GM Elton Brand used considerable assets last season in acquiring Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. He then used significant financial resources to re-sign Harris and steal Al Horford away from the Celtics.
Ahead of Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, there seemed to be concern among national pundits that the Sixers simply didn’t have enough assets to make any deals of consequence.
With that in mind, Brand did quite well in acquiring wings Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III from the Warriors in exchange for three second-round picks (see story) — none of which originally belonged to the Sixers.
From a value standpoint, the trade is an absolute home run.
Both Burks and Robinson are having career years and should slide easily into Brett Brown’s rotation. Both have a strong chance to factor into the team’s top eight come playoff time for a bench that currently ranks 28th in scoring. Both are shooting above league average from three — 40 percent for Robinson, 37.5 for Burks — for a team that’s 21st in three-point percentage.
As for what the Sixers gave up, Brand didn’t have to surrender a rotational player or a future first-rounder or even a premium second-rounder. Their most valuable second-round pick (Atlanta’s 2020) could still be in play for a separate deal. It’s also fair to note that the Sixers traded all but one of their second-rounders in 2019 as Brand chose roster and financial flexibility over drafting several players. This is a much better use for those resources.
The second-rounders they did give up were Dallas' in 2020, Denver's in 2021 and Toronto's in 2022, according to a team source. People mocked former GM Sam Hinkie's strategy of hoarding second-rounders, but Brand sort of continuing that tradition was a big help Thursday.
Though he didn't acquire the Mavericks' pick (Nerlens Noel trade) and Nuggets' pick (Wilson Chandler trade), Brand got the Toronto pick — along with Malachi Richardson, who the team soon cut, and the rights to Emir Preldzic, who actually is never coming over — for cash considerations. The point being, as inconsequential as those picks may appear, they could have value down the road.
And speaking of financial flexibility, both Burks and Robinson were signed to one-year veteran minimum deals this past offseason. That made it easy for the Sixers in the sense that they didn’t have to match salary. Since both are free agents at the end of the year, it also provides Brand options.
Brand wasn’t going to blow up the foundation of his team. It’s far too early to give up on Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons playing together. The All-Star duo are still just 25 and 23, respectively. Harris and Horford are going to be two of Brand’s defining moves. While neither has quite lived up to their lucrative contracts, it was hard to imagine Brand giving up on either of them so quickly. As for Josh Richardson, his skillset — when healthy — has been a huge boost for the Sixers.
It’s not a deal that would’ve moved the needle like trading for a Derrick Rose, Bogdan Bogdanovic or Davis Bertans, but it represents tremendous value.
Considering what Brand had to work with, it’s a job very well done.
Tune in to the NBA Trade Deadline Show on the NBC Sports MyTeams app Thursday at 2:30 for analysis of all the important moves around the NBA.