The Sixers shocked the basketball world when it was announced that Daryl Morey would be joining their front office as president of basketball operations. Morey is one of the most respected and successful executives around the league. It is well known that the Sixers have been trying to poach Morey from the Rockets for years. After stepping down from his post in Houston, Josh Harris and the Sixers swooped in and finally got their guy.
Morey has built a reputation for being an analytics-driven executive. He has been very creative in his pursuit of building a championship roster over the years. He is a guy that wants stars to build around. In Houston, when the Rockets had no real direction, Morey made a trade for James Harden, who then blossomed into an MVP-caliber player under him. He then managed to pair him with 8x All-Star Dwight Howard in 2013, traded for 10x All-Star Chris Paul in 2017, and then exchanged Paul for former league MVP Russell Westbrook just last year.
Coming into the situation in Philadelphia, Morey will already have 2 stars on the roster. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are undoubtedly 2 of the top 20 players in the NBA. However, Simmons and Embiid are an odd fit and they haven’t proven that they could win together in the playoffs. Morey could look to trade either one of them for more complementary pieces to whichever one he decides to keep. The more likely route is that he makes a push for a 3rd star to join them. That is where Zach Lavine comes in.
Finding a third star for the Sixers
Chicago Bulls receive: Josh Richardson, Matisse Thybulle, Zhaire Smith, Mike Scott, 2020 1st round pick via OKC, 2022 1st round pick
Philadelphia 76ers receive: Zach LaVine and Ryan Arcidiacono
Why the Sixers do it:
Adding Zach LaVine to the current Sixers roster would give them something that they haven’t had since possibly the Jrue Holiday era: a shot creator. LaVine had a career-year this past season, averaging 25.5 points per game while shooting 45% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc. LaVine is a 3-level scorer capable of creating his own shot and hitting from pretty much anywhere on the court. He can penetrate the defense and as Marc Zumoff would say, “turn garbage into gold”. He’s a dynamic ball handler that would give Simmons and Embiid the perimeter scorer that they’ve been craving for.
Not only was LaVine one of the top scorers in the league last year but he also put up 4.2 assists per game. Those assists numbers may not seem like much but on a bad team with few offensive options aside from himself, they are quite impressive. They hint at much more playmaking capabilities that we just haven’t seen yet. Surrounded by elite offensive players such as Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris may help LaVine unlock his full potential.
Ryan Arcidiacano is no slouch either. The former Villanova star would give the Sixers a serviceable 2nd or 3rd string point guard. Arcidiacano has proven to be a good 3 point shooter and would give the Sixers additional depth at a position of need.
Ultimately, LaVine gives the Sixers another star who is still young enough to grow with their current core but also good enough to help them contend now and keep them competitive in the future. Pairing him with Simmons and Embiid is the exact kind of splashy move that we’ve come to expect from Daryl Morey.
Why the Bulls do it
Arturas Karnisovas took over the Chicago Bulls front office after several years of ineptitude from the Gar-Pax regime. He has a good young nucleus to work with but he may not consider LaVine a player worthy of building around. The stats he put up might be considered inflated due to the load he had to carry and his shot selection and hero-ball tendencies have often made others wonder if you can win with a player like Zach LaVine. If Karnisovas deems it fit to trade LaVine while his value is high and try to recoup some assets, this deal makes a lot of sense.
Josh Richardson is someone you can plug right into any system. He is a solid 3-and-D wing that would instantly elevate the Bulls defense. He can also give you some buckets as evidenced by his 13.7 points per game last season and he could be a secondary or tertiary ball handler. Richardson will be a free agent at the end of next season but he will be much cheaper to retain as compared to LaVine.
The big get here for the Bulls would be defensive specialist Matisse Thybulle. After being the 20th pick in last year’s draft, Thybulle surprised spectators with his defensive prowess on the court. He is one of the best defensive rookies the league has seen in years. He helped elevate the Sixers bench this season and gave them a spark plug who provided them with hustle and energy every time he was called upon. Thybulle is only 23 years old and while he does have some flaws, he has so much more potential to unlock. It would be a really interesting opportunity to bring in such an impactful youngster to a team that is trying to build a new culture.
The Bulls would also get Zhaire Smith and Mike Scott in the deal. Smith, who is only 21, has had some health issues to start his NBA career. The former 16th overall pick could be a reclamation project for the Bulls and wind up being a diamond in the rough for them. Scott would give the team a veteran forward who’d give them some solid minutes as a stretch off the bench.
On top of the players, the Bulls also receive 2 first-round picks this year. They could use pick 21 in this year’s draft to select someone they really like and the 2022 pick is very valuable since that is the year that the NBA is projected to lower the required age limit to enter the draft from 19 to 18 years old. Scouts are already calling it a potential “generational” draft.
This trade is one that’d be very beneficial to both franchises. The Sixers need more offense and the Bulls need a culture reset. Morey will certainly look to make some changes to this roster and adding someone like Zach LaVine could be the short and long-term fix to the problems that have hindered the Sixers for years.
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