July 14, 2023
You may have read, heard, or watched one of about 3,000 reports regarding James Harden's future in Philadelphia. That's no shade to anybody trying to dig into the story, as Harden is by far the biggest domino for Philadelphia's offseason. But the news has been the same day after day, report after report. Harden still wants out, the Sixers still won't trade him for peanuts, around and around we go.
The uncertainty of the Harden situation does have real consequences for Philly's current maneuvering, of course. All intel (and basic logic) suggests the Sixers could be taking back multiple players and their respective contracts in a potential Harden deal, putting them in a situation where spending money and filling up roster spots could complicate a trade. And that's without factoring Harden's ability to draw players as a recruiter — Patrick Beverley said earlier this week that part of his decision to come to Philly was based on Harden being here.
In other words, the Sixers aren't likely to shop much beyond the minimum tier of players, leaving them with limited options in a market already limited by the shrinking pool of players. So who is still out there that is worth considering? Let's take a look around.
Basically every big man, but Christian Wood especially
I'm sure you've noticed, but the Sixers currently have four centers on the roster and are threatening to roster a fifth depending on what happens with Filip Petrusev. Nick Nurse indicated that Petrusev would be on the roster during a recent interview, so make what you will of that.
As you might expect, there are plenty of well-known bigs still available on the market, with most teams reluctant to spend much of anything on the center position beyond whatever they give a trusted starter. There are some stretch big options (Frank Kaminsky), shot blockers (old friend Nerlens Noel), and vets who are probably going to struggle to claim a roster spot (a la Dewayne Dedmon, DeMarcus Cousins, and others). The Sixers aren't in need of players like those, having brought back Paul Reed while adding Mo Bamba as a stretch option.
Christian Wood has been a rumored Lakers target for quite a bit now, but he's the only big man whose production warrants even a cursory thought at this point. Wood is an efficient scorer as a jump-shooting big with the ability to space the floor out to the three-point line, though he's a guy who has struggled to win almost anywhere he has played. There are real questions about his motor and defensive effort, and Wood is not viewed as a player who handles competitive situations well, grumbling about touches and minutes whenever he has had any sort of restriction put on him.
Theoretically, if you could sign him for the TPMLE, it might just be too cheap of a deal to turn down even with the fit issues, but the odds of getting him at that number and bought into a small role are minuscule. Not worth another thought.
Small and/or defensively-challenged guards
Thank you but no thank you to the idea of adding, say Ryan Arcidiacono or Ish Smith or Raul Neto or...you get the idea. The Sixers need more size in the backcourt, not less, even if they could use some creative help if Harden leaves.
If you are a believer in Nowell's 2021-22 season as a sign of what he could be, scooping him up at the nadir of his value could pay dividends. Nowell shot the ball well for two years in college, is a good free-throw shooter (just under 80 percent), and has a year of nearly 40 percent shooting in the NBA under his belt. But his overall three-point numbers are rough overall, and if he doesn't hit shots, he's a microwave scorer without floor-spacing juice. He could replicate some of what Shake Milton did for Philly, but he's not much of a playmaker and Minnesota decided they'd rather have Milton than Nowell.
(Also, Nowell is not really a "wing" and doesn't have great size for a two-guard, at roughly 6'4" with a 6'7" wingspan. For reference, Milton had a seven-foot wingspan, which at least gave him some length to use at the top of a zone.)
This is sort of how I feel about Kelly Oubre as a prominent rotation player:
But we've seen him across a variety of situations at this point, and Oubre is who he is — a wing who doesn't really pass, doesn't shoot the ball well, and doesn't positively impact winning in any noticeable way. He has been the same guy on rebuilding teams as he was when he was a role player for the Warriors, the only real difference being touches.
If you think the Sixers need a wing with size at basically all costs, take a swing on Oubre. Just don't expect him to be anything other than himself.
Winslow is his own version of the Tobias Funke meme seen above, in the sense that he's always hurt and you're simply betting that you have the team he'll finally stay healthy on. He had some impressive defensive seasons in Miami with decent three-point splits to boot, but he has played an average of 28.5 games per season over the last four years.
Another "barely plays due to injury" guy for the last three years, and he kind of looks cooked after missing the entirety of the 2021-22 season.
The forever-future Sixers wing and occasional Sixers killer has struggled to consistently make shots for most of his career and has tailed off quite a bit the last couple of seasons.
While a sturdier defensive presence than some of the other options listed here and a player with actual wing size, JTA has had precisely one good shooting season in four years and would cramp spacing for a group that needs as much as it can get.
Hey, who doesn't love a good reunion? Green was already fading before he left and before he suffered a gruesome injury in Philly's series loss to the Heat, but he will still make standstill threes, which is more than you can say about a lot of these guys.
Gang, the options are not exciting and you truly do need to wait on a Harden trade (or non-trade) for something interesting to happen. Unless the Sixers decide to get creative and move one of their current role players for a different piece, the market is not exactly bursting with talent.
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