 first-round pick. In addition to not being able to trade that pick, this means they cannot trade their 2024 or 2026 first-round picks due to the Stepien Rule, which prohibits a team from not having first-round picks in consecutive future drafts.
Here we go! Now that we have all of the details settled, let’s turn our attention to those the Sixers may look to as they attempt to bolster their roster -- likely in trades that don’t involve Simmons. For the sake of organization, I’ll break up the targets by what they would be providing to the Sixers.
Ball-handling has been this team’s biggest need in past critical junctures, and while I’m not sure if it remains the team’s biggest hole, they could certainly improve there. Maxey, of course, has shined in his role as the team’s new starting point guard. Behind him, though, Milton has had an inconsistent and injury-plagued season. Seth Curry and Korkmaz have been put in a difficult spot as emergency point guards, and would both be better off in an off-ball role. So, let’s say the Sixers do decide to upgrade from Milton -- who can they look to for help? We’ll start with the players I view as the best and most realistic candidates and make our way down the list.
Dennis Schroder, Boston Celtics (remaining contract: one year, $5.8M)
The Celtics moving Schroder before his contract expires feels like a real possibility. For the Sixers, he’d add more rim pressure than anyone currently on the roster can provide. He’s improved leaps and bounds as a shooter in recent years, and is an excellent third guard who can come off the bench and make an impact on the offensive end.
Patrick Beverley, Minnesota Timberwolves (remaining contract: one year, $14.3M)
Beverley is not necessarily the shot-creator that the Sixers could use, but his hounding defense and off-ball value as a shooter (he’s struggled from three-point range this season, but has a long track record of being a good shooter) make him an intriguing option if the Wolves view him as expendable.
Kemba Walker, New York Knicks (remaining contract: two years, $17.8M)
Walker infamously fell out of New York’s rotation for a brief period before reclaiming the starting point guard job. Aside from a few standout performances, his production has largely been disappointing. If the Knicks decide to cut their losses and move on, Walker’s skillset is uniquely fit for what this team could use from that spot in the rotation.
Raul Neto, Washington Wizards (remaining contract: one year, $2M)
The return?! I’ve long believed in Neto as a viable backup point guard, a heady player who can make some advanced passes and knock down open shots. When Neto isn’t physically overwhelmed, there’s no question he is a suitable rotation guard. But at 6-foot-1, he often is -- and that’s a generous listing.
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets (remaining contract: three years, $58.7M)
I would deem Gordon to be an unrealistic option if the Sixers weren’t run by Daryl Morey, who acquired Gordon in Houston and rewarded him with this healthy contract. Gordon has been known for his shooting in the past, but he is also a capable ball-handler and defender.
DJ Augustin, Houston Rockets (remaining contract: two years, $14M… $7M guaranteed)
At this stage of his career, Augustin is more of a floor general and organizer than anything else. He won’t give you anything flashy, but there is value to having a good shooter who also has 13 years of experience playing point guard in the NBA. Additionally, only $333K of his salary is guaranteed next season, so the Sixers could make an informed decision based on what they see from him post-hypothetical trade.
Goran Dragic, Toronto Raptors (remaining contract: one year, $19.4M)
If the Sixers acquire Dragic, it would almost certainly either be as salary filler in a Simmons-to-Toronto deal, or as a member of the buyout market. Dragic has been away from the Raptors as they seek a new destination for him.
Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs (remaining contract: four years, $70M)
I have a feeling White won’t be shopped around at the deadline by San Antonio, but it’s still worth making a call and finding out. If he is available, though, White shoots to the top of this list. White has had an uncharacteristically poor shooting season in 2021-22, but he is still a good player, and he’s one young enough and under contract for long enough to grow with the rest of the Sixers’ core pieces.
Reggie Jackson, Los Angeles Clippers (remaining contract: two years, $22M)
Similarly, Jackson is likely a long-shot as the Clippers prepare for the returns of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George from their injuries. But the fit is so clear that I feel it’s necessary to at least mention Jackson.
Cory Joseph, Detroit Pistons (remaining contract: two years, $10M… player option for 2022-23)
Joseph is a more defensive-oriented guard, which is not exactly what the Sixers need in the backcourt. However, Joseph is having a career-best season as a shooter, though admittedly, the sample size isn’t big enough to make any declarations.
Caris LeVert, Indiana Pacers (remaining contract: two years, $36.3M)
I view LeVert as a bit unrealistic for the Sixers, as the Sixers would have to be dealing Green for salary reasons, and Green wouldn’t be of any value to a rebuilding Pacers team. Regardless, he is a tall initiator, and those guys don’t exactly grow on trees.
Tomas Satoransky, New Orleans Pelicans (remaining contract: one year, $10M)
Satoransky has long been a favorite of mine, another tall ball-handler who can add some versatility to this team. Unfortunately, he has barely played this season. He would be easy to attain if the Sixers want him… but I can’t imagine they do at this point.
Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers (remaining contract: one year, $6.4M… restricted free agent following this season)
How about a wild card to close out this list? Sexton is almost certainly out for the remainder of the regular season due to a knee injury. He’s never been a favorite of mine, but when healthy, he is a formidable perimeter scorer who can add a major punch to just about any team. The Sixers will likely be more focused on short-term reinforcements, but this actually isn’t the craziest idea.
Two-way wing depth
This is, in my view, the team’s biggest need. With Simmons out of the picture and Green frequently suffering injuries, the Sixers have become depleted on the wing, particularly defensively. The team could really use another sizable perimeter defender, not just to add to the rotation, but also to be insurance of sorts in case Green goes down with an injury again. Here comes the biggest list of this section:
Kenrich Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder (remaining contract: two years, $4M)
Oklahoma City is reportedly seeking a first-round pick in exchange for Williams, who has established himself as a quality, well-rounded rotation player. That price is too rich for me, but if the Thunder eventually show a willingness to move him for multiple second-round picks, the Sixers should call. He isn’t a completely perfect fit, but he’d help quite a bit.
Garrett Temple, New Orleans Pelicans (remaining contract: three years, $15.4M… $10M guaranteed
Temple is on a struggling New Orleans team that should be ready to move some pieces to free up more playing time for their younger guys. Temple isn’t a great shooter, but he’s a willing one, which is almost as valuable. Defensively, he would give you another reliable option on the wing.
Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets (remaining contract: two years, $3.3M, 2022-23 team option, restricted free agent following 2022-23 season)
Tate would be a fabulous Bus pickup for the Sixers -- he fits their needs very well in the present and is only 26 years old, with potentially multiple years of control left. Tate’s shooting is suspect, but he more than makes up for it with his defense, rebounding and passing.
Josh Hart, New Orleans Pelicans (remaining contract: three years, $37.9M, $12M guaranteed)
Hart’s jump-shooting has hit a wall in recent years, which is a bit disappointing as far as skill development goes. However, he is a reliable two-way player who has become a regular starter for the Pelicans, averaging a career-high 13.4 points per game to go with 7.8 rebounds. The Villanova product would not only bolster the team’s defense, but he would be significantly helpful as the Sixers look to improve their rebounding. Doc Rivers has spoken at length about the team’s guards needing to be capable on the boards -- Hart fits that mold.
Nicolas Batum, Los Angeles Clippers (remaining contract: two years, $6.5M, 2022-23 player option)
Like Reggie Jackson, Batum is likely not going to be shopped by a Clippers team that is a few returns away from contention. But if they do end up making some minor sales, Batum will be one of the more sought-after trade targets on the market. Batum is shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc on significant volume for the second straight season, has great size for a wing and can handle the ball as well. He could be a massive upgrade to the Sixers’ bench, but he could also be a starter for this team.
Robert Covington, Portland Trail Blazers (remaining contract: one year, $12.9M)
Our old friend! Covington is no longer the elite defensive player he was during the end of his time in Philadelphia, but he remains very solid on that end and is still a very willing shooter. Covington would be a significant boost to the bench of almost any contender as a reliable bet to not be played off the floor on either end of the floor during the playoffs -- that kind of player is a massively valuable asset, and the Sixers don’t have a ton of them.
Justin Holiday, Indiana Pacers (remaining contract: two years, $12.2M)
A former Sixer! Holiday has established himself as a reliable two-way player, a player any team would love to have coming off their bench. Holiday is unvaccinated, which reports suggest may drive down his value. Vaccination status aside, he is a more than useful player who could add some stability to the Sixers’ bench.
Trevor Ariza, Los Angeles lakers (remaining contract: one year, $2.6M)
Ariza has had a long and impressive career as a big wing who can take on tough defensive assignments and knock down open looks. But after a couple of decent stints in Portland and Miami, Ariza has struggled mightily for the Lakers. As LA prepares to foot a steep luxury tax bill, they could look to offload Ariza, who has fallen out of their rotation entirely.
David Nwaba, Houston Rockets (remaining contract: three years, $15M, 2023-24 team option)
A true defensive specialist, Nwaba has always struggled to leave his mark offensively. As a defender though, he is as reliable as it gets. Nwaba is only 6-foot-5, but boasts a 7-foot wingspan that helps him guard above his size. The Sixers may not be able to stomach his weaknesses offensively, but he’d be capable of leaving his mark defensively in a major way.
Torrey Craig, Indiana Pacers (remaining contract: two years, $10M)
Craig is an excellent wing defender whose size enables him to be versatile on that end of the floor. He was a valuable depth piece for last year’s Phoenix Suns, before signing with a Pacers team that has since fallen in the standings and pivoted towards a rebuild. The upside isn’t exactly there, but you know what you’d be getting from Craig, and that in itself can be valuable in the right situation.
Josh Jackson, Detroit Pistons (remaining contract: one year, $5M)
Similarly, Jackson is a defensive-oriented player. He’s a terrific athlete, but his shot simply never came around, leaving him on the fringes of the NBA. Jackson would be a shorter-term alternative to Nwaba, who fits the same archetype.
Tony Snell, Portland Trail Blazers (remaining contract: one year, $2.3M)
Snell is a very good shooter with a 7-foot wingspan. He’s flawed -- and on a veteran’s minimum contract for a reason -- but would add some reasonable depth to the Sixers’ wing pecking order. Here’s a fun fact: Snell has not missed a free throw in nearly three years. The last time he did was March 12, 2019 -- since then, he is 50-50 from the line. Crazy!
Maurice Harkless, Sacramento Kings (remaining contract: two years, $8.9M)
Harkless gives you defensive value, standing at 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, but the Sixers draftee dealt in the infamous Andrew Bynum deal is not a reliable offensive player. The shot has just never come around, leaving him as a very limited role player.
Justise Winslow, Los Angeles Clippers (remaining contract: two years, $8M)
Even if the Clippers don’t sell all of their useful pieces, they could easily still try to move Winslow, who has failed to make his mark since signing with LA. Winslow has had a rough year, but he remains intriguing to me because of what he is capable of being: a very good wing defender who also has some passing and ball-handling chops. This is a gamble I ultimately wouldn’t take, but it’s one worth considering.
Hamidou Diallo, Detroit Pistons (remaining contract: two years, $10.4M, 2022-23 team option)
Diallo is an interesting player whose value is largely derived from his freakish athleticism. His excellent physical tools give him the potential to be an impact player on the defensive end. He also can score as a slasher of sorts, despite a shaky jumper. Especially because you can give him a trial run and cut ties at the end of the year if things don’t work out, this option appeals to me a bit.
Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio Spurs (remaining contract: one year, $4.4M, restricted free agent following this season)
A Reading, PA native, Walker is on a Spurs team with loads of young players on the wing. They may ultimately face some difficult decisions, like having to unload one of their prospects. Walker IV has struggled as a three-point shooter this season, but his prior resume suggests he’s due for some shots falling.
Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies (remaining contract: one year, $9.9)
The Grizzlies are another team that has some tough calls to make in the near future. They have an incredibly deep team, and likely won’t be able to pay everyone. I doubt Anderson will ultimately be made available, but there’s a world in which the Grizzlies look at their depth chart and decide they can move someone in their rotation and stay equally competitive.
Jarrett Culver, Memphis Grizzlies (remaining contract: $14.5M, 2022-23 player option)
Culver was drafted as a ball-handler more so than a wing. But at 6-foot-6, he may profile as a guard-turned-wing who can also be a secondary or tertiary initiator -- which is an archetype that Morey has liked in the past. Culver is on the outskirts of the rotation in Memphis, possibly a sign that he can become an available target.
Jeremy Lamb, Indiana Pacers (remaining contract: one year, $10.5M)
Lamb has had an injury-riddled tenure in Indiana, playing in just 120 games over the last 2.5-plus seasons. Given Indiana’s shifting timeline, it’s reasonable to assume Lamb is on his way out. If the Sixers can make a play for him, they could have a chance of adding a really useful player to their rotation. Lamb has been able to score the ball on decent volume at around league-average efficiency for quite a few years now.
TJ Warren, Indiana Pacers (remaining contract: one year, $12.6M)
Warren showed the promise of an elite scorer during the 2019-20 season, particularly in The Bubble, but has since been sidelined with a problematic foot injury. Trading for Warren would be a major risk due to the aforementioned health issues, but if they got him on the floor, his performance would almost certainly outweigh the cost of acquiring him.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Washington Wizards (remaining contract: two years, $27M, $4.8M guaranteed in 2022-23)
The early-season Wizards would not have made KCP available, but they’re currently in free-fall, so everything should be on the table. Caldwell-Pope is a rock-solid wing who isn’t going to blow you away anywhere, but can be -- and already has been -- part of a championship team’s rotation.
Kyle Kuzma, Washington Wizards (remaining contract: three years, $39M, 2023-24 player option)
Fresh off a dominant performance against the Sixers, Kuzma has proven during his time with the Wizards that he is far more than just a figment of Lakers fans’ imagination. He is a rock-solid player who gives you value on both ends of the floor. Will the Wizards make him available? Who knows. But if they do, the Sixers -- and pretty much every other team, for that matter -- should be calling.
Thaddeus Young, San Antonio Spurs (remaining contract: one year, $14.1M)
Young coming to the Sixers would most likely happen via a buyout rather than a trade. And while the Sixers could use someone with his skillset, there are likely teams who will need it more, and as a result be able to offer him more playing time. Never say never, though!
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings (remaining contract: two years, $38.9M)
Barnes is at the end of this section because he likely would have to be acquired in a much bigger deal due to his large salary. Regardless, he has had a very good year, shooting threes at a higher volume and efficiency than he ever has during his time in Sacramento. Barnes is a very useful wing these days.
With Green often injured and Korkmaz struggling as a three-point shooter since his hot start, the Sixers could use someone who they can rely on to provide floor spacing, even if most of their value would come in the regular season.
Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings (remaining contract: three years, $61.5M)
Like Barnes, Hield would most likely be acquired in a larger deal. But he’s been connected to the Sixers via rumors so frequently over the last few years that it’s worth mentioning his case. He is without question an elite shooter, despite so far this season shooting a career-low 36.1 percent from beyond the arc. A career 40-percent three-point shooter (on significant volume) and 86.4-percent free throw shooter, there is no doubt he will turn things around in that regard very soon. I’ve never been on high as Hield as others -- however, a shooter as good as he is has a whole lot of value in today’s game.
Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic (remaining contract: two years, $13M)
Ross has been connected to the Sixers many times throughout the years, and is probably one of the very most likely players in the league to be dealt in the next seven days. Ross is a frighteningly confident shooter, though his actual efficiency doesn’t quite match his ambition. I suppose the Sixers could use an irrational confidence guy, but Ross wouldn’t be high on my personal wishlist.
E’Twaun Moore, Orlando Magic (remaining contract: one year, $2.6M)
Moore has a lengthy track record of being an above-average shooter. Unfortunately, he may simply be a one-trick pony. But let’s say the Sixers give up a few pieces for one of the more expensive players listed in this piece -- if they have to fill a roster spot or two after making their move, Moore could make sense as an easily-attainable player with at least one legitimate NBA skill.
Doug McDermott, San Antonio Spurs (remaining contract: three years $41.2M)
I’m a bit gun-shy here because of the length and magnitude of McDermott’s deal. But there is no question McDermott’s shooting -- above 40 percent from beyond the arc during his career -- would be a massive boon for this Sixers offense.
Wayne Ellington, Los Angeles Lakers (remaining contract: one year, $2.6M)
Like Ariza, Ellington has failed to leave his mark for the Lakers, who could be looking to shed luxury tax dollars. Ellington likely isn’t a viable playoff rotation piece, but would give the Sixers some useful shooting and depth off the bench.
Ben McLemore, Portland Trail Blazers (remaining contract: one year, $2.3M)
The Blazers are reaching a crossroads where some difficult decisions need to be made. But what isn’t a hard choice is moving McLemore, an excellent shooter on high volume who can add a spark to a team’s offense. Over the last three seasons, McLemore hasn’t even averaged 20 minutes per game and has still shot nearly six attempts from three-point range per game. He is a truly unconscious shooter, which the Sixers could use right now.
The Sixers have firmly established their rotation of Embiid and Andre Drummond at the center position. However, Bassey and Reed have played hot potato with the third-string role all year long. Both players have shown flashes of promise, but have also seen their weaknesses exposed. If the Sixers want to stabilize that spot in the depth chart, they have more than a few options.
Mike Muscala, Oklahoma City Thunder (remaining contract: two years, $7M, 2022-23 team option)
Let’s hope AU stopped reading at some point before this one -- because I actually like Muscala as an option quite a bit. He is a floor spacer shooting a career-best 42.5 percent from beyond the arc, and is under control for another year after this one if he plays well. The author of an epic game-winner that netted the Sixers the draft pick that became Maxey, Muscala would make a lot of sense as the third-string center.
Kelly Olynyk, Detroit Pistons (remaining contract: three years, $37.1M, $28M guaranteed)
Olynyk may be expensive, but for my money he’s worth it with the way he’s played over the last few years. Olynyk is, of course, an excellent floor spacer -- but he can play the four in addition to the five and has become a very good passer who you can run part of your offense through.
Larry Nance, Jr., Portland Trail Blazers (remaining contract: two years, $20.3M)
Nance will likely have suitors in teams with more of a need for his services than the Sixers, but he is an excellent, vastly-underrated big who is as versatile as they come defensively and an improved player offensively.
Robin Lopez, Orlando Magic (remaining contract: one year, $5M)
Lopez has had a fascinating career arc, as he has improved his offensive repertoire quite a bit recently despite being in his later years. He won’t jump off the screen anywhere, but he is a competent big who would be a clear upgrade from Reed and Bassey.
Alex Len, Sacramento Kings (remaining contract: two years, $7.6M)
Len is your run-of-the-mill backup big, one who doesn’t have too many strengths but also may not have any significant weaknesses. Once again, he’s an option that is likely more trustworthy than the ones the Sixers currently have.
Trey Lyles, Detroit Pistons (remaining contract: two years, $5.1M, 2022-23 team option)
Lyles was drafted and developed as a four, but he has the size to be a center in certain matchups. He hasn’t shot the ball particularly well this season, but is a good enough shooter to warrant some interest at the end of the bench.
Ed Davis, Cleveland Cavaliers (remaining contract: one year, $2.6M)
Davis has been a reliable rebounder and rim protector for quite a while now. He won’t be the most exciting option, but he would give the Sixers some much-needed stability if acquired.
First of all, if you’ve made it this far, thank you! All readers and sharers are greatly appreciated, as this took a whole lot of time, effort and energy to put together.
Of course, this trade deadline for the Sixers will be defined by what happens with Simmons. And my hunch is that nothing happens, and they move onto next offseason in hopes of landing Harden, Lillard, Bradley Beal or some other perimeter star who becomes available.
But don’t let that distract you from the bigger picture: even without discounting the Simmons situation, it’s important to remember that this is still a very good team built around a legitimate MVP candidate.
Morey and General Manager Elton Brand have already made a lot of tough calls during their time running the SIxers. And they’ve got some more coming up over the next week.