The NBA Summer is in full swing, and one of the biggest dominoes remaining has fallen. While that move did not directly impact the Sixers, could the fallout lead to a deal with Philadelphia?
Restricted free agent center DeAndre Ayton signed a max offer sheet from the Indiana Pacers worth $133 million spanning four years. The Phoenix Suns decided to match the max four-year offer and re-signed Ayton to keep their “core” intact. With the Suns not offering Ayton a contract initially and rumors of their souring relationship, many didn’t expect him to return. He was rumored to be an integral piece as a sign and trade candidate in a potential Kevin Durant deal, but that deal didn’t materialize.
As DeAndre Ayton returns on a max deal and the Suns’ owner Robert Sarver is categorized around the league as a “cost-efficient” owner, league personnel believe cost-cutting moves in the long or short term could be on the way. Add in Chris Paul’s deal, the recent Mikal Bridges’ extension, and the upcoming extension of Cam Johnson, and some difficult decisions may be made.
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report recently reported when providing intel on Cam Johnson’s upcoming extension, “The Suns’ accounting has gotten quite expensive, and league personnel still categorize Jae Crowder and Dario Saric as trade candidates entering this season to clear necessary wiggle room on Phoenix’s books.” With Harden still not signed, all signs point to Daryl Morey still trying to improve the roster before he signs on the dotted line. If the Suns are looking to make some cost-cutting moves, should the Sixers inquire about players that may be available for trade?
Could the Sixers Go After Crowder
If Jae Crowder is on the trade block, Daryl Morey should definitely give the Phoenix Suns a call. The theme this summer for the front office has been to add a two-way player who brings some toughness. Crowder could bring that true “3 and D” profile to a team who continues to try to add those types of players around Joel Embiid and James Harden. Crowder was on back-to-back teams that went to the Finals (Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns), and that type of experience in high-pressure situations could really benefit the Sixers, who seem to come up short in those moments.
In order to make the trade work, the Sixers would more than likely have to trade Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, and a player like Charles Bassey. The Sixers have been gauging the interest of Thybulle since the offseason began, so parting ways for more of an offensive threat wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.
The Suns could get off Crowder’s contract and avoid offering him an extension that he would most likely be asking for and take a flier on Thybulle to determine if they see him as a part of their future or if they want to move him at a later date. Thybulle will be a restricted free agent next offseason, and his value will definitely be lower than a player like Crowder, who can be depended on to perform on both sides of the court.
Bring The Homie Home
Dario Saric hasn’t played for the Phoenix Suns since he tore his ACL during Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals. Saric took a whole year off to rehab and should be back in action this upcoming season. Saric is a former Sixer who was beloved in Philadelphia before he was traded in the deal for Jimmy Butler. Saric doesn’t fit the mold of the moves made this offseason but could add a different type of versatility to this current roster.
Since being traded from the 76ers, he had trouble adjusting to different roles on the Timberwolves and initially on the Suns. He found his niche backing up DeAndre Ayton, giving teams a different look as a stretch big. Saric could bring that same skill to the Sixers, offering something different for teams to prepare for outside of Paul Reed. He could also play a backup forward spot if someone like Georges Niang was included in a trade to the Suns. Saric spacing and playmaking could provide something that the second unit hasn’t had in a while.
For this deal to happen, the Sixers would more than likely have to part with a package containing Georges Niang, Furkan Korkmaz, and Shake Milton or Isaiah Joe. Would this be enough to secure Saric? Maybe, but do the Sixers actually need a player like Saric on the roster?
If Morey wants to add more experience and Crowder is available, that is definitely something the organization should look into. With more trades bound to happen around the league, look for the Sixers to try to get in on the action.