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February 06, 2019

What they're saying: Harris trade is great for Sixers, terrible for Celtics, Raptors and rest of East

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Now that we've had a little over 12 hours to digest the Sixers' big trade deadline move — acquiring Tobias Harris from the Clippers in a six-player deal — the hot takes are beginning to cool down and we're starting to get some actual analysis of what this deal means for Philly (and the rest of the Eastern Conference) moving forward.

We've already looked at several angles of the second big trade of the Elton Brand Era, including how it will impact Brett Brown's rotation and how it could alter the landscape of the East for several different reasons. And that wasn't even the Sixers last move of the day...

Now, however, it's time to take a look around the country to see what others are saying about the trade. 

[Spoiler warning: It's good for the Sixers, not so much for the rest of their conference.]

And the winners are...

Tom Haberstroh | NBC Sports

As is customary whenever a trade is made in sports, everyone rushes to declare a winner and a loser. And that's just what Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports did. But there was a catch. 

See, he believes this is a win-win trade and has both teams involved listed under his winners. Here's what he had to say about the Sixers now that they've landed a new starter in Harris.

Tobias Harris is not just a good shooter. He’s a great shooter. Pop quiz: How many players have made more 3-pointers over the last two seasons and at a higher rate than Harris (295 3s at a 42.0-percent clip)? 

The answer is just two: Stephen Curry (427 3-pointers on 43.7 percent) and Buddy Hield (359 3-pointers on 44.5 percent). That’s how good Harris is from beyond the arc. And he’s shooting north of 50 percent from the corners, where the 76ers need help.

Don’t minimize him as just a shooter. Harris is a huge body at 6-foot-9 and 235 pounds who can run a pick-and-roll and run in transition. Among the 36 players with at least 250 finishing plays as the pick-and-roll ball-handler, only seven players were more efficient than Harris, according to Synergy tracking. He ranks a smidge ahead of Kevin Durant and just below LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. Harris is not as good as Durant or nearly as consistent, but Paul George may be the only superior Durant proxy in the league. ... 

Better yet, the 76ers still have another trick up their sleeve. Notice that Markelle Fultz was not included in the trade, leaving them with another trade chip to improve the depth. The team exchanged five rotation players -- Wilson Chandler, Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Landry Shamet and Mike Muscala -- into two stars. Don’t be surprised if they go on a hunt for another wing shooter. Keep an eye on Memphis’ Garrett Temple, Miami’s Wayne Ellington (and Rodney MacGruder) and Orlando’s Terrence Ross. On the buyout market, Wesley Matthews is expected to be a target for Philly.

Philadelphia isn’t the favorite to win the East. But from my vantage point, no team has better odds.  []

Just because he declared both the Sixers and Clippers winners doesn't mean there aren't losers. Haberstroh lists both the Celtics and Raptors as losers, even though they weren't directly involved at all in this.

Does that make this a win-win-win scenario for Sixers fans?

The North going south?

Sean Deveney | Sporting News

Now, it's time to get into why this trade is so bad for the rest of the Eastern Conference, aside from the obvious fact that the Sixers improved their roster. Here's Sean Deveny of the Sporting News to give you the Raptors' perspective. 

The Sixers trade is a double-whammy for the Raptors. Now, in addition to the Bucks and Celtics, Philadelphia must be considered a conference contender. The second round of the playoffs now figures to be a killer for all four of the top East teams, but especially Toronto. The Raptors are 1-3 this year against Milwaukee and 1-2 against Boston.

But it gets worse for the North. Not only does a strengthened Sixers team give the Raptors another East team to worry about, it cleared out ample cap space for the Clippers, who sent Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott to the Sixers and got back two first-round picks (the Sixers’ in 2020 and the Heat’s in 2021) and two second-round picks, plus Chandler, rookie guard Landry Shamet and big man Mike Muscala.

Without the free-agent hold for Harris in place, the Clippers will have nearly $50 million in cap space on July 1, and the assets to create more space before then. And the Clippers, quietly, have made no bones about their desire to sign Leonard, a Southern California native who has indicated he’d like to return home.

The dream scenario for the Clippers is a package signing of both Leonard and Warriors star Kevin Durant, and while that may still be a longshot, there is a much better chance of it coming to fruition in the wake of this deal.  []

Oh, Danny boy

Joshua Schrock |

Not only did the Sixers manage to potentially screw up the Raptors' plans, but they also managed to hurt Danny Ainge's chances of bringing Anthony Davis to Boston. Oh, and the Clippers were going to have to give up their 2019 first-round pick to the Celtics if they made the playoffs, something that almost certainly won't be happening now.

The immediate impact of the trade is clear: the 76ers now have the best starting five in the Eastern Conference. ... In fact, the only team in the NBA who can put out a more talented starting five is the two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors. ...

Philadelphia’s move for Harris also might hurt the Celtics in their ultimate pursuit of Anthony Davis and impact Boston’s draft status.

After acquiring Philadelphia’s 2020 first-round pick and the Miami Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick in the Harris trade, the Clippers now could have the draft assets necessary to tempt the New Orleans Pelicans into making a Davis trade. The star forward reportedly would sign a long-term deal with the Clippers if dealt there, and LA now can offer the two picks acquired in the Harris deal and two of their own along with contracts and a young player to land the franchise star Boston covets and can’t trade for until after July 1.

LA trading Harris also signals they’ll be dropping out of the playoff race and thus will be keeping their 2019 first-round draft pick, which would be Boston’s if it was outside of the lottery. If the Clippers miss the playoffs next year as well, then Boston will receive two second-round draft picks from LA to complete a  2016 draft day trade.  []

No wonder the only person who didn't like the trade was Bill Simmons, who called it "desperate" and "weird."

Beasts of the East?

Tim Bontemps |

So where does this leave the rest of the Eastern Conference, this season and beyond? Tim Bontemps of ESPN looks at how the rest of the contenders in the East could respond to this blockbuster deal by the Sixers... 

4. The race to the top of the Eastern Conference just got tougher

Assuming Philadelphia is able to pull this off and keep Simmons, Butler, Harris and Embiid together long term, the Sixers should be a threat in the East for years to come. More importantly, they clearly are going for it this season.

The question now is how do the other contenders -- the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks -- react? The Bucks have likely already made their big moves, while the Celtics have to wait until the offseason to make the swing they've been plotting for years -- trying to land Anthony Davis. (Note: The Clippers almost certainly missing the playoffs also means that Boston will have to wait to see if it can get their pick in 2020. If the Clippers miss the playoffs this season and next, that first becomes two second-round picks.)

That leaves the Raptors as the team most likely to counter with an aggressive move, and it won't be a surprise if Toronto does something significant between now and Thursday afternoon.

The Raptors have every incentive to go for it this season. Leonard is a free agent and Toronto has always had to play catch-up to try to convince him to stay. Masai Ujiri has never been scared of making a move. Whether the Raptors can find the right move remains to be seen, but don't expect them to let the deadline pass without turning over every possibility.  []

Don't ever tell me the odds

Nick Schwartz | For The Win

Well, we're going to tell them to you anyway, since the Sixers are now tied with the Celtics for the second-best odds in the East to win the NBA title this season.

It remains to be seen how formidable the Sixers will be with Harris in the starting lineup, as Jimmy Butler’s introduction to the team wasn’t exactly painless. Still, Harris is a borderline All-Star who had been putting up career numbers this season for the Clippers. His arrival made an instant impact on the Sixers’ championship odds in Las Vegas – though the Celtics are still favored to emerge from the Eastern Conference. All odds are from the Westgate Super Book, via @golfodds.

NBA title odds on January 28th:

Warriors 2/5
Celtics 8/1
Raptors 8/1
Rockets 12/1
Bucks 12/1
Thunder 14/1
76ers 16/1

NBA title odds on February 6th:

Warriors 2/5
Celtics 8/1
76ers 10/1
Raptors 10/1
Bucks 12/1


But is it enough?

Chris Herring | FiveThirtyEight

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Chris Herring took a look at whether or not the Sixers now have enough to make it to the NBA Finals. While FiveThirtyEight ranks the Sixers as the best roster in the East — and second-best in the NBA — they could still lack the bench depth to make a deep playoff run.

If the Sixers weren’t all in after the Butler trade, they certainly are now. But did the move1 put Philly over the top in the East? There’s some uncertainty around that answer — or at least more uncertainty than a team that just cashed in many future assets would like.

Yes, depending on the metric you look at, Philadelphia can be viewed as the strongest team in the Eastern Conference. FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO projections have the Sixers’ current roster ranked as the best in the conference and second-best in the league, with a rating of 1704.2 The team’s probability of reaching the NBA Finals and winning the title increased as a result of the trade, to 16 percent (from 13 percent last week) and 4 percent (from 3 percent), respectively.

Interestingly, though, Philly’s likelihood of reaching the promised land — despite having perhaps the conference’s best starting five now — still ranks behind three contenders out East, in Toronto, Milwaukee and even Boston. Each of those teams has a deeper bench than the Sixers, something this trade didn’t necessarily help.  []

The good news is, there's still some time before the deadline to address that. Stay tuned...

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