The NBA trade deadline is just over a week away, and so the conversation surrounding the big day has continued ratcheting up, even for the Philadelphia 76ers. Rumors, reports, and of course, mock trades involving the Sixers have become more and more prevalent, including one recent mock trade that is quite interesting, if not insanely controversial.
The “Dunc’d on Basketball” NBA podcast by Nate Duncan, Danny Leroux, and Dan Feldman held their annual Mock Trade Deadline with guest Kevin Pelton. What is a “Mock Trade Deadline”? Well, imagine a Model UN where the 30 teams in the NBA are split between four representatives and actively negotiate trades.
For those who fiddle with NBA trade machines or constantly reset their 2k franchises so they can negotiate trade after trade after trade (I am guilty on both counts), this activity is as thrilling as it can be maddening.
In the first part of this year’s episode, a trade involving Philadelphia occurred far sooner than many perhaps expected, one that will certainly create much disaccord among Sixers fans.
It all began as Nate Duncan, who was representing the Toronto Raptors, was approached by Dan Feldman, representing the Sixers, to gauge interest in a deal involving young star Tyrese Maxey Tobias Harris. After some negotiation, the full deal is as follows using Fanspo’s NBA Trade Machine:
Sixers/Raptors Blockbuster deal
A simple two-player for two-player swap sees the Sixers parting ways with their beloved young star and a critical leader and role player in Harris. That is quite the package to part ways with for Philadelphia; however, the return is nothing to sneeze at either.
OG Anunoby has grown into one of the most impactful defenders at one of the league’s most critical positions. He’s no one-sided player either, as he’s averaged 17 points per game while slashing 45.0/36.4/79.0 over the past two seasons.
This combination of skill sets has turned the 25-year-old wing into one of the premier names being discussed at the deadline. The previously reported asking price was said to be three first-round picks. In Tyrese Maxey, the Raptors would have a significantly more proven commodity who is still on an affordable deal. That same team-friendly contract makes the addition of Tobias Harris much more palatable, as does Harris’ leadership capabilities and fit alongside the remaining Raptors roster.
Anunoby alone is not enough for an agreement to be reached, however, as the Sixers would require more value in return, and the Raptors would need to send out more matching salary. This is where Gary Trent Jr. comes into the picture.
Acquired in a swap with the Portland Trail Blazers, the sent-out Norm Powell, Trent Jr. has taken flight with the Raptors averaging 18.2 points while shooting 37.4% from deep on an impressive 7.5 attempts per game.
With the Sixers, Trent would be able to fill several roles. He’s a talented shooter both in the catch-and-shoot and as a movement shooter. He can space the floor around James Harden and Joel Embiid waiting to receive the quick dish, or he can play the Redick/Curry role with Embiid up at the top of the key.
Both players Philadelphia would receive could make an immediate impact, and potentially, they would raise the Sixers’ ceiling for this individual season. I preface it as such because reports have indicated that Trent Jr. will be opting out of his contract when the offseason arrives. As it stands, he is set to make over $18.5 million next season but will likely receive a higher-paying offer should he enter the upcoming free agency pool, where he would arguably be a top-10 player available.
Philadelphia could resign him in the offseason as they would own his “Bird Rights” after the deal is made, allowing them to exceed the salary cap with their offer. Anunoby, meanwhile, would be on the books at least for next season though he would also likely decline his Player Option that would come into play during the 2024 offseason.
It’s also important to note that the Sixers would save $5.4 million this season, which would allow them to avoid the luxury tax, something the team has reportedly been focused on. It is possible Philadelphia could pursue more and find a way to include Chris Boucher as well (while sending back more salary), but the Raptors would likely have to be heavily focused on avoiding the tax themselves to consider that.
This trade is, of course, not rumored, it is not reported, but it remains interesting nonetheless due to the way it benefits both teams. Is it something either team would consider? Perhaps, perhaps not.
Regardless, it does get one thinking about the future of Tyrese Maxey with the Sixers and the difficult decision between preserving the future or maximizing the present. Something that the organization will have to continuously ponder until they finally reach a decision.