The NBA trade deadline is coming in hot.
Kristaps Porzingis was traded. Anthony Davis wants to be traded. The Grizzlies are open to trading their long-time core.
Then there are the Sixers, who we’ve barely heard a peep from since they made the boldest move of the NBA season in acquiring Jimmy Butler back on Nov. 12. That could be disappointing to fans, but in reality, it looks like the Sixers are playing it right.
The dust is settling from the Porzingis trade and a player like Wesley Matthews could be bought out and would be an excellent option for the Sixers (see story). If Davis is moved, that could affect multiple teams, depending on where the All-NBA big man is shipped. Same with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
Patience and flexibility are not sexy terms, but they make sense for the Sixers. There’s been nothing linking them to the Davis sweepstakes — which makes total sense — and there hasn’t been any link to Conley or Jrue Holiday or any other big name with a big contract.
That’s because Elton Brand made his splash move. The first-year GM made the organization’s biggest trade since Moses Malone. There’s no doubt Butler has made this team better and more playoff-ready against the East’s elite. It’s also clear that Butler and company need a little more help (see story).
But don’t be surprised when it’s someone like the Pistons' Reggie Bullock or the Hawks' Dewayne Dedmon as opposed to Holiday or Davis. You may be disappointed to read that, but you shouldn’t be. The Sixers have star power. It’s depth that will get them on par with the Bucks, Raptors and Celtics.
It’s understandable, then, to wonder why then they haven’t retained Corey Brewer. While Brewer became a cult hero for his efforts against James Harden, the Sixers have not re-signed him after his second 10-day deal expired. They’re essentially valuing an empty roster spot ahead of the deadline over retaining Brewer. There’s a chance no team signs Brewer ahead of the deadline, preferring the same flexibility. If he's out there after the deadline, the Sixers could look to bring him back.
Surely Brand placed calls on the bigger fish. That’s more than likely just due diligence, but things can change quickly, as they did with Butler. Even if the Sixers wanted to make another big splash, they likely don’t have the assets (see story) — unless there’s a team that really loved Markelle Fultz pre-draft that’s in dire straits for a young guard.
Making money match in the NBA is extremely difficult. The Sixers’ “best” contract to move would be Wilson Chandler’s expiring deal for a little under $13 million. The issue there is that any deal involving Chandler is a lateral one.
There’s been criticism of Chandler because his overall offensive game this season hasn’t been in line with his career output, but the 31-year-old combo forward has been a solid piece to the team’s starting five. His length, instincts, versatility and physicality have been a welcome addition defensively. And though he’s struggled with injuries and inconsistency on the other end of the floor, he’s still shooting 39 percent from three.
Other than Chandler, the Sixers have Fultz at a little over $8 million, but it doesn’t seem likely he’ll get moved — mostly because it’s hard to place a real value on him. The team just has four big contracts and a lot of small ones.
So instead of guaranteeing Brewer a roster spot for the rest of the season or trading a 20-year-old guard at his lowest value or trading away part of the team’s starting five, the Sixers are remaining patient and flexible.
And it’s the right move.
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