November 16, 2023
We have officially reached the part of the NBA season during which trade rumors begin to swirl around. The hot name on the market right now is the Chicago Bulls' Zach LaVine, but there are plenty of other players who should be available and would make much more sense as trade targets for the Sixers.
Perhaps the Sixers' biggest hole right now is the backup point guard position, where their only option right now is Patrick Beverley. Beverley has his moments and can be a part of a good team, but he has disappointed so far this season and looks well below average on the offensive end of the floor. The team is almost desperate for another guard who can dribble, shoot and pass.
Enter Jones, synonymous with elite backup point guard play for years, who would be a perfect fit in that hole on the roster. Jones is currently starting for a rebuilding Wizards team, but as the trade deadline nears, one would imagine they will be taking calls on the 27-year old free agent-to-be. Jones' pristine point guard play — he sports the best assist-to-turnover ratio in NBA history, for example — would be a godsend for the Sixers, based on their first 11 games of the season.
No matter what Jones' role has been in his career, he has made the most of his opportunities. He has been an elite backup point guard, he has served admirably as a starter when needed, and plugging him into this Sixers roster would instantly make them a much, much better team.
While LaVine is getting most of the publicity, if Chicago indeed decides to blow things up, Caruso should be a much more enticing trade candidate for the Sixers.
Caruso is not a traditional point guard like a couple of the players later in this list, but he is more than capable of handling the ball and helping a team get into its sets.
Where he thrives, though, is on the defensive end of the floor, where his perimeter abilities may be greater than those of any player in the NBA right now. His situational awareness and instincts are truly second to none.
Offensively, Caruso is capable as both a ball-handler and shooter, though not particularly outstanding in either category. In a perfect world, the Sixers could add Caruso and a more traditional backup point guard, whether that is Jones, another player on this list or a cheaper option. In any case, adding Caruso to this team would bolster its perimeter defense in a massive way, allowing them to play some lineups with flat-out ridiculous defensive talent.
Hield has been a rumored Sixers target for several years now, as his name seems to find itself in the rumor mill every single season. Hield is not just a good shooter or a great shooter, he is an elite shooter — not just relative to the current NBA, but in NBA history. While that may sound extreme, the numbers back it up. For his career, Hield has made over 40 percent of his three-point tries on massive volume, averaging 7.5 three-point tries per game.
Hield was reportedly unhappy in Indiana after the two sides failed to agree to a contract extension, and Hield was moved to a bench role this season. One complication, though: the Pacers currently stand at 7-4 amid an impressive start led by star guard Tyrese Haliburton. If they continue to win games, they may keep Hield despite the lingering possibility that he could depart in free agency over the summer.
If the Pacers either cool down or elect to move Hield regardless, the Sixers should certainly get on the phone and make a call. Adding a shooter of Hield's caliber is a rare opportunity, and one that is enticing enough to be worth putting up with his defensive issues, as he is less than stellar on that end of the floor. Having a player like Hield would create an entirely new section of the playbook for head coach Nick Nurse, who could get creative in how he weaponizes one of the league's best three-point shooters.
Consider Morris a similar, but slightly cheaper alternative to Jones. Another traditional backup point guard, he has been one of the league's better reserve ball-handlers over the last few seasons, dating back to his time with the Denver Nuggets. He has yet to play for a rebuilding Pistons team that is ripe with young ball-handlers as he nurses a quad injury. He figures to be nearly a lock to get moved before the trade deadline.
Where Morris trails Jones is his ability as a creator for himself and others. Morris is capable of getting a bucket, certainly, and is a solid passer, but he separates himself with his three-point shooting ability. While Jones is decent from beyond the arc, Morris would be a better option if the Sixers are more focused on finding a point guard option who is also good at playing without the ball being in his hands. Morris is a career 39.2 percent three-point shooter on 3.1 attempts per game, very solid numbers for a backup ball-handler.
Paul Reed has done a fine job as the Sixers' backup center, and the team's rotation at the five has been excellent thanks to Joel Embiid playing in every game so far this season. Even with Embiid possibly in the best shape of his career, he is inevitably going to need games off, in which case the Sixers will be reliant on a third center. Right now that player is Mo Bamba, who had a lackluster preseason and hasn't logged a minute of non-garbage time play yet this season. Bamba may be serviceable, but if Embiid were to go down for any period of time, the Sixers would need to have extreme confidence in their next center.
However, it likely wouldn't be worth making a trade for a player who is essentially an insurance policy. So, if the Sixers want to add a third center, it should be someone who can also play at the four alongside Embiid or Reed.
This is where Olynyk comes into play. He has established himself as one of the most versatile offensive bigs in the league thanks to his shooting ability — Olynyk is a 37.2 percent three-point shooter on considerable volume over the last five seasons — and surprisingly excellent passing. Unless the opposing team is running a very small and athletic lineup, he is perfectly capable of playing the four, especially if he has an athlete like Reed or rim protector like Embiid by his side.
If the Sixers added Olynyk, they would kill more than two birds with one stone: they would add shooting, they would add size, they would add a creative passer and they would add a rock-solid insurance policy.