The 2023-2024 NBA season is nearly here, yet the trade rumor mill continues to churn. In addition to such notable names on the market like Damian Lillard and the Sixers‘ own James Haden, the Indiana Pacers are now searching for a new home for Buddy Hield after contract extension negotiations broke down earlier this week.
Just one day after the initial report that Hield was on the block, the first list of connected teams has now been made known. According to NBA Insider Shams Charania, the Sixers, along with the Dallas Mavericks and the Milwaukee Bucks, are the types of teams that could use a player of Hield’s talents, in addition to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The first bit to consider from this quick nugget is that Shams is not saying that the Sixers are in talks with the Pacers. Not now, and not necessarily recently. He is merely saying that they could use a player of his skill set and that he believes they have registered some level of interest at some point earlier this year. Could that be around last season’s trade deadline? At the beginning of the offseason? Last week? That much is yet to be revealed.
With that said, Charania is correct in that the Sixers could certainly benefit from a volume shooter like Hield. Since he entered the NBA back in 2016, Buddy Hield has consistently been an elite three-point shooter in the league, arguably the second greatest in that time.
Acquiring Buddy Hield makes sense, but is it that simple?
After losing Georges Niang and the almost certain eventual loss of James Harden, the Sixers have failed to replace their lost shooting. Hield would distinctly solve that problem for the upcoming season. There are a few complications to the idea of Philadelphia acquiring Hield. Namely, paying Hield going forward and what assets the Sixers would ship out in return.
While he is a pending free agent, which falls right in line with the Sixers’ 2024 offseason plans, that is also the reason Hield is available in the first place. Had contract negotiations not cooled off between the Pacers and Hield, he likely would be set to remain in Indiana. Part of that is financially based, and part is role-based.
Currently, the Sixers aim to maximize their cap space for next offseason in hopes of landing either a top-tier free agent or multiple second-tier free agents. While Hield’s expiring contract does play into that plan, his desire for an extension does not. Now, the Sixers could look to retain Hield, considering him to be a second(ish)-tier free agent, and sign another quality free agent name, but committing to one of their potential targets so early may limit their optionality. Then, there’s the role aspect to consider.
There does appear to be a starting spot open for Hield, but the defensive prospects of a lineup involving both himself and Sixers’ young star Tyrese Maxey are not overly encouraging. So, while there may very well be an involved role for him in Philadelphia, it may still not be the role he envisions for himself.
While Philadelphia could certainly use a Buddy Hield-type player, there has yet to be any true link between the two teams, at least as of this moment. It is however important to note two additional items: the James Harden trade saga has not ended, and the Pacers have shown previous interest in the Sixers’ Tobias Harris.
What could go into a Sixers trade for Buddy Hield?
The first and most obvious aspect to mention is that the James Harden trade is not yet complete. There is no telling yet what the end result of that deal may look like, but adding in the Indiana Pacers as a third team is not outside of the realm of possibility.
The more important detail, however, pertains to the previous reporting from Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer that the Pacers had “earnestly explored any starting-level, modern power forwards across the NBA,” including Tobias Harris. While the Sixers have given no official inkling they are actively looking to move Harris, it does seem as though they are open to the idea of at least discussing it. However, they would be more likely to entertain the idea if they acquire a starting-caliber forward in the (seemingly) eventual James Harden trade.
While the Sixers may be back in talks for Buddy Hield at some point, the priority remains resolving the James Harden issue. Whether that’s him staying, going, or secret option C (you don’t want secret option C), a resolution likely must be decided on before the Sixers truly pursue the idea.