The Case For The Sixers To Trade For Jae Crowder
The Sixers aren’t exactly flush with trade assets, but something in the framework of Furkan Korkmaz, Matisse Thybulle, and Shake Milton for Crowder would make sense for both teams.
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Of the many reasons for the Sixers’ somewhat underwhelming start to the season, the biggest one that jumps out on paper is their 15th ranked offense in the league. An offense that was slated to be overwhelming has been merely decent, and while some of that can be attributed to injuries, the eye test also indicates that the Sixers’ offense has been more stagnant and less dominant than many expected.
While the Sixers rank better when you narrow it down to half court offense (7th), it still trails behind expectations, and also fails to stack up to their rankings from the post-Harden trade portion of last season.
One of the more under-the-radar reasons for their underperformance on that end of the floor is that no one seemed to properly factor in the downgrade that P.J. Tucker is relative to Danny Green. Whereas Green was a quick-trigger shooter and created nonstop havoc with his off-ball movement, Tucker is a stationary offensive player who is currently attempting just 2.9 3s per 100 possessions – lowest on the Sixers besides Paul Reed and Montrezl Harrell.
In my last piece, I advocated for starting De’Anthony Melton over Tucker when the matchup allows it. Melton is simply a vastly better offensive player than Tucker, and attempts 9.9 3s per 100 possessions compared to Tucker’s 2.9. But perhaps there is an option that makes even more sense – trading for Jae Crowder.
Crowder is currently holding out in Phoenix as the team looks to trade him. He attempted 9.3 3s per 100 possessions last year, and 11.4 the year before that. He is a slight step down from Tucker as a defender, but the floor spacing he provides would be well worth it – I cannot properly state how valuable it would be to add a player who shoots above the break 3s and generates attention when moving off the ball.
The Sixers aren’t exactly flush with trade assets, but something in the framework of Furkan Korkmaz, Matisse Thybulle, and Shake Milton for Crowder would make sense for both teams. The Athletic’s Shams Charania recently reported that the Suns were close on a deal that would have sent Crowder to Milwaukee in exchange for four second round picks, which seems to be a comparable price to the Korkmaz/Thybulle/Milton package.
In those three players, the Suns would get three regular season rotation players along with the opportunity to extend Thybulle and Milton to bet on their upside long term. If there’s any offense that can make Thybulle useful, it’s Phoenix, and Milton’s ability to provide a scoring and playmaking punch, and play on or off-ball, would be a nice complement to Devin Booker as Chris Paul ages out of superstardom.
Korkmaz and Thybulle, while being useful regular season players, stand almost no chance of being rotation players in the playoffs, and Milton is always going to be limited in terms of his role as long as Maxey, Harden, and Melton are here. If you’re a believer that Jaden Springer deserves a crack at the rotation next year, that further adds to the likelihood that Milton would be buried if the Sixers were to retain him.
The other benefit of trading for Crowder is that the Sixers would earn his full bird rights with the trade, meaning that they can extend his contract despite being over the salary cap. For a team that is likely to have minimal options to upgrade the rotation for the next year or so, that’s a valuable consideration at play here – the risk of not trading Thybulle and Milton this year is that they both walk in free agency, and you’re left with nothing in their place and absolutely no trade-able assets come next year.
Crowder being added to the starting lineup would allow maximum flexibility for playing Tucker with well-spaced lineups. Tucker and Melton could be the first subs off the bench in exchange for Harris and Maxey, and a lineup of Melton-Harden-Crowder-Tucker-Embiid would have a ton of two-way juice. There’s also plenty to be said for the fact that Tucker is 37 years old, and it likely isn’t a good idea for him to have to play 35+ minutes a game when it counts, even in the playoffs. Even if you did elect to start Tucker and bring Crowder off the bench, he’s still a massive upgrade over the likes of Thybulle and Danuel House.
While I have my doubts about this Sixers team regardless, I think that adding one more two-way presence in Crowder takes this team to another level. If this team is ever going to reach its upside, it’s going to come by being an absolutely unstoppable offensive force, and I’m not sure they can accomplish that if they’re playing P.J. Tucker 35 minutes per game in the playoffs given his lack of spacing and general offensive ineptitude. It too often feels like this team is just a tad short on spacing, or that they’re overextending the minutes of House and Georges Niang. This team is a wing short, and in Crowder, the Sixers would immediately add their second best wing defender, and one of the most prolific shooters on the team.
Giving up Thybulle, Korkmaz, and Milton stings, particularly for sentimental reasons, but all three players have their limitations and are unlikely to be key rotation players in the playoffs for one reason or another. Even if it requires tossing in a second round pick, I’d be willing to make this deal if I had assurance that Crowder would agree to a contract beyond this season. If Phoenix is willing to engage on it, this deal makes too much sense not to happen.