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July 10, 2024

Sixers mailbag: Who could the team trade for during the upcoming season?

Who might the Sixers try to acquire closer to next year's trade deadline? Answering that and other questions in a Sixers mailbag.

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DFS 7.10.24 Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

Can the Sixers trade for Dorian Finney-Smith to bolster their roster once the season is underway?

The Sixers have accomplished all of their most significant pieces of business this summer, though some smaller decisions need to be made as spending power across the league deteriorates and the free agent market dwindles. As the team puts together the remainder of its roster, let's answer some of your questions in a Sixers mailbag.

From @ElGreco21: Who do you think will be available that we can use a KJ Martin balloon payment and draft picks to get?

If you are unfamiliar with the term "balloon payment," it is a strategy I advocated for the Sixers to use with KJ Martin last month in which the Sixers give the free agent a short-term contract well above his genuine market value to then use his contract as a medium-sized piece of salary filler in a future trade. A source with knowledge of the team's thinking told PhillyVoice at the time that this concept was under consideration, and with the team spending nearly $50 million in cap space on Paul George alone, they currently lack expendable contracts that can help them facilitate a trade.

If the Sixers do go down this path, which players they can acquire using Martin's inflated salary and some combination of other assets is in part dependent on how significant Martin's contract is. But a few names come to mind...

Dorian Finney-Smith of the Brooklyn Nets should be available as the Nets pursue a youth movement, and his size on the wing makes him an obvious fit for the Sixers, who could conceivably use him at multiple positions to help fill the gaps in between the team's star trio of George, Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.

• If the Sixers fail to sign a reliable backup point guard before the start of the season and that spot on the depth chart becomes a revolving door of sorts, Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz could give the Sixers another perimeter scoring threat off the bench. He is not exactly tailor-made to thrive alongside stars, but could provide the team with necessary ball-handling and scoring chops when Maxey and/or George are off the floor.

• Another backup point guard option -- who might be a cleaner fit in Philadelphia than Clarkson -- is Dennis Schröder, also of the Nets. Schröder played very well after being dealt to Brooklyn last season, shooting 41.2 percent from beyond the arc on significant volume, and has developed a reputation as a pestering defender.

From @DaRealQuick: Who is the early front-runner for the Sixers' final two-way contract slot?

The Sixers have one two-way deal remaining to hand out, with Justin Edwards and David Jones being awarded the first two spots. The battle among Summer League Sixers to nab the final spot is one of the storylines I am paying the most attention to over the next few weeks.

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It is hard to predict something like this -- not just because the team only has two Summer League games under its belt as of this writing, but because each team has a different strategy with how it uses their two-way spots.

Some teams try to use their two-way slots to add the most intriguing prospects available, regardless of position -- perhaps using their expected draft stock as a barometer. That could make guard Judah Mintz, who some expected to be a second-round pick but went undrafted, an appealing option.

The Sixers could also very well be holding out on using their final two-way deal in hopes that a more enticing option than the ones that currently exist presents itself. Teams will make cuts and waive players over the course of the summer, and perhaps the Sixers have their eyes on a few players they believe could become available.

But the Sixers may be operating under unique circumstances. They are built around someone in Embiid who only plays one position, and is frequently unavailable for games. With Embiid and Andre Drummond under contract and second-round pick Adem Bona expected to receive a standard NBA contract, could the Sixers sign a center to a two-way deal rather than adding a true fourth-string center, and then activate the two-way big whenever Embiid is sidelined? Keve Aluma has totaled 27 points and 12 rebounds off the bench across two games in Salt Lake City while shooting 12-14 from the field. Can he continue to work himself into consideration?

From @SixersPy: How likely is it to have Kyle Lowry and Robert Covington back next season?

I speculated before free agency began that the Phoenix Suns could make a strong play for Lowry -- potentially offering him a starting role that the Sixers would be hesitant to guarantee him -- and reports out of Phoenix indicate that, even after the team signed veteran point guard Monte Morris, the Suns are pursuing Lowry.

Like the Sixers, Phoenix can only offer Lowry, 38, a veteran's minimum deal. At this stage of his career, ability to win and consistent playing time likely matter much more than any finances for someone whose time is running out as he tries to win his second NBA championship.

Lowry returning to the Sixers feels like a home run for all parties involved though. The Sixers fill their backup point guard hole with a player who is a pristine fit next to any or all of their star players who also gives them some of the toughness that their current roster may lack, and Lowry gets to play for the coach he won a ring with and potentially end his career playing for his hometown team.

However, as heartwarming of a story as it would be for Covington to be part of the next great Sixers team, it is hard to imagine the team feeling confident in his viability from a medical standpoint. Covington missed more than four months of action last season with a rather mysterious bone bruise in his knee that simply never seemed to improve.

The idea of Covington -- even the diminished version of him -- is more than viable as an end-of-bench piece, and from a positional standpoint he makes a good amount of sense on this Sixers roster. But do the Sixers believe he can stay remotely healthy over the course of an 82-game season and (hopefully) deep playoff run? The answer to that question is going to determine whether or not the team will have interest in extending Covington's second stint in Philadelphia.

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