There’s never a dull moment with the Sixers when it comes to the NBA Draft.
Whether it’s trading up to select Markelle Fultz with the 1st overall pick, basically trading Mikal Bridges for Zhaire Smith, or reconstructing the entire team in one night. With the Sixers failing to surpass the Eastern Conference Semifinals once more, some roster changes are inevitable. Likewise, tonight’s draft seems to be trending in an eventful direction similar to the 2020 draft where Daryl Morey transformed Philly in a 3 hour period.
The Sixers are heading into this newborn offseason with the 23rd overall pick and zero changes made to the roster. However, if Morey is known for one thing in this league, it’s making pivotal changes to his team at any cost. The past few days rumors have spread like wildfires throughout the entire association, especially in the Sixers realm. There’s a likely chance that Philadelphia’s roster will undergo a few changes tomorrow with all the noise surrounding them.
The 23rd Pick
With all of these enticing trade rumors, it’s easy to forget that the Sixers could possibly make a selection with their 23rd overall pick. If they were to keep their pick, there’s certainly some intriguing players out there, which I wrote about in my previous article. Over the past few weeks, Philadelphia has worked out numerous draft prospects. Specifically, Baylor’s Kendall Brown (SF), Saint Joes’ Jordan Hall (SF), Alabama’s Keon Ellis (SG), Delaware’s Kevin Anderson (PG), UNLV’s Bryce Hamilton (SG), and Providence’s A.J. Reeves (SG).
Most importantly, the Sixers worked out shooting guard Jaden Hardy from the G-League Ignite squad. The young guard’s name is linked to Philadelphia more each day from the fanbase itself to various mock drafts from multiple news outlets. Hardy’s versatile scoring paired with his elite perimeter shooting make him a sound fit. Statistically, his efficiency leaves much to be desired as he shot 35.1% from the field and 6.5% from three, albeit on 6.5 attempted threes per game. Overall, Hardy averaged 17.7 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game, 3.2 assists per game, and 3.5 turnovers per game.
According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Hardy visited Philly’s training facility in Camden on Monday. He further added that Hardy was a standout in the workout who shot the ball well and appeared to be in good shape. Pompey also stated that Joel Embiid, Doc Rivers, Daryl Morey, and Elton Brand were all in attendance. Hardy himself said he’d fit right in: “Being able to play alongside James Harden and Tyrese Maxey and being able to learn from those guys, I feel like I will fit great” (via Pompey).
Above all, everyone anticipates the Sixers to make a trade of some sort in the midst of tonight’s draft. The question is for who and would Morey package their 23rd overall player pick with a player? Philadelphia is obviously in win-now mode, so any trade they’d make would bring back a rotational player. The Sixers biggest need is bench depth for practically every position besides power forward. Philly’s weak second unit was a devastating factor in their doom against the Miami Heat. The Sixers currently are in need of wings, a reliable backup center, a veteran guard, and even a “dawg” type of player as Patrick Beverly would say.
The only three players that appear to be untouchable are Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and James Harden (pending his contract extension). Besides them, each player’s name has come up in recent trade rumors one way or another. Keith Pompey reported that the Sixers are shopping around Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz, Danny Green, and their 23rd pick.
As soon as Tobias Harris signed the dotted line of his 5-year/$180 million contract, he was already getting thrown into the trade machine. If you were to describe Tobias’ tenure in Philadelphia, shaky or mentally unstable would both be accurate. Due to Harris’ superstar-like contract, fans have judged him very harshly, which has resulted in some in-arena drama over the years. Regardless, Harris had a near all-star worthy regular season campaign in 2021, which put him in favor with Philly fans. This past season, Tobias had his ups and downs, but prevailed during the back end of the regular season and in the playoffs. Harris developed into an above average catch-and-shoot player in a James Harden-Embiid led offense.
If Tobias didn’t have such a hefty salary, his name wouldn’t be as mentioned in hypothetical salary-dumping trades. In reality, another team taking on Harris’ salary in a trade seems unlikely, especially this early in the off-season. As the only teams with such cap space to do this are lottery teams whose ceilings wouldn’t raise with such an expensive trade.
Despite his lovable personality, Matisse Thybulle is on his last leg with Philadelphia fans and for good reason. Throughout his three years in the NBA, Thybulle has been a defensive star with his elite perimeter defense and switchability. At only 24 years old, Matisse has earned two All-Defensive selections as a reward for his elite defensive efforts. The problem is that he’s at times a complete non-factor offensively. Since he came in the league, Thybulle hasn’t made any improvements to his perimeter shooting nor his scoring. Teams played off of him to double Embiid in the paint due to Thybulle’s one-sided value. His choice to remain unvaccinated during Philadelphia’s first round matchup against the Toronto Raptors resulted in him being unable to play in Toronto. That mixed with his negative offensive impact this postseason did not sit well with anyone. The Sixers need wings who can play both ends of the floor and space the floor for Embiid’s post touches and Harden’s drives.
With that being said, Matisse may need to be shipped elsewhere for a player of that caliber. Thybulle’s trade value by himself is unclear. However, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN joked that if your team hasn’t received an offer including Thybulle and the 23rd pick “you probably have had your phone shut off.” If Matisse were to be packaged with the 23rd pick, the Sixers could get a rotational player in return depending on who you’re trading with.
Woj on ESPN’s mock draft just now:— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) June 22, 2022
If you’re a GM who hasn’t gotten an offer from the Sixers involving pick No. 23 and Matisse Thybulle, “You probably have had your phone shut off”
Shake Milton’s future with Philadelphia seems relatively safe, despite an underwhelming performance this past season. Milton averaged 8.2 points per game last season, which is 4.8 less points than he averaged in the 2021 season (13.0 points). To be fair, Shake was dealt a rough hand of cards throughout the season. Like the majority of the league, Milton got COVID-19 and spent some time in Health and Safety Protocols. On top of that, Shake suffered a back contusion and went on to miss 17 consecutive games.
Regardless, Milton’s score-first tendencies leave the Sixers desiring a reserve point guard who can facilitate and command the offense. Milton is a natural shooting guard who’s playing a role that doesn’t suit him. Still, Milton has a very cap-friendly team option worth $1.9 million that the Sixers intend to pick up (via Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype). It remains to be seen if Shake will be used as a sweetener in a future trade or if he’ll just give the Sixers a deeper bench.
Sources: The Philadelphia 76ers are expected to exercise their $2 million team option on guard Shake Milton for the 2022-23 season, @hoopshype has learned.— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) June 15, 2022
To put it best, Furkan Korkmaz is a luxury to have on the floor when his shots are falling. But when he’s cold, the turkish swingman is borderline unplayable. Furkan is a negative on the defensive end and lacks any form of shot creation besides an unreliable floater. Due to COVID issues within the team and lack of guard depth, Korkmaz had to be the backup point guard at times. These stretches often led to opposing team runs and a stagnant offense.
This past season, Furkan averaged 7.6 points per game on career-low 28.9% from beyond the arc. Korkmaz is set to make $5 million this upcoming season, which could prove useful in a trade package. Furkan most likely doesn’t have much significant trade value individually, so if he’s dealt it’ll be in a packaged deal.
Danny Green’s tenure in Philadelphia could be coming to an extremely unfortunate end soon. Earlier this month, Kevin O’Conner of The Ringer reported that the Sixers are exploring trades with Danny Green and the 23rd pick. These trade rumors wouldn’t be as hyped up as they are if Green didn’t suffer a season-altering injury. During Game 6 of Philly’s series against the Miami Heat, Embiid crashed into Green’s leg and he was immediately sidelined the rest of the game.
Prior to this, Green was their best 3-and-D player who had veteran experience and started throughout the playoffs. Regardless, it was announced that Danny suffered a torn ACL and expected to be in rehab for a while. ACL injuries are never good, but considering Green’s 35 years old, this may be devastating. With Danny expected to miss significant time the writing is on the wall. Green’s 2023 salary worth $10 million will be fully guaranteed on July 1st. Due to this, Danny is likely to be included in any package the Sixers may put together tonight.
Remember that one Spongebob episode where Patrick suggested moving Bikini Bottom and pushing it somewhere else? Well, that’s what Daryl Morey seems to be doing with the Houston Rockets. From executive Tad Brown to James Harden, former Houston personnel continue to make their way to Philly. Funny enough, the two players who are heavily being tied to the Sixers are Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker. Both players were teammates with Harden throughout his 2019 MVP season and were critical to their deep playoff run. Now, Morey hopes to acquire at least one of them through a direct trade or trades to clear cap for Tucker.
Being the last veteran from the Harden days of the Houston Rockets, Eric Gordon’s name has been in trade rumors for the last few years. Houston is a lottery team with an exciting young backcourt of Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green. However, they’re far from contenders and aren’t looking to compete right now. So, trading a veteran who’s set to make $19.5 million dollars next year makes sense for both parties. Despite an injury-riddled season, Gordon was very productive as he averaged 13.4 points per game and shot 41.2% from beyond the arc. Gordon’s veteran experience, scoring, and elite floor spacing would be perfect for the Sixers. To put it short, Eric Gordon in Philly would be “sweets to see”.
Throughout this week, Keith Pompey and Brian Windhorst of ESPN both confirmed Philadelphia’s interest in Eric Gordon. With Matisse Thybulle, Danny Green, and Philly’s 23rd pick all at play, a Gordon trade isn’t outside the realm of possibility. However, Windhorst also said the Suns are interested in trading for Gordon as well. You combine that with Morey’s soured relationship with Houstn and the odds don’t seem to be in Philadelphia’s favor.
Brian Windhorst on ESPN2:— Aidan Doc🧸 (@AidanDoc_) June 21, 2022
“Couple teams I’ve heard interested (Eric Gordon) is the Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns”
“Philadelphia also in the mix for PJ Tucker”
Our King. pic.twitter.com/sw2NhuFu4W
Following Philly’s Game 6 loss to Miami, Joel Embiid told the media that the Sixers need a PJ Tucker kind of player. So, why not get PJ Tucker himself? Tucker was a vital part in two significant playoff runs in the last two seasons. In 2021, he was a part of that Milwaukee Bucks championship team and was most famous for his beef with Kevin Durant in the second round. This past year, he helped Miami get to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Tucker would certainly instill some much-needed mental toughness into a Sixers team that practically gave up on themselves after Game 4. On top of that, PJ is a versatile player that can play forward and a small-ball five. Tucker’s a versatile defender who can guard multiple positions. Offensively, he can space the floor and operate in various motion sets as we saw Miami involve him in their split action schemes.
A few days ago, Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news that Tucker will opt out of his $7.4 million player option to test free agency. Along with Philly, multiple contending teams will definitely be very interested in signing PJ in free agency. However, according to Keith Pompey and Marc Stein, there’s mutual interest between Tucker and the Sixers. Pompey further reported that Philadelphia intends to offer the veteran a 3-year/$30 million deal.
In order for that to happen, the Sixers would need to clear up cap space, so they could use the non-taxpayer MLE. So, shopping Danny Green, Matisse Thybulle, and Furkan Korkmaz makes sense if they’re going this route. If the Sixers make a trade tonight, it could be part of Morey’s plan to free up cap space. Regardless, Philadelphia will not be the only team desperate to get their hands on Tucker.
Miami’s PJ Tucker will opt out of his $7.4 million player option for the 2022-23 season and enter free agency, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Several championship contending teams are expected to compete for Tucker, who was a key part of Milwaukee’s title run in 2021.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 20, 2022