76ers

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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This is fine — the Sixers' season is just crumbling before our eyes

This is fine — the Sixers' season is just crumbling before our eyes

Someone in the Sixers’ organization must’ve stepped on a broken mirror while walking under a ladder and petting a black cat.

This is fine.

We’re just watching the Sixers’ 2019-20 season crumble right before our eyes.

Some of this is horrendous luck. Some of this is of their own doing. In some cases, it’s a little of both.

Just a day after we found out Ben Simmons would be out for at least two weeks with nerve impingement in his lower back, Joel Embid was forced to leave Wednesday’s game in Cleveland with a shoulder sprain.

The team then went on to lose to a Cavs team that had won 16 games coming in, putting the Sixers at 9-21 on the road this season.

While we don’t know the full extent of Embiid’s injury, it doesn’t bode well. With Simmons already out, the Sixers need Embiid to be the dominant player that put up a career-high 49 points on Monday. If both players are on the shelf for an extended period, who knows how far this team could fall.

This is fine.

Thanks to the Miami Heat’s recent swoon, the Sixers remain just a half game out of the fourth spot with 23 games remaining. 

The fourth spot. The fourth spot.

This team was supposedly built for the playoffs and to conceivably win a championship. Their head coach boldly claimed he wanted the No. 1 seed. Instead, they may end up a fifth seed, meaning they’d start the playoffs on the road, where I’m sure their woes away from home will get sorted out — because that's the time you sort these things out, right?

Where’s the smash mouth offense and bully ball defense Brett Brown promised? The Sixers instead got smacked in the mouth away from the Wells Fargo Center yet again by a team playing out the string. 

This is fine.

The players who were supposed to complement Embiid and Simmons and pick up the slack for them when they were off the floor have not done so. The trio of Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson and Al Horford — that will make over $70 million combined this season — shot 12 of 35 Wednesday.

Second-year guard and 2018 second-round pick Shake Milton outplayed Harris and Richardson. Kyle O’Quinn, who makes the veteran minimum and hasn’t played meaningful minutes since Jan. 20, outplayed Horford. That can’t happen. That especially can’t happen when you’re missing your two All-Stars and playing the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In his first season here, Richardson has questioned his team's lack of effort, accountability and on Wednesday, its heart.

This is fine.

Maybe Embiid’s injury won’t be serious. Maybe Simmons’ absence won’t extend for too long beyond the two weeks. Maybe the five starters can figure it out and Harris, Richardson and Horford will be able to space the floor like GM Elton Brand thought they would. Maybe they can become a defensive bully yet.

Maybe.

"That still is my goal — keeping the boys in the boat, landing the plane, keeping our form, our health all that stuff — [keeping] our spirit the way that it needs to be," Brown said to reporters postgame. "We will move on from this. It’s a good thing we’re in the NBA. In 24 hours you’ve got a chance to move this aside and go try to find a way."

You figure the Sixers’ luck has to change at some point, but time is running out. This season is getting away from them.

This is fine.

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Josh Richardson thinks 'heart' is biggest thing Sixers must fix

Josh Richardson thinks 'heart' is biggest thing Sixers must fix

The Sixers, now 9-21 on the road this season after a 108-94 loss Wednesday night to the Cavaliers in which Joel Embiid sprained his left shoulder, clearly have many areas they need to address away from Wells Fargo Center.

But, when asked the biggest thing the team needs to correct before playing the Knicks on Thursday at home, Josh Richardson only needed one word.

“Heart,” he told reporters in Cleveland.

The 17-win Cavs shot 52.6 percent from the field and, at one point, had a 30-6 advantage in points in the paint. 

Shake Milton started again in place of Ben Simmons, who’s out with a nerve impingement in his lower back, and he was probably the Sixers’ best player, with a team-high 20 points, four rebounds, four assists and no turnovers.

Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Josh Richardson combined to shoot 12 for 35. Against a Cleveland team led by 21-year-old Collin Sexton (28 points), any one of those three players performing well in the absence of the Sixers’ two All-Stars might have been enough to help the team snap a six-game road losing streak.

“I think just our defense and just physicality was a C-minus,” Brett Brown said. “I think it was a C-minus. … I feel like when you don’t have Joel and you don’t have Ben, it’s an opportunity for others to put their hand[s] up and declare, ’This is who we are.’ And it is who we are, it’s who we have been. Tonight was not one of them. I really felt from that sort of physical standpoint, we were a C-minus.”

After the Sixers' last home loss, way back in December, Richardson had named effort as an issue. He’s been willing to call out concerns publicly in his first year with the team, and he initiated a players-only meeting earlier this month.

“I think it just starts with playing harder …  I think that’s a good problem to have to fix — there could be a lot worse things,” he’d said on Dec. 20. “I think if it starts there, then we’ll be working with something at that point.”

Good problems don’t exist anymore for the Sixers, who are fifth in the Eastern Conference with 23 regular-season games left and, just four games after the All-Star break, have seen both of their All-Stars suffer injuries.

Defensive execution and intensity have been common issues on the road, and they were exacerbated when Embiid left the game. 

“[Not] having such a big presence at the rim on defense to protect us whenever us guards make mistakes was kind of tough for us to deal with,” Milton said. “We didn't do a very good job of making the adjustments.”

Even when fully healthy, this was a team that often admitted they were still trying to figure things out and looking for answers. They didn’t have any without Embiid and Simmons in Cleveland. 

“I think it had a big impact,” Horford said of Embiid's injury. “Obviously we plan on playing through him and leaning on him a lot. Once he was out, I felt like we didn’t really know what next for our group.”

“Heart” is, of course, impossible to measure. The nagging, tangible concerns the Sixers do have —  injuries chief among them at the moment — are plenty to worry about by themselves. 

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