If Damian Lillard is a legitimate option for the Sixers, should consider trading Tyrese Maxey? Or are they right to consider him off-limits?
The Damian Lillard trade drama could be coming to a head with media day for the majority of the NBA coming up on October 2nd. Recent rumors have stated that talks between the Portland Trail Blazers and other teams started over the weekend. The Miami Heat are still Lillard’s preferred destination, but the Trail Blazers haven’t really entertained the Heat’s offer. ESPN and Andscape Insider Marc Spears reported,
“The Toronto Raptors enter this week as the front-runners to trade for Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, two high-ranking NBA team executives told ESPN’s Andscape.”
He also mentioned that teams like the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers have also shown interest in trading for Lillard. If the Sixers are involved, the best asset that they have to offer is Tyrese Maxey. If the chance to acquire Lillard is real, would it be worth trading Maxey?
The Case for the Sixers Trading Maxey
The 76ers front office has denied shopping Maxey in any potential deal with Portland, but when you take a look at the roster, Maxey is the only real asset. Yes, the 76ers are trying to gather more assets in a James Harden deal, but all talks with the Clippers have stalled. If the 76ers are looking to make a move for Dame Dolla, trading their prized guard is a must.
Joel Embiid is coming into this season following his first MVP award and expects to continue to be a contender in the Eastern Conference. If his co-star James Harden is dealt and the 76ers do not perform well this season, the rumors of him requesting a trade will begin to heat up. There have already been rumors about the NY Knicks being front runners to acquire Embiid if he does ask out. Embiid, whose former agent, Leon Rose, is now the president of the Knicks and is sure to be interested in trading for him if things were to fall off the rails in Philly.
With rumors floating around about Embiid asking out next summer, the Sixers have to do everything they can to keep this team in contention and to keep him happy. If that means trading Tyrese Maxey, the 76ers have to do it, no matter how difficult it would be. A move like that would signal to Embiid that they are all in, and it would likely be the last move they could make to help bring a title to Philadelphia within the next few years.
The Case Against the Sixers Trading Maxey
Throughout the Joel Embiid Era, the Sixers have mortgaged future assets in order to improve the team and help them win a championship. They have traded future draft picks and young talent and still haven’t been able to advance past the second round. Tyrese Maxey is their last asset, and they would almost certainly have to include him in any deal for Damian Lillard. If it would cost the Sixers Maxey in order to get Lillard, they should walk away and keep their home-grown talent.
Maxey has improved every season he has been Sixers, and the expectation should continue to be the same. He increased his scoring average over the last three seasons, jumping from 8.0 points per game to 17.5 to last season’s career-high of 20.3 ppg. He also has grown from a 30 percent three-point shooter to a 43 percent three-point in a matter of three seasons. If Harden does not return to the 76ers, it is all but assured that Maxey will take another leap for this team.
The former Kentucky star has a chance to grow into an all-star caliber player, and the Sixers should wait to see how he progresses. Will he turn into Damian Lillard, a Top 75 player of all time? Not likely, but he is only 22, and his work ethic shows that he has the trajectory of a multi-time all-star. Maybe Embiid still asks out after this season or the next, but if he does, they will still have a star-quality young player who could lead them into the next iteration of this team.