Four Questions About The Sixers Trade Deadline
Are this year’s Sixers better than they were 24 hours ago?
The 2024 NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and here is what the Sixers did:
There are a few ways we could break down Daryl Morey and company’s performance today, but I figured the best way would be to answer four simple questions. Let’s get into it.
Are this year’s Sixers better than they were 24 hours ago?
I’ll say yes, with the caveat that this only applies if they are fully healthy and are able to get their targets in the buyout market.
Buddy Hield is a really good offensive player who fills a huge need – volume and movement shooting – and figures to play a major role in the playoffs. Assuming a fully healthy roster, the only playoff rotation players the Sixers lost were Pat Bev and Marcus Morris. Morris’ minutes can now be absorbed by Robert Covington upon his return, and Beverley figures to be replaced by Kyle Lowry.
I’ve really enjoyed Beverley and I wish the Sixers didn’t trade him, but swapping him out for Lowry is at least a lateral move if healthy. It sucks for the vibes, but the Sixers’ rotation is better with Hield and Lowry than it was 24 hours ago.
Like everyone else, I’m displeased with a lot of how today went, but the simple answer to the question of whether or not the Sixers are a better team today than yesterday is yes. A rotation of Maxey-Melton-Batum-Harris-Embiid, Lowry-Hield-Oubre-Covington-Reed is still a really, really good team. A healthy version of that team has a puncher’s chance against anyone.
And yes, I’m not even mentioning Cam Payne, who stinks, and won’t play a single meaningful minute with the team at full strength.
Did the Sixers improve their long term championship odds?
No. They did not. They had a net loss of two second round picks and only brought back a 31 year old on an expiring contract who could very well be a rental.
To be fair, the Sixers have Hield’s bird rights, and they could absolutely re-sign him to a reasonable number this off-season. But given their cap sheet and the lackluster free agent market, re-signing Hield would likely be part of a bigger series of moves to re-sign multiple key members of this year’s roster, which essentially leaves them destined to be the same team next year that they are this year.
Put it this way: if the Sixers extend Maxey, and re-sign Hield, Melton, and Harris to reasonable numbers (let’s just budget $55 million total between the three of them), that already puts them well over the cap and creeping up on the luxury tax.
So, either Hield is a one-year rental, or you re-sign him and virtually lock yourself into bringing back this exact same core next season. This is not a stepping stone move of any kind. This is not betting on a young player with upside. This does not signify and is not a part of any long term plan. This is a win-now move that, in order to have any value beyond this season, eats away at your long term flexibility and almost ensures the return of this same unit next season.
So, with all that in mind, my answer is no, they did not improve their long term championship odds today.
Did they get good value for the things they traded away?
It’s mixed. I hate the value of the Springer trade; even if the front office was out on him, it serves no purpose to trade him now. Give him another off-season to develop, see if he pops next year, and if he doesn’t, surely you can trade him for a pick in the mid-40s next season. It’s simply bad value for a toolsy 21 year old.
While I don’t love the Hield trade from a big picture / long term plan perspective, the value in a vacuum is fine. Three second round picks for a player who makes 40 percent of his 3s on high volume year after year is perfectly fine value.
Having to give up a second round pick to salary dump Danuel House stinks. House can be a rotation player on most teams in the league, and dumping him to Detroit in order to duck the tax is just incredibly lame and frustrating.
I wouldn’t have wanted to trade Pat Bev both for vibes and depth purposes, but getting a second round pick for a player of his caliber is fine value in and of itself. It’s a risky move, and I feel as though the Sixers were trying to get too cute. But at the same time, if everything goes perfectly with Lowry, this could turn into a feather in the cap of Daryl Morey. He would have turned a minimum contract player into another second round pick and then replaced him for free with someone better.
Of course, Lowry could get injured and/or totally stink, and then this becomes an example of unnecessary risk taking.
So, to summarize: the in-a-vacuum value of each trade the Sixers made ranges from fine to very bad but not catastrophic.
What was their goal heading into the deadline, and did they execute it?
It seems as if the Sixers looked at the uncertainty around Embiid and figured that the best thing to do at this deadline was to take half a step towards getting better now and half a step towards replenishing moving forward.
It’s not a terrible thought, but it’s not the way I would have gone about things, and I also don’t love the execution. The Springer trade is bad thought process. The Beverley trade is an unnecessary risk. The Hield trade is fine value but not a steal. The House trade was an incredibly lame financially-focused move. The Sixers are slightly better, but there was a real lack of imagination and big picture planning going on at this deadline.
This is not a team that’s in the inner circle of title contenders, and they aren’t deliberately doing anything that will get them in the inner circle of title contenders. It’s a second round team making a series of moves that made them a slightly better second round team while also costing them a couple of assets.
For years now, it feels like I’ve been asking for more imaginative moves. Making these types of criticisms is always hard because I don’t know what offers were out there or what the Sixers tried to drum up, but after years of the same old shit I have to feel like it’s a matter of the Sixers’ lack of imagination.
The No. 1 seed Celtics just traded three second round picks for two young players who could potentially be bench contributors for years to come. The Knicks acquired two of the best players on the trade market without giving up a first round pick. The Thunder gave up next to nothing for Gordon Hayward.
I feel like I keep saying something like this once every few months: I don’t think there were any obvious moves that the Sixers should have made, but I have a hard time believing their options were as limited as their performance indicates. This is a team that is stuck where they are, and the lack of big picture thinking is going to continue to take its toll.
Is Tobias Harris still here?
Yes, he’s still here. I had to include this one just to ask myself the question because I just can’t fucking believe it.