NBA trade deadline primer for the Sixers
The March 25 trade deadline is rapidly approaching.
We should expect the Sixers to come up a whole lot regarding playmaking guards, stretch bigs, and really any player that can help fortify their bench.
To get you ready for the deadline, we look at possible trade targets and the assets the Sixers have at their disposal.
Will Toronto make Lowry available? Does Lowry want to be traded to a true contender? Those are two big questions that will need to be answered. What’s unquestionable is the value Lowry would bring to the Sixers as a veteran, championship point guard.
Lowry’s ball-handling and shot-making would be welcome additions to the Sixers’ offense. While decline is a concern – especially if the idea is to re-sign the pending free agent in the offseason – all six of Lowry’s All-Star appearances came after he turned 28. The soon-to-be 35-year-old is still playing at a high level, averaging 17.6 points and 7.4 assists per game while shooting 43.8/39.1/88.4.
Salary: $30 million in 2020-21; free agent in 2021-22
Trade cost: The price will be high. The valuation in a recent ESPN article seems about right. Would Danny Green, Mike Scott, Terrance Ferguson, Tyrese Maxey, and two first-round picks get it done? Is that price too high for Daryl Morey and company? We’ll find out soon enough.
If Lowry is unavailable, Ball could be an intriguing backup plan. He doesn’t have the playoff pedigree of Lowry, but Ball’s ability as a ball-handler could give the Sixers a boost. While his assists are down slightly, so are his turnovers at a career-high usage rate.
Ball is an ascending defender and has become a fairly reliable shooter. Over the last two seasons, Ball is hitting almost 38 percent of his threes on nearly seven attempts a game in 96 games. That’s a healthy sample size. He’s also shooting a career-high 76.7 percent from the line. Ball could easily slide into the Sixers’ starting unit while also taking over primary ball-handling duties when Ben Simmons is off the floor.
Salary: $11 million in 2020-21; restricted free agent in 2021-22
Trade cost: It’s hard to know what the price would be for Ball. He’ll be a restricted free agent this offseason and the Pelicans have a bunch of guards under contract beyond 2020-21. You’d also have Ball’s Bird Rights, making it easier to re-sign the 23-year-old if he performs well.
A report surfaced that the Sixers have “inquired” about Barton. That makes sense considering Barton would be an ideal fit either in the starting lineup or off the bench. Barton is a pure scorer, something this team desperately needs.
Barton’s numbers have dipped a bit this season, but the 30-year-old is still a dangerous scorer. Barton’s ability to create off the dribble and get his own shot would be ideal for the Sixers. He’s become a true three-level scorer, shooting 37 percent from three over his last five seasons while averaging over 14 points a game in that span. Think of Barton as a taller and younger version of Lou Williams.
Salary: $13.7 million in 2020-21; player option at $14.6 million in 2021-22
Trade cost: The Nuggets have struggled as a team despite Nikola Jokic’s MVP caliber first half. Barton has a player option for next season that he’s likely to pick up. Moving Barton for expiring contracts and draft compensation to clear space in the offseason could be an attractive option for Denver, which sits as the fifth seed in the West.
While the Sixers haven’t been directly linked to Oladipo, the two-time All-Star could be available per multiple reports. To get the negative out of the way first: Oladipo has an injury history and hasn’t shot the ball well since being traded to the Rockets. With that said, Oladipo ticks a lot of boxes for the Sixers.
He can create off the dribble and spend time as a primary ball-handler. When he’s healthy, he’s at least a league-average three-point shooter who is not gun shy. When he’s on, he can be a three-level scorer. He’s a strong defender, making him one of the better two-way options available.
Salary: $21 million in 2020-21; free agent in 2021-22
Trade cost: Trading for Oladipo would be risky. As part of the James Harden trade, the Pacers received Caris LeVert and a second-round pick for Oladipo. The price likely hasn’t gone up with reports that the pending free agent already turned down an extension offer from the Rockets. Oladipo is a risky target, but the payoff could be huge.
There are no reports of Williams being on the market, but his minutes and scoring are down. A recent ESPN article created a fake trade which saw Williams return to the Sixers and reunite with his former coach Doc Rivers.
We all know what Williams brings to the table. The two-time Sixth Man of the Year is a microwave scorer that can create offense for himself and others. Williams is shooting 38.3 percent from three this season, which would be a career-high. The 34-year-old is far from a defensive stalwart, but he can be an OK team defender.
Salary: $8 million in 2020-21; free agent in 2021-22
Trade cost: This really depends on what the Clippers do. Reports indicate they’re looking for more of a true point guard like the next guy on our list. If that’s the case, perhaps Williams becomes available for a first or a couple seconds.
The Sixers have been linked to Hill and it’s easy to see why. The 34-year-old would be an ideal fit as a steady veteran point guard, extra ball-handler, and strong three-point shooter.
Hill is toiling away in Oklahoma City after being sent there as part of the Jrue Holiday trade. Hill is currently sidelined with a thumb injury but has played well for the Thunder. He’s averaging 11.8 points, 3.1 assists and less than a turnover in 26.4 minutes per game. His shooting splits are also very strong – 50.8/38.6/84.
Salary: $9.5 million in 2020-21; $10 million (partial guarantee, $1.2 million buyout) for 2021-22
Trade cost: Hill’s $9.5 million salary wouldn’t be difficult to match, and Morey already has a history with GM Sam Presti. For a second-round pick or two, Hill is a player to keep an eye on.
Larry Nance, Jr.
Recent reports have linked the Sixers to Nance. Nance would fill a need as backup four and small-ball five.
Nance’s game continues to expand out to the three-point line (36.5 percent from three) and his defensive versatility is growing (1.8 steals a game). The 28-year-old is still explosive and a strong screener and roller. This makes him an ideal pick-and-roll partner. His ability to make threes also makes him a pick-and-pop threat which will keep defenses guessing.
Salary: $11.7 million in 2020-21; $10.6 million in 2021-22; $9.6 million in 2022-23
Trade cost: The fact that Nance is signed through 2022-23 could make him a more attractive option. It could also make the Cavs more likely to move him for a first or a couple seconds in order to clear cap space.
The Sixers saw firsthand how dangerous Wright can be. Back on January 25, the 28-year-old posted a career-high 28 points and nine assists. While it was a career night for Wright, he offers a skillset that could certainly help the Sixers.
Like Hill, Wright is a steady-handed point guard that doesn’t turn the ball over. Wright is averaging 5.1 assists to just 1.3 turnovers this season. While he may not be an elite scorer (10.5 points a game), Wright can create off the bounce for himself and others. He’s more crafty than explosive, which would likely play well next to Simmons. He’s also a competent shooter (35.6 percent from three this season).
Salary: $9 million in 2020-21; $8.5 million in 2021-22
Trade cost: The Pistons may not be in a hurry to trade Wright, who still has another year on his contract and has been a good influence on a young team. It’s still worth seeing what the asking price would be if you’re the Sixers.
The (almost)former Sixer has been an easy link as a trade target this season. The 32-year-old’s minutes have been sporadic as the Kings are going with youth as they fall deeper out of the playoff picture.
Bjelica isn’t shooting well this season (29.3 percent from three) but hit over 41 percent from beyond the arc the previous three seasons combined. While Bjelica is a minus on defense, he could fit the Sixers as a stretch four and small-ball five in matchups that don’t suit Dwight Howard.
Salary: $7.1 million in 2020-21; free agent in 2021-22
Trade cost: If it costs the Sixers anything more than a second-round pick, it’s likely not worth pulling the trigger on.
The Sixers own all their first-round selections with the exception of 2025. That pick belongs to the Oklahoma City Thunder from the Al Horford trade. It does have protections but barring anything disastrous will likely convey in 2025. Keep the Stepien Rule in mind, which essentially limits the Sixers from trading first-rounders in consecutive years.
As far as second-round picks go, the Sixers don’t have their own 2022 selection but do have three other’s team future picks: New York Knicks (2021), the most favorable of Atlanta, Charlotte or Brooklyn (2023), Miami Heat (2024).
The Sixers also have three trade exceptions, with the most valuable being the $8.2 million exception they received in the Horford deal. Trade exceptions cannot be combined as part of a package for a player. For instance, in a deal for someone like Bjelica, the Sixers could use that trade exception to absorb his $7.1 million cap hit but would only be able to give Sacramento draft picks, not a player on their roster. The Sixers also have trade exceptions from their deals involving James Ennis ($1.8 million) and Josh Richardson ($35K).
While the Sixers can’t use their taxpayer midlevel exception in a trade, it could prove to be valuable when buyout season begins. The Sixers will be able to offer a player -- like potential buyout candidates JJ Redick or Otto Porter Jr. -- more than the veteran minimum, which could make a difference if a player is deciding between contenders.
Tradeable contracts; young players
In addition to picks and trade exceptions, the Sixers have several tradeable contracts. Green’s $15.3 million contract would be key in landing the bigger fish like Lowry or Oladipo. Scott ($5 million), Ferguson ($3.9 million) and Tony Bradley ($3.5 million) could be used along with Green or in smaller deals for bench upgrades.
While no player outside of Embiid or Simmons is untouchable, it would have to be quite the deal for the Sixers to consider moving either Shake Milton or Matisse Thybulle. Milton is already the team’s best reserve and Thybulle is the team’s second-best perimeter defender. Tyrese Maxey has a ton of promise. The Sixers would ideally like to hold on to their 2020 first-rounder, but if a deal for a player like Lowry requires him, it’s one they’d have to strongly consider.