The Philadelphia 76ers have started this year off much better than expected, beginning the season with an 8-2 record. Currently, the team is 12-7, still holding the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference, despite having dealt with some injuries and absences.
Those changes in the lineup have contributed to their up-and-down play over the last two weeks or so. Key players such as Nicolas Batum, Kelly Oubre Jr., and Joel Embiid have all missed multiple games, altering Philadelphia’s rotation, but the areas where the team needs to improve go beyond that.
One glaring issue the Sixers have dealt with so far this season is the lack of playmaking in the second unit. When either Tyrese Maxey or De’Anthony Melton isn’t on the floor, Philadelphia has struggled to get the team into the right sets on offense or to put pressure on the rim.
The bench backcourt the Sixers play now includes Patrick Beverley and Jaden Springer. Both have made their mark defensively and have even contributed to the offense every once in a while.
With that being said, Philadelphia could use a jolt of playmaking and guard play for the second unit, which plays mostly with Joel Embiid. There have been rumors that have linked the Sixers to disgruntled Bulls star Zach LaVine, but the interest may not be mutual at the moment.
Currently, it seems that Philly is looking to trade for players who are on expiring deals, to help preserve their max cap space for the summer. Take a look at three trades that could help the Sixers in the short term:
Hayward brings the buzz
Marcus Morris Sr.
Danuel House Jr.
Kenyon Martin Jr.
*Trade cannot occur until after Jan. 22 due to Ish Smith’s trade eligibility requirements.
In this scenario, the Sixers trade for Gordon Hayward, who could give the Sixers another wing player, but a wing with guard skills. Hayward has been underwhelming after his time in Utah due to a number of various injuries.
This season, Hayward is averaging 14.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game for the Hornets and could bring some of the playmaking to Philadelphia, helping to lead the second unit. He could provide help to lead the offense with Joel Embiid and some of the reserves when Maxey and Melton go to the bench.
A lot of teams have decided to double and triple team Embiid when he is in there with the reserves and force others to beat him. With Oubre Jr. out, the Sixers have struggled during those moments. While the Sixers will be getting their prized offseason addition back tonight, Hayward could still assist and not only help set up the offense but showcase some shot creation as well.
Betting on Hayward to remain healthy is the biggest gamble here because there is no doubt that his talent could help the Sixers. Is it worth trading some of their depth for Hayward?
Sixers get help from Detroit
Danuel House Jr.
Second Round Pick (PHI)
In this scenario, Philadelphia trades for Monte Morris, a guard who could definitely help lead the bench mob while Tyrese Maxey is resting. Morris is a solid guard who is a career double-digit scorer, a solid defender, and, most importantly, someone who takes care of the ball. He averages less than a turnover a game for his career and that’s vital for a team who struggles with turnover from its stars some nights.
Morris was expected to be counted on in Detroit but has been injured and hasn’t played this season. He is apparently out another 4-6 weeks after receiving a PCP injection in his quad about two weeks to help with his current injury. The Sixers would have to wait until he is healthy to trade for him to ensure he can play and contribute. If Morris isn’t available due to health, Philadelphia may have to settle for a player like Alec Burks from the Pistons.
Wheeling and dealing with Washington
Marcus Morris Sr.
2024 second-round pick (via NYK)
2029 second-round pick (via POR)
Tyus Jones would be the perfect backup for Tyrese Maxey this season. He is on an expiring deal and if this works out, could resign to be Maxey’s backup long-term. Jones is averaging 10.8 points and 4.9 assists per game this season for a Wizards squad in the middle of a terrible season. His teammates leave much to be desired in Washington, and he has shown how much of an asset he could be for a winning team.
With Ja Morant missing numerous amount of games for injury and suspension last season, Jones stepped up and helped the Grizzlies keep pace in the Western Conference. He would be able to help get the offense into sets, run pick and roll with Joel Embiid, and get other guys involved. He isn’t the best defender but some of his defensive mishaps could be erased with Embiid roaming around the rim.
The Sixers will have their eyes on the trade market as the season goes on. They are equipped with the contracts and assets to make a big deal or multiple smaller deals. Morey knows sooner or later that, he will have to upgrade the bench with some playmaking.