The Sixers are a contender. The Sixers are flawed. Both of those statements can be true at the same time. And as the game against Toronto showed, the Sixers’ biggest flaw is their lack of depth. Trading Saric and Covington for Butler inarguably improved the Sixers, but it created a gaping hole in the rotation. With Fultz, Smith, and Patton all out indefinitely for the time being, the Sixers can’t rely on internal reinforcements.
So what assets do the Sixers have to bring in depth? Fultz has to be considered untradeable until he completes his rehab. That doesn’t leave much else. I looked around the NBA and G-League to find three players at every position that could either be signed to the Sixers’ open roster spot or who could be acquired salary-wise for Justin Patton, Amir Johnson, Furkan Korkmaz, or Jonah Bolden along with picks. These players could be acquired for some seconds and/or cash, with a few exceptions.
Shabazz Napier (Brooklyn, 1.94M, 1.85M club option)
Brooklyn signed Napier to be their 3rd PG this season, which means he is eminently available. He’s been a 37% shooter from 3 the past three seasons and has legitimate NBA experience. Napier has little upside, but would be a steady 3rd PG if Fultz can’t play.
Tyus Jones (Minnesota, 2.44M, RFA)
The Wolves and Sixers have already made one mutually beneficial trade, why not a second? Jones has regressed this year as he is asked to play less point guard than ever. With Teague signed through next year and the Wolves more likely to commit long-term to 29 year old Derrick Rose (yeah, seriously, he’s only 29), Jones is an odd man out. At just 22, Jones has plenty of potential, though he may not have a long-term spot here either.
Jairus Lyles (G-League)
Lyles is actually the backup PG for Salt Lake City despite outplaying their starter by just about every metric. Lyles is probably best known for leading #16 UMBC over #1 Virginia this past March. His inclusion on this list is more an indication of how little PG talent is out there than anything else. Still, Lyles is a good shooter and capable distributor worth a 10 day look when those begin.
Rodney McGruder (Miami, 1.54M, RFA)
The Heat find themselves in an awkward place. They’re not good enough to be a contender and not bad enough to tank. They already have $66M in contracts next year, with about the same amount potentially being added if Whiteside, Johnson, and Dragic pick up their player options, which are all possible. McGruder is starting for them, so he’s the player on this list least likely to be moved, but with Miami already committed to Waiters, Richardson, and Winslow for at least 2 more seasons after this one, it’s at least in the realm of possibility that they listen to an offer. Whether it would be worth it for the Sixers to offer what it would take is a different question entirely.
Allonzo Trier (New York/2-way)
Despite being a 2-way player, Trier has played every game for the Knicks this season. He will be hitting the limit for active days for a 2-way player soon. There is reportedly some friction between him and the Knicks regarding a broken draft promise. The most likely situation here is that the Knicks sign him for the rest of the season. If they don’t, the Sixers should strongly pursue him.
Troy Daniels (Phoenix, 3.26M, UFA)
Daniels consistently offers elite shooting and little else. Daniels is a nice bench piece for any contender. I expect some playoff team to try to grab Daniels for cheap at the deadline – he’s worth it.
Justin Holiday (Chicago, 4.38M, UFA)
Holiday is the most expensive player on this list, but would still only take any two of the Sixers’ end of bench guys to match. Holiday can play SG or SF and would provide both more wing depth and a viable starting option should JJ or Jimmy be unable to go on a given night. As a 29 year old expiring on a going nowhere team, he can definitely be had and may even be worth re-signing this offseason.
Damyean Dotson (New York, 1.38M, 1.62M, RFA)
The 2017 second round pick has taken a nice step forward this year, establishing himself as a viable wing off the bench. It’s unlikely the Knicks commit to both Trier and Dotson with 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox, 2017 lottery pick Frank Ntilikina, and Tim Hardaway Jr. all vying for those same minutes, so one of them should be available at a reasonable price.
Rodney Hood (Cleveland, 3.47M, UFA)
Hood has regressed practically every year of his career, and this year is no different. The one thing he has consistently done is shoot the 3, and being able to play some PF as well helps his value. It’s possible he just needs a change of scenery, given that he’s only 26 years old, and he’s shown in the past that he has the ability to play at an NBA level. He would have to agree to a trade, but getting traded to a contender can only boost his value, so that should not be an issue.
Bobby Portis (Chicago, 2.49M, RFA)
Portis has missed most of this season but should be back in the next week or two. With Wendell Carter and Lauri Markkanen in the fold and Cristiano Feliciano already signed to be the third big, there’s no room or role left for Portis long term in Chicago. Portis emerged as a potential force last season. His ability to play man defense in a switching scheme would fit in well with what the Sixers do. His 36% 3P shooting is good enough to play on the floor with any of the Sixers’ other bigs. If he can prove himself healthy, Portis could be exactly the type of big man depth the Sixers need.
Anthony Bennett (G-League)
The former #1 overall pick has had a rocky road in his basketball life, which is what happens when you ride a jackhammer on it like Bennett has. Bennett has been an absolute force since returning to the G-League though. It appears the soon-to-be 26 year old may finally have had the light turn on. Bennett is the type of low risk, high upside player that is worth betting on, and if the Sixers don’t grab him soon, another team likely will.
Bruno Caboclo (G-League)
Famous for being 2 years away from being 2 years away, Bruno is trying to prove Fran Fraschilla’s proclamation correct. Just 23 years old, Bruno has been an absolute monster in the G-League this season. Thus far, he’s been putting up 20 points, 10 boards, 1.5 steals, and 3.4 blocks per 36 minutes on 50/40/77 shooting. Like Bennett, it’s a little surprising nobody has picked him up, because the way he’s playing indicates that he really just needed 4 years to develop to be ready for the big time. Another high upside player, I don’t expect him to last much longer in the G-League.
Bonzie Colson (G-League)
How much you like Colson depends on how much you like non-traditional players. Colson is a 6’5″, um, basketball player? He was one of college basketball’s most productive players but went undrafted after breaking his left foot twice in his senior season. He has picked up where he left off in the G-League, putting up numbers just a hair behind Bruno’s on similar shooting. Colson has typically played PF, but he has the ability to play three positions on both ends of the court. If positional flexibility is a factor, Colson is worth a look.
Khem Birch (Orlando, 1.38M, RFA)
Stuck as the 3rd center behind Vucevic and Bamba, Birch has not been given a chance to follow up on his successful 2017-2018 season. Birch is a center in the Nerlens Noel mold (but without demanding to be an offensive focal point). He may not be able to deal with the NBA’s biggest centers, but he provides a nice skillset that would fit very will with Muscala on the bench unit or in end of game defense situations.
Willy Hernangomez (Charlotte, 1.54M, 1.68M non-guaranteed, UFA)
The Hornets have been unable to settle on a center rotation this year, generally starting Cody Zeller and then cycling between Kaminsky, Hernangomez, and Biyombo as his primary backup. They have even been experimenting with lineups with no true center. With Kaminsky appearing to be ahead of Hernangomez at this point, he is likely available. At 6’11″ with a sweet shooting stroke, he simply provides more at this point than Amir does.
Lucas Nogueira (Spain)
Nogueira graded out as the league’s best backup center in limited minutes for two straight seasons based on his tremendous block and steal numbers while not being a huge drag on the offense. The Raptors were better with him on the court than with him off the court for three straight seasons. For reasons that remain unclear, he was unable to secure a guaranteed deal in the NBA. So across the ocean he went. Based on what I can find, he does have a buyout in his contract. He could be an impact bench piece down the stretch, and I would not be surprised if he came back over before the end of this season.