Previewing Likely Sellers at Trade Deadline, Sixers Potential Top Targets

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Utah Jazz guard Malik Beasley, left, pulls in a rebound as Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) defends in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The date December 15th is ingrained within the minds of hardcore NBA fans, as it marks the point in which players who were recently signed in the previous off-season are eligible to be traded. The Sixers will have some of their own players become eligible as will some of their potential targets.

That being said, it’s very rare to see deals actually go down on that day, as many teams prefer to wait until the trade deadline in February to evaluate potential targets and their own teams to see which moves will best urge them in the direction they’d like to take for the rest of the league year.

Still, there is a chance that some trades will go down with a major chunk of talent gaining eligibility this day. The Sixers, like nearly every team in the league this year, could certainly use a roster move or two to flesh out their lineups and hunker down for their remaining playoff push.

Every trade deadline, there’s a portion of teams that enter the period as buyers and another section that are sellers. The concept is pretty self-explanatory. Buyers will be looking to upgrade the talent on their roster using either unproven young players, draft capital, or expiring contracts as compensation. Sellers are the other way, looking to both improve their future by clearing their books, obtaining more prospects in development, or adding draft picks to their war chest in return for some of their more established players that would be better off bolstering a contender’s title chances.

With James Harden and Joel Embiid on the roster smack-dab in the middle of their primes, the Sixers are sure to be buyers. Here are the teams most likely to be sellers at the trade deadline and the top target on each team for the Sixers to try to poach.

Indiana Pacers | Buddy Hield

Indiana Pacers’ Buddy Hield (24) is defended by Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 12, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The Indiana Pacers have been one of the biggest surprises in the league this season, upsetting teams night after night en route to a 14-14 record and the eighth-seed in the Eastern Conference. This is an organization that has been relatively tank-averse, so there’s a chance that they might hold onto their talent unless a no-brainer deal comes their way. If they do decide to have a fire sale, though, there are plenty of strong veterans on the Pacers that the Sixers should be interested in, the utmost target being Buddy Hield.

Adding a movement shooter of Hield’s caliber to a team that features Harden, Embiid, and an upper-echelon defense would be a match made in heaven.

Chicago Bulls | Alex Caruso

Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso (6) reacts next to Golden State Warriors Draymond Green during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

After a dun upstart season in 2021-2022 following the acquisitions of DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso, and Lonzo Ball, the Chicago Bulls suddenly look like a team without a direction this year. A combination of injuries and players not meeting expectations have Chicago sitting at 11-15 and just outside of the playoff picture at this juncture. If their struggles continue, President Arturas Karsinovas may decide to blow things up and launch a new rebuild in his vision — even if the Bulls’ pick is only top-four protected this year.

If so, the Sixers would be wise to put in a call for Alex Caruso, who would be a significant buoy for the Sixers’ defense and off-ball scoring. Watching him and De’Anthony Melton hound opposing backcourts would be an absolute delight.

Washington Wizards | Will Barton

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 26: Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton (5) before playing the Los Angeles Clippers an NBA game on December 26, 2021, at Arena in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by John McCoy/Icon Sportswire)

The Washington Wizards have been astoundingly predictable during the Bradley Beal-era, too good to land a significant draft pick, too bad to present themselves as a real threat in any postseason setting. The team continues to retool around their superstar shooting guard to no avail. Perhaps this will finally be the season that the Wizards embrace the tank, rather than accidentally falling face-first into it again.

Should the Wizards look to sell at the deadline, the Sixers should put out a feeler for Will Barton, who’s starting to show signs of life and would theoretically provide floor-spacing, secondary playmaking, and wing defense. Philly would love to have Kyle Kuzma, but his improved play will warrant a price tag that’s simply out of the Sixers’ budget.

Charlotte Hornets | Dennis Smith Jr.

CHARLOTTE, NC – OCTOBER 31: Dennis Smith Jr. (8) of the Charlotte Hornets drivers to the basket during a basketball game between the Charlotte Hornets and the Sacramento Kings on October 31, 2022 at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire)

With LaMelo Ball spending so much time on the injury report, the Charlotte Hornets may not have to be sellers to be serious contenders in the Victor Wembenyama sweepstakes, but they do still have an assortment of veteran contracts that they should be looking to shed.

One such player that should be obtainable for the Sixers would be Dennis Smith Jr., who’s been one of the best point-of-attack defenders in the entire league this season. He’d be an excellent addition to their guard rotation, particularly if Shake Milton is shipped off elsewhere.

Detroit Pistons | Alec Burks

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Head Coach Brett Brown talks with Philadelphia 76ers Guard Alec Burks (20) during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

Like Charlotte, the Detroit Pistons might not have to do much tinkering to ensure that they remain in the bottom of the standings with Cade Cunningham slated for season-ending surgery. But they should be able to garner plenty of future draft capital and/or young talent should they sell off their veteran talent.

Every contender will likely put in calls for Bojan Bogdanovic, and rightly so, as he’s thriving as the Pistons’ de facto top option with Cunningham shelved. The Sixers won’t have the ammunition to outgun some of the teams that will be chasing after the sharpshooter. They should, however, inquire about Alec Burks, who’s sneakily averaging 13.5 points and 1.9 assists while shooting 38 percent from deep. He’ll be a welcome addition to Philly’s wing depth and should play well off of the Sixers’ on-ball scorers.

Utah Jazz | Malik Beasely

Utah Jazz guard Malik Beasley, left, pulls in a rebound as Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) defends in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Utah Jazz have been the Indiana Pacers of the Western Conference: a team that fans and analysts expected to tank hard but are instead firmly entrenched in the playoff picture a quarter into the season. As constructed, the Jazz simply have too much talent to free fall towards the bottom of the West, and they should be looking to sell high on their veterans while they’re hot.

Most of the Jazz’s hoopers have played their way out of the Sixers’ budget. If they’re able to swing a deal for Malik Beasley — who would bring movement shooting, athleticism, and secondary creation — they’d be lucky to add his gifts to their offensive arsenal.

San Antonio Spurs | Josh Richardson

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Guard Josh Richardson (0) brings the ball up the court during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

The San Antonio Spurs are doing fine in their tank even with the small amount of veteran talent on their roster but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t capitalize on their established players while they can. Jakob Poeltl would make for the best center rotation in maybe league history with Joel Embiid, but he doesn’t fill any of the Sixers’ needs and is probably out of their price range.

A Josh Richardson return might cause some eyes to roll at first, but he’s been quietly excelling as the Spurs’ sage leader. He’s currently stroking over 37 percent of his three-balls while showcasing the all-around game that once made him a highly coveted wing. He could be a major addition to the Sixers’ ranks if he can bring that play to Philadelphia.