Shut up about the Tobias Harris trade: Look at it this way

In about a month, we may know which jersey Tobias Harris will wear on opening night of the 2019-20 NBA season. Harris, an unrestricted free agent, was acquired by the Philadelphia 76ers on February 6, 2019 along with Mike Scott and Boban Marjanovic.

In that trade, the Sixers sent Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, the Miami Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick, Philly’s own 2020 first-round pick (which is lottery protected from 2020 to 2022 and becomes 2023 and 2024 Philadelphia second rounders if it does not convey), and the Detroit Pistons’ 2021 and 2023 second-round picks.

The elephant in the room is that Philly may have sent all of that for nothing come July, when NBA free agency kicks into full gear; but that’s only if you look at it from a certain angle. More importantly, what did the 76ers actually give up? Before you start naming off the assets I just mentioned in the previous paragraph, take a minute and look back on how they were acquired. Again, what did the Sixers actually give up?

With the 26th pick of the 2018 NBA Draft…

Landry Shamet was a masterful find by then interim general manager Brett Brown. Shamet was slotted as a second-round pick in numerous mock drafts, and I personally remember seeing a who-the-hell-is-that-guy look on Sixers fans’ faces after the pick was announced. A little over eight months later, Shamet was the centerpiece of one of the largest trades of the 2018-19 NBA season.

The success rate of NBA players, drafted in the 20’s isn’t particularly inspiring, however every once in a while, you can make some magic happen. Speaking of Magic, that brings me back to that Anzejs Pasecniks trade (with the Orlando Magic). Pasecniks was taken at pick 25 by the 76ers and former general manager Bryan Colangelo. He has yet to play a game in the NBA.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was selected 24th in the 2016 NBA Draft, two selections before Furkan Korkmaz was also picked to join the 76ers. All three of the aforementioned players have yet to create an impact. Meanwhile, Pascal Siakam, selected one spot after Korkmaz, is one win away from being a key contributor to a potential Toronto Raptors NBA Title.

Without Landry Shamet, the Los Angeles Clippers would have never made that trade. Moving forward, he is a key piece on their team, mainly because Brett Brown nailed the 26th pick of the 2018 draft.

The unprotected Miami Heat first…

For a little less than a year, this draft pick was burning a hole in Brett Brown and Elton Brand’s pockets, shining ever so brightly. Let’s not forget how the Sixers ended up with that pick. All it took was a little ingenuity and creativity.

The 76ers were on the clock with the 10th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and after a few moments went by, the pick was in. Philadelphia selected Mikal Bridges, a well-known local kid and Villanova Wildcats star. The fit was there. The glee was there. Fans, the team, and even Bridges’ mother, an employee of the 76ers, were ecstatic.

Less than an hour later, he was wearing a Phoenix Suns hat. The Sixers sent him to the Suns for the 16th pick in the 2018 draft, along with that shiny 2021 Miami Heat first. With the 16th pick, the Sixers took Zhaire Smith. Brett Brown, who was and still is high on Smith, made it sound like they got their guy and he also managed to walk away with a trade chip.

Without the 2021 Miami Heat first round pick, the Los Angeles Clippers would have never made that trade. The Heat are aging, and we don’t know what that team will look like in the 2020-21 season, which makes that selection so valuable.

Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala…

On July 3, 2018, the Sixers acquired Wilson Chandler, the Denver Nuggets 2021 second round pick, and the right to swap second rounders in the 2022 draft in exchange for minimal cash considerations.

Less than a month later, on July 25, 2018, the Sixers acquired Mike Muscala in a three-team deal, sending Justin Anderson to the Atlanta Hawks and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

When you combine these two trades, the Sixers sent Anderson, Luwawu-Cabarrot (a reminder of how late first rounders don’t always pan out), and cash for Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler, Denver’s 2021 second, and a 2022 pick-swap option with Denver.

Luwawu-Cabarrot, once viewed as a solid prospect, was never able to take the next step with the 76ers, ultimately leading to his exit via trade. Justin Anderson was and will always be known as the guy the Sixers acquired (along with the heavily protected Dallas Mavericks first) in the Nerlens Noel trade.

Muscala and Chandler were used in the Tobias Harris trade to make salaries work, and in the end, the acquisitions of Mike Scott and Boban Marjanovic end up canceling one another out (although I would take Scott and Marjanovic over Muscala and Chandler any day of the week, but now is not the time to argue that).

Philadelphia’s 2020 protected first-round pick… and fine, the 2021 and 2023 Pistons second rounders…

The 76ers played the law of averages here. Again, it’s hard to strike gold in the 20’s, which is where the 2020 76ers first is projected to land. However, Elton Brand made sure that the 76ers did not allow this pick to ever become a lottery pick.

If the Sixers somehow don’t make the playoffs in either the 2020, 2021, or 2022 seasons, the pick is protected and becomes two seconds, one in 2023 and one in 2024. When this pick (or picks) does eventually convey, the law of averages says that it was damn worth it.

You have the opportunity to land Tobias Harris and a large asset in the trade is guaranteed to not be a lottery pick? You have to do it; and again, the Los Angeles Clippers do not make this trade if the Sixers don’t add this draft selection. Also, the ability to tack on two second rounders with the upside to be picks in the 30’s or 40’s is a nice cherry on top of any offer; and the 76ers have a ton of cherries left in the fridge.

Again, what did the 76ers actually give up?

It will be remembered that the 76ers traded a stud, three-point specialist in his rookie season, along with an extremely valuable future first-round draft pick, which happens to be unprotected, as well as ANOTHER first, with some protections wrapped in; not to mention Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala, who provided depth, which is something the 76ers lacked in the 2019 NBA Playoffs. That’s what the media will tell you. That’s what partial fans will say.

What did the 76ers actually give up?

The 76ers traded a late first, someone many fans never heard of before the 2018 NBA Draft. The 76ers traded a pick that they’d have never possessed if it was not for the creativity of Brett Brown on draft night. The 76ers traded a pick that can not convey to the Clippers unless it is pick 15 or worse. The 76ers traded Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala for Mike Scott and Boban Marjanovic.

The 76ers acquired Tobias Harris because Brett Brown and Elton Brand did one hell of a job leading this franchise in the 2018-19 season. Now, we wait on Tobias Harris to make up his mind. Just be sure to remember what the 76ers actually gave up.