February 09, 2023
The Sixers are on the other side of the 2023 trade deadline, and all they’ve come away with is Jalen McDaniels and an extra second-round pick. It was not what fans were hoping for during a firework-filled deadline, but it was about what was expected based on intel from around the league (and from Daryl Morey himself, as he relayed to PhillyVoice prior to the deadline).
That being said, there looks to be a healthy buyout market ahead, with a number of notable veteran players either staying on or moving to rebuilding teams. With an open roster spot and room under the luxury tax to bring somebody in consequence-free, here’s a look at some archetypes they could shop for.
(Of note: outside of the player who is already a free agent, I cannot promise any of these guys will become available, let alone sign with the Sixers.)
McDaniels replacing Thybulle gives the Sixers a more reliable offensive player in the bench role Thybulle played, though they are different players in who they tend to guard. Thybulle was a better option against guards, while the bigger McDaniels should help Philadelphia against true wings and forwards.
That leaves an opening for Philadelphia to go after more of a 2/3 type on the buyout market. They’re not likely to find someone who is going to chase point guards around the floor, but they could use a more defensive option in the minutes where Philadelphia plays Shake Milton alongside Tyrese Maxey on the second unit.
Potential targets: Danny Green, Will Barton
Some of you are going to be absolutely livid at the Green suggestion, but stay with me for a second.
In a bench role, Green is a perfectly reasonable rotation player even as he works his way back from last year’s knee injury in the playoffs. Green was one of Philadelphia’s only willing shooters over a two-year period before his injury, and though his hot-and-cold nature infuriated some fans, his unwavering confidence is a useful trait to have for a vet coming off of the bench. And Green is the sort of player who fits perfectly alongside Embiid (which we’ve seen work in practice) and Harden (who loves a good corner shooter in the lineup at all times).
Acquiring Green would also be (as far as I can tell) a piece of history. The Sixers signing Green as a free agent within a year of trading him is only legally possible because Green was traded a second time and waived by a third team.
Barton is a younger, livelier option, though I’m less certain he makes it to market and not sure Philly would be at the top of the suitor list.
The Wizards are ostensibly trying to win basketball games and make the playoffs via the play-in tournament, and Barton has been a fairly reliable shooter in recent seasons, including this year, shooting 38 percent from deep on decent volume off of the bench. But Barton has reportedly not been happy with his role in D.C., with Turner’s Chris Haynes reporting recently that Barton was open to a change in scenery after collecting a string of DNPs over the last month or so. He played 27 minutes against the Cavs on February 6th, but opportunities to play have been spotty.
Barton has his problems, with a gunner streak that might not mesh well with whatever they want to do on bench units, though he would definitely add some pop and at least give them another wing-sized guy on the bench. Good luck figuring out what the Wizards will do, though.
Philadelphia was active in their pursuit of another big prior to the deadline, with the Sixers making it known they would like to get a better rim-protecting option on the bench behind Joel Embiid. Montrezl Harrell has struggled in the role behind Embiid over the last few weeks, and Paul Reed has failed to make an impact in limited opportunities over the last few months.
Not bringing in another big pre-deadline was a bit of a surprise, as they are now left to fight with the rest of the league for potential buyout guys.
Potential targets: Nerlens Noel, DeMarcus Cousins
It was the deadline of reunions, so might as well throw a Noel possibility in here. With James Wiseman on his way to Detroit, it feels inevitable that Noel is given the opportunity to seek a new home, as the Pistons have quite a few big-man projects to work on in the years ahead.
This year has been the worst of Noel’s career on the offensive end, even if we qualify that by noting how limited his role is. Noel is shooting just 40 percent from the field and has some very real limitations on that end. He’s not going to space the floor — which is also true of their current big options — but that would be more forgivable if he had more strengths as a pick-and-roll player. Noel should make some easy money finishing lob attempts near the basket playing with Harden and/or Maxey in bench units, but his hands in traffic leave something to be desired, and there will be some Philadelphia turnovers that bounce off of his hands into the arms of an opponent.
The hope is that he can make up for that on the other end of the floor. He has remained an impressive, if lightly-played defender in a reserve role for Detroit, and with plenty of offensive talent around him in Philly, Noel could theoretically clean up for his teammates’ weaknesses in dribble penetration. But Noel has his challenges there, too, as he’s not the best option for bulkier bigs and won’t help much with their frequent rebounding problems.
Cousins would be a bigger offensive swing and give them a true big man behind Embiid, though it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll be able to positively impact a game right now, as Cousins has gone unsigned after spending last season in Denver. Cousins was never a dominant defensive player at his peak, and an Achilles injury during the 2017-18 season took some athleticism from him that has been hard for him to make up for. Defending in space would be a big issue.
At the moment, there just aren't a ton of great options at this spot. Khem Birch would be a semi-interesting name if the Spurs decided to eat the next year of his deal, though I don't know why they'd do that and Birch wasn't especially good while with the Raptors over the last two seasons, which is part of why they traded for Jakob Poeltl this week.
Potential targets: Patrick Beverley
Does Beverley make much sense as a buyout candidate for Philadelphia? Not especially. He has had a rough couple of shooting years after being a reliable floor spacer for most of his career, and he struggled to make an impact on a chaotic Lakers team this season. Beverley has remained a net positive on defense this season, though it’s unclear how he would fit into a Sixers rotation that already has plenty of guard depth and no clear spot to put him in the rotation.
But Beverley has certainly found comfort in Harden-led teams before, he has the “dog in him” type persona people always seem to crave around here, and, well, the Sixers have not shied away from acquiring former Rockets over the last year or so. Maybe he’d fit better than he did within the LeBron machine, and between Doc Rivers and Morey, they are as familiar as a team can get with what he brings to the table.
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