The Sixers underperformed during the 2019-20 season. A team that had its eyes on the No. 1 seed will likely be the sixth seed if/when the NBA playoffs happen.
With so much time on our hands because of the coronavirus pandemic, we all can’t help but ponder ways to improve the team. So, let’s have a little fun with it, shall we?
Here are six trade targets — some realistic, some a pipe dream — that would improve the Sixers next season:
*Note: All the trade targets were picked with the idea of building around both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
1. Devin Booker
Well, we have a feeling Simmons would be OK with this. There may not be a player that would be a better fit in the entire NBA with Simmons and Embiid than Booker. The Sixers desperately need shot creators and shot makers. Booker checks both boxes at an elite level.
Why it could happen: I’m not so sure it could, but Booker is just 23 years old, perfectly fitting the timeline of the Sixers’ All-Star duo. The Sixers have two contracts that could help facilitate the deal in Tobias Harris or Al Horford.
Why it won’t happen: It’s tough to imagine the Suns dealing Booker. He’s shown no signs that he’s unhappy. He is the man in Phoenix and the type of player you build a franchise around. Also, if you’re Suns GM James Jones and Elton Brand asks about a possible trade for Booker, there’s no way you’re not asking for Simmons or Embiid.
2. CJ McCollum
Like Booker, McCollum checks off a couple huge boxes as both a shot creator and maker. He doesn’t fit the timeline as well at 28 but would still make for an excellent fit next to Simmons and Embiid.
Why it could happen: Portland has had its moments with Damian Lillard and McCollum, but outside of a Western Conference Finals appearance in 2019, the duo hasn’t gone on a long playoff run. With both players close to 30, it’s fair to wonder if the Blazers will look to move in a different direction.
Why it won’t happen: Despite articles like this one, there’s been no indication that the Blazers are eager to split their guard duo up. Both players appear to like playing with each other and are beloved in Portland. Both are signed through the 2023-24 season and chances are the organization looks to improve the team around them — much like the Sixers should be doing with Simmons and Embiid.
3. Buddy Hield
Hield is a sharpshooter. Similar to JJ Redick, who enjoyed two of the best seasons of his career here, Hield excels at coming off screens and in dribble handoffs and will pull up from anywhere.
Why it could happen: Imagine a younger, longer and more athletic version of Redick in the Sixers’ starting five. Hield was taken out of the Kings’ starting lineup back in January for Bogan Bogdanovic, a player the Kings would reportedly like to bring back as a restricted free agent this summer. There were also reports that Sacramento had planned to make a “massive” offer to Horford before he signed with the Sixers. The pieces could conceivably be there.
Why it won’t happen: We all watched Horford play this year. He simply hasn’t looked like the same player that tortured the Sixers for years in Boston. Perhaps the Kings see it as an issue of fit and believe the 33-year-old could help their young bigs and play alongside them. Still, it will take more than just Horford to get it done.
4. Spencer Dinwiddie
If you judged Dinwiddie on just his games against the Sixers, you’d think he’s the best guard in the league. Though Dinwiddie possesses excellent shot creation ability, his inconsistent shooting may not make him a perfect fit, but he could play in lineups with and without Simmons. That duo would be a nightmare in pick-and-rolls.
Why it could happen: There are only so many shots to go around once Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant return for Brooklyn next season. Dinwiddie has excelled in a ball-dominant role and it’s hard to imagine that being the case in lineups with Irving and Durant.
Why it won’t happen: Dinwiddie was one of the players that recruited Irving and Durant. Brooklyn was also the organization that gave Dinwiddie a shot when other teams passed him over at the beginning of his career. Perhaps Josh Richardson would be a good fit next to Irving and Durant, but that 1-for-1 swap seems unlikely.
5. Jrue Holiday
Bringing Holiday home does make sense on a couple fronts. Like Dinwiddie, he has the skillset to play with and back up Simmons. Holiday has also emerged as one of the best defensive guards in the NBA. He and Simmons on the perimeter with Embiid protecting the rim would make the Sixers the defensive bully they desire.
Why it could happen: There’s a clear youth movement happening in New Orleans. There was a thought that the Pelicans could challenge for a playoff spot — which might have been possible in a normal season — but going forward, it’s all about building this team around Zion Williamson. New Orleans could be interested in young players and/or draft picks for Holiday.
Why it won’t happen: The Pelicans are under no pressure to move Holiday. He’s happy and under contract for at least one more season with a player option the following year. He’s also a leader and a great teammate who could help usher in a winning culture around the team’s young pieces. It’s also fair to wonder how a trade would work financially.
6. Zach LaVine
Danny Pommells threw out LaVine’s name on the Sixers Talk podcast. LaVine does fit the profile of the shot creator/shot maker the Sixers need. He was almost an All-Star this season and is only 25.
Why it could happen: LaVine is very good, but he may not be the guy Chicago chooses to build its franchise around under new executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas. While LaVine is still fairly young, he’ll be a free agent after the 2021-22 season. Chicago may not be willing to give LaVine a max extension at that point.
Why it won’t happen: Much like with Booker, LaVine is the star in Chicago and is well liked by the fan base. He’s had his issues with head coach Jim Boylen, but there’s a chance Boylen won’t be back next year under this new regime. From the Sixers’ perspective, it’s hard to gauge what would be fair value for a player like LaVine while also finding salaries that match.
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