With the NBA trade deadline on Thursday, February 10th, it’s time to take a look at the Sixers team as a whole and see who could, or should be moved.
There’s no need to even discuss this; Ben Simmons needs to go if the Sixers are going to have any shot at winning the NBA title this season. Everyone has been through and witnessed all of the drama that has accompanied Simmons, his representation, as well as the team’s stance on him as a player and a valuable asset for trades.
Decision: Simmons is gone.
Embiid has been mostly quiet until the past few weeks, and now with a loud roar, he has established himself as the best player in the NBA this season. As the team battled Covid restrictions and injuries early in the season, it wasn’t looking good for the team as a whole. Upon his return, Embiid has taken his game to another level, putting himself at the top of the MVP board then he’s in the conversation along with maybe two other players. If he keeps up the current level of play and the Sixers keep climbing in the rankings, it won’t even be close.
Decision: Embiid stays.
Harris is interesting as he’s having a “down year.” That consists of close to 19 points per game to go along with 8 rebounds and 4 assists. What’s really been down has been his shooting, and that’s understandable having a new starter at point guard and not having Simmons on the floor to get as many looks as he usually gets. The funny part is that, over the past month, everyone is talking about how he’s playing so much better, and that’s he’s really come around, except his stats are the same, actually lower than the first part of the year. His shooting has improved, so it’s easy to see why everyone is talking about him now. That’s the best part for the Sixers that everyone is talking well about him and his $36 million salary. That should benefit the Sixers if they look to move Harris. In the end, most people start the conversation with his contract and not the quality player he is.
Decision: Harris goes.
In addition to Embiid having a career year, Tyrese Maxey has shown, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he belongs in the league and is a future star. Maxey, on the year, is averaging 16.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists in slightly over 35 minutes per game. He’s shooting 46% from the field and 41% on his three-pointers, as well as 87% from the free-throw line. How could you not love the guy? For all of the accolades and hype around Simmons, Maxey is playing much better than Ben ever has. While the rebounds won’t be there for a guy that stands just 6’2″, he’s doing a lot of the things Ben couldn’t or wouldn’t do. His free throw and three-point shooting alone make him more valuable, as well as the fact that he’s more than a turnover less per game than Simmons. Maxey also has a strong desire to get better, and when his boss, Embiid, calls him out for things, he responds and only keeps getting better.
Decision: Maxey stays.
Curry has been battling an injury of late, but when he returns, he will slide right back in the shooting guard starting spot. He’s just too good and helps open up the floor for the rest of the team. Currently averaging 15.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.0 assists, he’s shooting over 50% from the floor, 42% from beyond the three-point line, and close to 88% from the free-throw line. Curry is here to shoot, and he’s done it better than most others in the league. Curry is only 31 years old and has another year left on his contract for just under $9 million. The way the Sixers team is built, the way Embiid feels about him, and the shooting he provides are just too valuable to a team like the Sixers.
Decision: Curry stays.
Shake Milton has had a tough year, and it’s only made worse by the fact that Maxey is succeeding in the position Milton thought for sure was his at the start of the year. With Simmons not showing up, Milton had the inside lock on the starting point guard position, and then he got hurt. By the time he was coming back, everyone was battling Covid, and Maxey had locked up the starting spot. Milton started the season with an injured ankle, came back, and played well before going out for the Covid protocols, then injured his back upon returning. When he’s been on the floor, he’s been just ok. At 10.5 points to go along with three each of rebound and assists, that’s not bad for a 6th man. He’s just had some bad luck this year. Milton can still be a valuable piece for the Sixers going forward with a $2 million team option for next year, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be back.
Decision: Milton stays.
Niang has become a key player for the Sixers while remaining under the radar. His stats, like just under 10 points per game that go along with a couple of rebounds and assists, again, don’t stand out. He just seems to play well with and help Embiid and Harris to succeed. Niang is a heart and soul guy who can give you 15 points if it’s needed. In the clutch, his 40% three-point shooting and 89% free-throw shooting could be very valuable in the playoffs at crunch time of games. His $3.5 million for next year is more than reasonable for a guy that’s playing just under 25 minutes per game.
Decision: Niang stays.
Korkmaz is having a poor year for shooting. He’s been a quality shooter in the past, but this year, his numbers are downright bad. Less than 40% from the floor and less than 30% from the three-point line, it’s not getting it done. With that being said, Korkmaz comes in and has games for 15-20 points when the Sixers really need it. He’s on a friendly deal of $5 million for each of the next two seasons, and shooting depth is a premium.
Decision: Korkmaz stays.
It’s a shame for Danny Green this season as he’s battled injuries and Covid and only appeared in thirty games for the team this season. The bad news is really that when he’s playing, he hasn’t been the same player as he was in the past. The shooting is down, points down, defense isn’t there. It’s been a rough year for Green. He’s on a friendly deal with one more year at $10 million left on his contract, so he’d be a great asset to throw-in on any trade. Simply for the money but also hoping a change of scenery would do him good as he ends his career, he’s not holding much value of the Sixers.
Decision: Green goes.
Drummond has been consistent in his limited minutes backing up Embiid this year. Is he going to get you 20 points every night? No. But, if Embiid needs to take a night off, Drummond can dial up a 15-20 point game with another 20 rebounds. He’s averaging nine rebounds per game in just over 18 minutes. He’s on a league-minimum salary, and frankly, he’s too valuable to let go.
Decision: Drummond stays.
Matisse Thybulle is a tough one. On one hand, he’s developed into one of the best overall defenders in the league. He plays passing lanes well, handles some of the tougher defensive assignments, doesn’t get beat much, and has tremendous recovery speed when he does. On the other hand, in 26 minutes per game, he only gives you just under 6 points per game. Then there are his 2.4 rebounds and 1 assist, and they’re supposed to be offset by his two steals per game as slightly over one block per game. For all that he offers the team on the defensive side of the ball, he’s almost as bad on the offensive side. He’s the toughest decision, but the price may be right, especially since he is a free agent after next season.
Decision: Thybulle goes.
Lots can be said for a guy that shoots a high percentage on his three-point attempts, as well as not being afraid to take them. Joe sees just around 13 minutes per game, and his shooting hasn’t been what it was thought to be, outside of being a very good free-throw shooter. Joe’s on the books for $1.8 million next season, and that might entice a team that could use a young shooter.
Decision: Joe goes.
For all of the hype that accompanied “B-Ball Paul” after last season with the Blue Coats, this and next year are still developmental years for Reed. When he’s been in games, he hasn’t shown much, and he hasn’t shown enough to get more time in the games.
Decision: Reed goes.
The 6’4″ rookie that the Sixers nabbed with the 28th pick in last year’s draft had a rough start to the season, as any late first-round pick might, coming on to a team of veterans that have their places assured. Then a turn in Delaware didn’t seem to be going well either, and then after New Year’s, Springer has come alive. Playing well and getting noticed by the big club, Springer is a developmental player with a pretty good upside that the Sixers don’t need to pressure right away.
Decision: Springer stays.
While all of the players listed “go” are not necessarily going to be moved, they’re the ones that can surely leave and not hurt the team. The players that should stay have shown why they should be here.
The one big question, at the end of the day, is will Ben Simmons go. If the Sixers unload Simmons, for anything really at this point, prior to the trade deadline, then it will be a win for the team. He’s doing nothing for the team and only providing management with headaches, and I’m sure, as the season goes on and the players are asked about it another ten million times, it will be a headache for them. Send Simmons packing, include Harris if you can, and take back more reliable and balanced pieces for the team to use throughout the playoffs.