Looking at Sixers' assets ahead of the NBA trade deadline

Looking at Sixers' assets ahead of the NBA trade deadline

The trade deadline is a few days away and it’s been pretty quiet on the Sixers’ front. 

It makes sense in that general manager Elton Brand will likely only be looking to add complementary players with his three stars in place.

So, as Brand looks around for a veteran a player or two that could help his team reach their goals, what do the Sixers have to offer?

Let’s look at a few of their assets.

The Miami Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick

This pick is intriguing because 2021 seems kind of far away, but it’s already been moved multiple times. Placing value on it is difficult because of the weird spot the Heat are in.

They have some really horrendous contracts. By 2021, Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson will be off their books, but, unless they make a move with a trade or buyout, they’ll still be saddled with James Johnson ($16,047,100), Kelly Olynyk ($13,598,244), Justise Winslow ($13 million) and Dion Waiters ($12,650,000). At least three of those contracts already look bad in 2019.

But they’ll have enough space for one max deal and they do have Josh Richardson, who is signed to one of the most team-friendly contracts in the NBA. If Pat Riley, who is now 73, is still running things, he’s unlikely to tank.

The report that high school players still won’t be eligible for the draft by 2021 also hurts the Sixers. This pick certainly has value. How much may be in the eye of the beholder.

Markelle Fultz

This isn’t me saying they will or they should trade Fultz. In fact, quite the opposite.

There seems to be two camps of Sixers fans: The ones who still look at Fultz’s value as the No. 1 pick and the ones who just want the team to part ways with the 20-year-old. There is a whole mess of gray area in between. 

Fultz’s value will likely never be lower than it is at this moment. He hasn’t played since Nov. 19, when he was still struggling with his shot and was replaced by T.J. McConnell. That’s not to say he has no value at all.

The Sixers are likely better off hanging onto Fultz. Even if the team’s desire is to eventually move on, they’re much better off letting him get healthy and back on the court to establish more value.

His $9,745,200 cap hit next season will be tough to swallow if he isn’t contributing, but better than giving him away for next to nothing only for him to realize his potential elsewhere.

The young players

The Sixers have a few young players that could interest teams. Zhaire Smith, Justin Patton and Landey Shamet were all first-round picks and are under the age of 22. 

Smith is a player the Sixers traded for and obviously coveted. It would probably take a trade for a major piece for them to think about moving Smith, which seems unlikely. Same for Shamet, who’s played a pivotal role on the Sixers’ bench and has improved all season long.

Patton could be a different story. He’s the forgotten man of the Jimmy Butler trade and obviously wasn’t drafted by the Sixers, so it’s hard to assess how they value him. He has potential as an athletic, rim-running big, something a lot of teams could value. With Jonah Bolden playing well as the team's backup center, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Patton used in a deal as a sweetener or for salary matching purposes.

ALL the second-round picks

The Sixers still have a ton of second-round picks outside of their own:

2019 from Chicago

2019 from Milwaukee or Sacramento (more favorable)

2020 from Brooklyn or New York (more favorable)

2020 from Dallas

2021 from Denver

2021 from Detroit

2021 from New York

2023 from Detroit

Long live Sam Hinkie.

These picks don’t have a ton of value, but they’re something. Especially for a trade involving a veteran player on an expiring deal for a bad team. Teams will be happy to recoup something as opposed to just letting a player walk in free agency.

*The contract figures mentioned are per Spotrac.

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Why Josh Richardson should be the Sixers' backup point guard

Why Josh Richardson should be the Sixers' backup point guard

The Sixers brought in veterans Trey Burke and Raul Neto to compete for the backup point guard role. Brett Brown has made sure to note that second-year guard Shake Milton is also in the mix.

How’s the saying go? Plans are worthless, but planning is everything?

Yeah, that applies here.

Elton Brand did well to fortify the backup point guard position this summer, but Josh Richardson should ultimately back up Ben Simmons this season.

They certainly haven't performed poorly, but Burke, Neto and Milton haven't stood out through three preseason games. Brown has been hesitant to go there, saying that he wants the competition for the role to play out, but on Sunday night in Orlando, he unfurled a rotation featuring Richardson as the primary ball handler with the second unit.

And Richardson produced, recording five assists to just one turnover and was a team-high plus-23 in 26 minutes. It’s a role he’s familiar with, having done it a decent amount last season in Miami and his senior season at Tennessee.

“My main focus this season is trying to keep my mindset aggressive on both ends of the floor and do whatever I need to give us the best chance to win,” Richardson said to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Serena Winters, “and yes, I'm fine with leading that second unit and keeping guys organized, keeping that aggression high.”

During the 2018-19 season, he posted his highest usage rate (20.9), PER (14.0), assist percentage (17.9) and his lowest turnover percentage (9.1). He’s an ascending player who’s become more comfortable initiating offense at the NBA level.

Richardson was acquired in the sign-and-trade with the Heat for Jimmy Butler and he’ll also take JJ Redick’s spot in the starting lineup. He’s not trying to be either player — "I'm not coming in here trying to be Jimmy Redick,” Richardson joked after the Blue x White Scrimmage — but he will fill a lot of their duties.

Richardson was used in dribble handoffs often in Miami and finished 10th in the NBA in points per possession on DHOs. That had been a staple of the Sixers’ offense with Joel Embiid and Redick. The two-man game with that duo was lethal. While Richardson won’t offer the same level of shooting, he’s not a slouch in that department — he’s shot 38.9 percent from three in three preseason games. He also adds a more dynamic element with his athleticism and passing ability.

“It’s different, but Josh brings something different,” Embiid said after the first day of training camp. “Obviously JJ with the crazy shots and off-balance threes and all that stuff, but we’ve got Josh, who’s more athletic than JJ, especially when it comes to back cutting, throwing lobs and him just turning the corner and attacking the defender. I think in that sense, he can do that better than JJ.”

And while he may not be trying to replicate what Butler did during his short time in Philadelphia, Richardson can fill a similar role. When Simmons struggled, Butler took over as the team’s primary ball handler. Butler excelled — and obviously enjoyed — being the ball handler in pick-and-rolls. Again, it's another aspect of the game offensively Richardson shined in with the Heat.

Brown’s rotation has remained similar in his time where he generally never goes to an entire second unit. For the most part, Brown likes to have two starters on the floor at all times. Judging by this preseason, you shouldn’t expect that to change. Given that, it appears Richardson’s minutes will always coincide with Embiid’s.

All of this and we haven't even mentioned Richardson's defensive role and prowess. He'll be tasked with guarding opposing ones with the starting unit this season. Quicker guards like Kemba Walker and Spencer Dinwiddie gave the Sixers fits last season. It’ll be Richardson’s job to remedy that — one he has an excellent chance of fulfilling thanks to his length and athleticism. At 6-foot-5, it's also quite an advantage for Richardson to be the shortest player on the floor for the Sixers.

Add it all up and Richardson seems like an indispensable part of the Sixers’ immensely talented starting five.

“I think Josh is almost kind of the secret — as important as any mortar,” Brown said at his annual luncheon before camp began. “He just holds us together. He really has a chance to hold us together.”

It wasn’t necessarily the plan for Josh Richardson to be the Sixers’ backup point guard, but here we are.

And it’s just another example of the critical role(s) he’ll play this season.

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Nike knock-offs and 'Jesus Shoes' — the strange and fickle sneaker world

Nike knock-offs and 'Jesus Shoes' — the strange and fickle sneaker world

The sneaker world can be a strange and fickle place. One minute you’re plunking down beaucoup bucks for the shoes you’ve been saving for, the next minute you find out your prized kicks are actually knock-offs from the black market.

Image credit: NBC News

Hey, it happens more often than you think. That scenario unfolded just this past week when almost 15,000 pairs of fake Nikes didn’t make it through customs at LA/Long Beach Seaport! A smooth $2 million plus of fake Off-White Jordan 1’s, Jordan 12’s, Jordan 11’s and Air Max ’97’s, all shipped from China in two containers labeled napkins.

You would probably need two containers of napkins to dry your tears if you put up a stack and a half for a pair of shoes that turned out to be just some Bobos with a fake swoosh. Ugh.

On the flip side, even when you are at an authentic retailer or website — deftly prepared with your credit card information at the ready, not even a freshly refreshed website is the right formula to bring home the shoes you’ve been plotting on for weeks, months or even years.

Image credit: Jesus Shoes Lookbook

Take, for instance, the $3,000 “Jesus Shoes” Brooklyn-based MSCHF put out last Tuesday, which sold out in mere minutes. The designers bought less than two dozen pairs of white Air Max 97’s for retail price, then transformed them by adding holy water blessed from the Jordan River (with some dye added to make the color more vibrant) in the sole of the shoe. They inscribed a Bible scripture in the side (Matthew 14:25, which chronicles Jesus walking on water) and added a mock blood drop on the tongue of the shoe to signify the blood of Christ. Not to mention, a crucifix interspliced through the laces, a red sole to mimic the red shoes worn by many popes and some type of frankincense accent. Crazy.

I personally have about a $200 budget on any pair of sneakers, so you won’t see me paying for wheels that go above $220 retail. Good luck to all of you who back up the Brinks truck for those crispy grails and the hypebeasts who live on the resale market and buy out releases in minutes.

May your toe box never crease and your laces stay clean.

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