Sixers Trade Machine: 3 potential moves the 76ers could make at the deadline

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Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid (11) dunks in front of Sacramento Kings forward Chimezie Metu and center Trey Lyles (41) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Minneapolis. The Timberwolves won 117-110. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

One of the NBA’s worst-kept secrets is the fact that the Sixers and President Daryl Morey are in the market for a backup center, as in-house options Montrezl Harrell and Paul Reed haven’t lived up to expectations. Harrell’s clearly lost a step athletically and provides little else consistently aside from energy, oftentimes misplaced energy at that. Fan-favorite “BBall Paul” hasn’t shown the basketball IQ necessary to be a reliable contributor for a team who has aspirations of hoisting the Larry O’Brien at the end of this season.

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The Sixers have been unusually quiet in trade talks up until now, especially for a Daryl Morey-controlled squad, but it appears that the floodgates have started to leak. Numerous reports have Philadelphia now linked to some of the most popular available big men on the trading block: Jarred Vanderbilt, Naz Reid, and Nerlens Noel.

Each of these centers would be a significant defensive upgrade over both Harrell and Reed and would be a significant boon for the Sixers whenever their Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Joel Embiid needs a breather. Finding a suitable understudy for him has been atop Philadelphia’s targets for this trade deadline along with another two-way wing — to provide the perimeter stopper that Danuel House Jr. was supposed to be — and an additional playmaker to keep the offense afloat when James Harden and Embiid are resting.

With that being said, here are some possible trade outlines to acquire each of the Sixers three big men trade targets.

Jarred Vanderbilt

Philadelphia 76ers receive: F/C Jarred Vanderbilt

Utah Jazz receive: G Jaden Springer, F/C Paul Reed, 2023 2nd-Round Pick via ATL, CHA, or BKN, 2027 2nd-Round Pick via PHI

According to CBS’s Michael Kaskey-Blomain, the Utah Jazz have remained steadfast in their first-round pick asking price for Jarred Vanderbilt. While Philadelphia isn’t able to deal out any of their first-rounders until 2029, they do have some first-round pick adjacent assets that are expendable.

Jaden Springer was the 28th overall pick just two drafts ago, and while he hasn’t been able to see the floor consistently for the Sixers, does have potential as a heady scoring guard. In nine games for the Delaware Blue Coats this season in the G-League, he’s averaged nearly 18 points and two assists on 54 percent shooting. If Utah intends to tear it down at this year’s trade deadline, they could be a perfect situation for Springer to earn NBA reps and mature his game.

The same goes for Paul Reed who has shown exciting flashes in spurts but just isn’t quite ready to be the full-time backup for possibly the league’s greatest center on a title team. He’d make for a young and promising center rotation with Utah’s rookie standout, Walker Kessler.

To sweeten the pot, the Sixers throw in two second-round selections, one of which could wind up being in the top 30s of the 2023 draft depending on how the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, and Brooklyn Nets close out their season.

This deal would land Philadelphia a defensive stalwart who can either play alongside Montrezl Harrell and offer him assistance on defense or takeover as the full-time second-string center. The Sixers add a legitimate playoff rotation piece without sacrificing any of their core pieces or first-round picks.

Naz Reid

Philadelphia 76ers receive: F/C Naz Reid

Minnesota Timberwolves receive: F/C Montrezl Harrell, G Shake Milton, 2023 2nd-Round Pick via ATL, CHA, or BKN, 2027 2nd-Round Pick via PHI

Building a trade package for the Minnesota Timberwolves is much different than crafting one to deal with the Utah Jazz. While the Jazz just tore it down by dealing away franchise cornerstones Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the T-Wolves went all-in on their young core by trading for the Stifle Tower in the off-season, giving up one of the richest hauls in NBA history in order to do so.

After a rocky start, Minnesota has started to turn their season around, surprisingly without All-NBA sharpshooting big man, Karl-Anthony Towns. Even with their better play lately, the Wolves currently sit in the eighth seed and have plenty of roster holes that need to be addressed if they’re to become the title contenders they hoped to be when they acquired Gobert.

The former DPOY was brought in to improve the Wolves defense, and he’s done his job exceptionally well, turning Minnesota into a top-10 defensive unit. The problem has been their offense, with and without KAT. Their woes on that end of the court are only magnified when their reserves come in, as they rank 17th in the league in bench points per game with only 34.2 per outing.

This trade would bring some much needed firepower onto Minny’s bench while opening more minutes for Towns to play stretch-five upon his return. Shake Milton and Harrell can bring their pick-and-roll prowess to the Timberwolves and instantly upgrade the lethality of their reserve attack. They also add a couple of second-round picks that they can use to further bolster their roster down the road.

In return, the Philadelphia 76ers receive one of the best backup big men in the entire league in Naz Reid. His two-way abilities will be a massive boon for the Sixers bench unit. His talent speaks for itself, as Reid likely wouldn’t even be available if the Wolves weren’t already handing out over $72 million per year to KAT and Gobert.

Nerlens Noel

Philadelphia 76ers receive: C Nerlens Noel

Detroit Pistons receive: G/F Matisse Thybulle, G/F Danuel House Jr.

Nerlens Noel is the least exciting option of the three, but it would be kind of heartwarming to see another member of “The Process” Sixers added to their title run this season. Noel has turned himself into a solid two-way role player, capable of aptly defending the paint while spacing the floor vertically on offense.

While he’s nothing more than a traditional run-and-jump center, he excels in his role — one that’s become increasingly harder to fill over the years. His athleticism will be extremely welcome on the Sixers pine, as the roster is sorely lacking of physical specimens of his nature.

Aside from the nostalgia Noel’s homecoming would bring, another added bonus of this deal over the first two is the fact that the Sixers would have to give up significantly less assets. Noel is the oldest of the three targets, is on the worst contract, and is arguably the least talented.

Sending the Detroit Pistons Matisse Thybulle, an elite defensive wing prospect, should be more than enough to get it done. Danuel House Jr. is included to make the money work, although Detroit could certainly try to rebuild his trade value in an effort to flip him before his contract is up.

AP Photo/Craig Lassig