The Philadelphia 76ers’ Perfect Offseason — Zach’s Edition

76ers Basketball
Philadelphia 76ers’ Daryl Morey speaks during a news conference at the team’s NBA basketball practice facility, Friday, May 13, 2022, in Camden, N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia 76ers have entered what might be their most pivotal offseason in decades. With many potential decisions ahead, Daryl Morey and company must be thoughtful and deliberate with every move that they make, from the Draft to the trade market, to free agency. We here at Philly Sports Network are going to be taking a look at what each of our Sixers’ writers would aim to do if they were running the show.

This exercise will include one draft pick, two trades, and two free-agent signings. Without further ado, here is the Philadelphia 76ers’ perfect offseason, according to PSN Managing Editor Zach Ciavolella.

The 2022 NBA Draft

At this current moment, the Philadelphia 76ers do not have a pick in the 2022 NBA draft, but that’s likely to change within the next week. The Brooklyn Nets received the Sixers’ draft pick in the Ben Simmons/James Harden trade earlier this year, but they have the right to defer and instead receive the Sixers’ 2023 first-round pick. It seems likely that Brooklyn will decide to do just that, a decision they have until June first to make.

Pick 23 — Wendell Moore | Wing | Duke

“With the 23rd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Wendell Moore.” There are a surprising amount of quality candidates with the 23rd pick for Philly. E.J. Liddell, out of Ohio State, for instance, is another personal favorite of mine, but Wendell Moore fits so many vital needs like a glove for Philadelphia.

Once a five-star recruit in the same recruiting class as Tyrese Maxey, it took Moore some time to establish himself on the court. While others fled the college game in hopes of possibly landing with an NBA team as soon as possible, Moore chose to return to Duke for not just a second but a third season to continue honing his skills.

This decision proved fruitful for Moore, who improved as a shooter, defender, and passer — a severely underrated part of Moore’s game. This past season for the Blue Devils, Moore shot an even 50% from the field and an impressive 41.3% from three while averaging 13.4 points per contest.

We’ll take an even closer look at Moore in his coming prospect profile but the spark notes for today are that he again checks many boxes for the 76ers. Moore would immediately become the top athlete on a team devoid of such talent. He is a legitimate 3/D wing at the NBA level, something the Sixers will be missing from Danny Green next season. Moore would also become one of the team’s top perimeter defenders, perhaps their best perimeter defender if Matisse Thybulle is traded, as some rumors suggest.

With the 23rd pick, a player who provides athleticism, shooting, defense, and passing is frankly irresponsible to pass on when all of those are desperate needs for your team.

The Trade Market

As is usually the case, the Philadelphia 76ers are expected to be quite involved in the trade market this offseason. With names like Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, and even head coach Doc Rivers already popping up in trade rumors, there’s sure to be some action on the trade front for Daryl Morey and the team.

Trade #1: Solving the Tobias Harris Conundrum

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 01: Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes #40 during the Sacramento Kings vs LA Clippers game on December 01, 2021, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire) | LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 29: LA Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr. #8 looks to pass during the Utah Jazz versus the Los Angeles Clippers game on March 29, 2022, at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)

Philadelphia Receives:

  • Harrison Barnes
  • Marcus Morris

Sacramento Receives:

  • Tobias Harris
  • Isaiah Joe

Clippers Receive:

  • Furkan Korkmaz
  • Justin Holiday
  • Maurice Harkless
  • 2022 second-round pick (49th overall via SAC)

One of the top priorities for the 76ers this offseason will likely be monitoring the trade market for Tobias Harris. It’s seemed for a while now that a Harris trade has seemed inevitable; this offseason may finally be the time. Rumors surrounded Harris near the trade deadline last season, and while he seemed to find his footing after the James Harden trade, that only likely increased his trade value, if anything.

Expect Tobias Harris to be shopped at the deadline, and while the Sixers could look to trade Harris completely for cap space, with the recent rumors surrounding Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine, it’s more likely the team will look to add quality depth to the roster.

This brings us to the deal itself. The Sacramento Kings are desperate for a postseason berth. So desperate, in fact, that they are looking to add whatever established veteran talent they can. While some have suggested that the team could trade the fourth overall pick in the 2022 draft, that would be a next-level mistake for Sacramento, who will have one of Jaden Ivey, Shaedon Sharpe, or Keegan Murray available. Instead, they keep their high-end selection and upgrade to Tobias Harris from Harrison Barnes, all at the cost of some expiring contracts and the 49th pick in the 2022 Draft. Isaiah Joe isn’t a bad throw-in either.

The Los Angeles Clippers, meanwhile, have been rumored to be shopping Marcus Morris. This is considered the case as Morris is reportedly viewed as a “high-cost redundancy” that the Clippers may not be able to afford. What could they use instead? Some length, athleticism, and expiring deals may fit the bill. Holiday and Harkless are entering the last year of their contract, but before they head off to free agency, they would provide the Clippers with some even more wing depth, as would Furkan Korkmaz both in 2022 and 2023. The 49th overall pick is just the cherry on top.

That’s one deal in the books, but there’s a second deal the 76ers would be wise to consider this offseason.

Trade #2: Defense for Offense

CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 30: Chicago Bulls guard Coby White (0) dribbles the ball in action before a NBA game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Chicago Bulls on January 30, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire)

Philadelphia Receives:

  • Coby White

Philadelphia Receives:

  • Matisse Thybulle
  • Shake Milton

As the NBA Draft Combine took place last week, rumors began to fly as they do when so many front office members are under one roof. One story that stood out to 76ers fans was that the Chicago Bulls are rumored to be interested in the Sixers’ defensive savant Matisse Thybulle. The connection comes through Chicago Bulls’ General Manager Marc Eversley, who was reportedly instrumental in the 76ers’ drafting of Thybulle back when he was Philadelphia’s Senior Vice President of Player Personnel.

If the Bulls are truly interested in Thybulle and if the 76ers agree to discuss a deal, there are few players who make sense in a swap between the two teams. Names like Alex Caruso and Javonte Green may get tossed around, but the Bulls are unlikely to willingly part with Caruso, and Green won’t be enough to make Daryl Morey budge; this is where Coby White steps in.

Drafted back in 2019 — the same draft as Matisse Thybulle — White has struggled to find his footing in his young career. When a player is selected in the top half of the lottery, the expectation is that the player is no worse than a fringe all-star at the minimum. White hasn’t been that, but he started to come into his own last season, at least as a shooter.The key stat is what White was able to do in catch-and-shoot situations, where he shot 40.6% from deep on 4.6 attempts per game. Playing alongside Joel Embiid and James Harden, White should expect to do most of his damage off the catch, and it looks as though he’d thrive.

The Free Agent Market

Free Agent #1: The Non-Taxpayer Exception — Bruce Brown Jr.

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 21: Brooklyn Nets Guard Bruce Brown (1) shot is blocked by Los Angeles Clippers Guard Paul George (13) during a NBA game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers on February 21, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. The game was played without fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

The Sixers will have two exceptions at their disposal for signing free agents this offseason. Assuming the team does not accept Danny Green’s team option ($10M), then they would qualify for the “Non-Taxpayer Exception,” which will coincidentally come in at about $10M this season. With that exception, the player on Daryl Morey’s mind should be Bruce Brown Jr.

Without Matisse Thybulle, the 76ers find themselves in need of versatile defenders. Yes, at this point, they’ve added Harrison Barnes, Marcus Morris, and Wendell Moore, but a standout perimeter defender is still a need. Bruce Brown Jr. is that and so much more. With the Brooklyn Nets last season, Brown continued to show that he’s the type of player every modern NBA team needs.

His versatility, especially defensively, is the key here for Philadelphia. Teams like the Heat, the Celtics, and even the Warriors, have shown that modern NBA defenses need switchable defenders; that’s a non-negotiable. Last season, this was one of the 76ers’ weakest areas of the roster. Now adding Brown to Barnes and Morris, the new-look 76ers suddenly look up to the challenge.

When it comes to Brown’s role, that’s where it will be up to Doc Rivers — or whoever is coaching the 76ers next season — to decide. Brown could easily start, but that would mean the team would have to bench one of Harrison Barnes or Marcus Morris. Would it make sense to bench a player like Barnes, who is offensively and defensively versatile? Would it be wise to bench Morris, who brings some necessary fire to the lineup? That’s a tough question but a good problem to have if you’re Philadelphia.

As for the 76ers’ second free-agent target, well, let’s just say that Brown shouldn’t be the only Brooklyn Net the Sixers should target:

Free Agent #2: The Bi-Annual Exception: The Return of Andre Drummond

CHICAGO, IL – FEBRUARY 06: Philadelphia 76ers Center Andre Drummond (1) in action during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Chicago Bulls on February 6, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire)

Other than their “Non-Taxpayer Exception,” the Sixers will be allowed to use their “Bi-Annual Exception,” which is exactly what it sounds like and an exception you cannot use in consecutive seasons. This season, the “Bi-Annual Exception” comes in at about $4M.

The Philadelphia 76ers clearly missed Andre Drummond after he was sent to Brooklyn in the James Harden/Ben Simmons deal earlier this season. While we saw the emergence of Paul Reed late in the season, ideally, the team would have a backup big for both big and small lineups — similar to the point Doc Rivers attempted to make near the end of the season.

Drummond — although not perfect — was precisely what the Sixers needed out of Joel Embiid’s primary backup this season. A big-time rebounder who clogs the paint, Drummond was the best yet when looking at the long history of players who have come and gone trying to fill the same role. Credit the Brooklyn Nets, who really knew what they were doing when they demanded the inclusion of Andre Drummond in the deal.

In his short time with the 76ers, not only was Drummond Embiid’s best backup to date, but he was also one of the best chemistry players the team has had in ages. Whether it was cheering on his teammates or making the drive to Delaware to support the Blue Coats, Andre Drummond’s presence off the court was just as important as it was on the court. A reunion should be a no-brainer for both the Sixers and for Drummond.

The New Look 76ers

Now that the primary moves have been made, it’s time to take a look at the 2022-23 Philadelphia 76ers:

Starters

  • James Harden
  • Tyrese Maxey
  • Harrison Barnes
  • Marcus Morris
  • Joel Embiid

Bench

  • Coby White
  • Bruce Brown Jr.
  • Georges Niang
  • Andre Drummond
  • Paul Reed
  • Jaden Springer
  • Charles Bassey
  • Wendell Moore

There is no doubt that this team is improved over its 2021-22 counterpart; however, the question that will always remain is, “is it good enough?” There will be no telling until this time next year. Hopefully, no matter what decisions the team makes, they will finally have a chance to complete “the Process.”

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