Philadelphia 76ers 2024 trade deadline primer

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Daryl Morey speaks during a news conference at the team’s NBA basketball practice facility, Friday, May 13, 2022, in Camden, N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

It’s that time of year again! Trade season is upon us in the NBA, with rumors flying through the air. The Philadelphia 76ers are expected to be right in the middle of the trade rumors this season as they look to capitalize on Joel Embiid’s historic start to the season, as well as Tyrese Maxey’s accession. The Sixers are currently third in the Eastern Conference with a chance to cement themselves as true contenders with the right move.

With the early season trade of James Harden, they were able to get traceable expiring contracts and two future first-round picks from the Los Angeles Clippers. Armed with a chest of assets, Daryl Morey looks to be aggressive as the deadline approaches.

Another factor that plays in the favor of the 76ers is the fact that they can potentially have maximum cap space next year to sign any potential free agents, which can be used in conversations around particular trades. That could help the front office’s leverage so they don’t use as many assets if the player they are negotiating for is a looming free agent.

Morey and the front office have the flexibility to either try to make a big splash or build around the margins to sure up some areas of weakness. Fans and the media are split on which approach makes the most sense for this club, but there are many options. Take a look at the teams that the 76ers may negotiate with to acquire a player(s) they deem to fit best:

Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls have three players that could be of interest to them in a realistic trade scenario. Zach Lavine is the first player that comes to mind, as he requested a trade earlier in the season. The Sixers were rumored to have interest in him, but more recently, many have said their interest in Lavine has cooled. Lavine’s market has cooled due to his contract and the remaining years and dollars he has due, plus his reputation for not having any sort of impact on the defensive end.

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) dribbles the ball during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Going after Lavine would likely burn Philadelphia’s future cap space for the summer, and they would have to be absolutely sure that he is a fit going forward, as flipping Lavine in the future could prove to be tough. He would surely help the Sixers on the offensive end, especially when Joel Embiid is out of the lineup, or either Embiid or Maxey can’t get going.

Another player on the Bulls’ roster that would fit the Philadelphia 76ers perfectly is Alex Caruso, who is a good two-player that many contenders will be calling about. Caruso’s ability to guard 1-4 and provide some offense could allow him to be a key contributor in the playoffs. He could play with Maxey or sub in as a ball handler when Maxey is on the bench. Caruso could command multiple first-round picks, which could keep the 76ers away.

Another player they could be interested in is former Sixer Andre Drummond, who has been in Chicago these last two seasons. Drummond was serviceable in Philadelphia, and with Paul Reed not playing up to expectations after resigning this summer, Philly could look to add some depth. Drummond has mentioned how much he loved being in Philadelphia, and the fans would welcome him back with open arms.

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks are rumored to be open to trading anyone on the roster outside of Trae Young and Jalen Johnson as the trade deadline approaches. A name several teams, including the 76ers, have been linked to is Dejounte Murray. Murray’s stint in the ATL hasn’t gone exactly as planned, and they are looking to move on quickly.

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) collects a pass as Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray (5) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 15, 2023, in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

There have been conversations throughout Sixers’ land about Murray’s fit with the team and weather could hinder Maxey’s growth. His fit may not be the cleanest, but it could provide the 76ers the kind of two-way presence they need. He could start alongside Maxey and run the offense when the young stud is on the bench. His salary will have Philadelphia pause for a moment, but if they could get him without exhausting their assets, the move should be made.

Another name to watch for is Bogdan Bogdanovic, who is under contract for two more years after this season, with a club option for the 2026-27 season. Bogdanovic is a true offensive threat and could bring a ton of shooting gravity and space for Embiid and Maxey. He is a willing and good outside threat and can attack the rim with some craftiness. His defense has some questions, but with Embiid roaming the paint, it could make up for any deficiencies in that area.

Toronto Raptors

The Philadelphia 76ers have been connected to potential deals with the Raptors since Nick Nurse became the head coach in Philly. They were previously connected to former Raptors’ player OG Annoy before he was traded to New York. They were also connected to all-star Pascal Siakam since the summer, but reports had cooled on his connection to Philadelphia until recently.

Toronto Raptors’ Pascal Siakam (43) goes up for a shot against Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris (12) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

NBA Insider Chris Haynes recently reported that the Sixers were one of the “prime” teams to look out for as a possible destination for the Raptors’ forward. Nick Nurse and Siakam were rumored to have issues in Toronto, but he could be the third star that Morey and company opt for. His fit with Embiid would be a little clunky, but he could bring some much-needed scoring and playmaking.

Philly could have some leverage in talks about what they give up Siakam because they could be a possible destination in free agency. Spacing would be in question with a move like this, but Morey would trusted to build spacing around their three main cogs.

Detroit Pistons

The lowly Detroit Pistons could be a major seller at the deadline in February. They are 3-35 with plenty of veterans on their roster that could help contenders. With the record that they have, the organization needs to lean into letting their young guys play and develop instead of letting veteran stunt their growth.

Detroit Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) steals the ball and brings the ball up court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

There are a few veterans that the 76ers could be interested in, including Bojan Bogdanovic and Monte Morris. Bogdanovic could bring some shooting and playmaking that could help Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey and bring some ball handling while Maxey sits. His contract is pretty reasonable and only partially guaranteed next season. Monte Morris has been injured all season, so he may not cost the Sixers much to acquire, but they would have to be sure of what type of player they are getting.

The Pistons were said to be looking for good veterans to help turn their ship around, and it was reported that they had an interest in Tobias Harris. Would the Sixers trade Tobias Harris, and would the Pistons look to pay a premium for the veteran forward? That would surely determine if Philly would listen to any offers from Detroit.

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets came into this year looking to build with their young stud Mikal Bridges, who they acquired in the Kevin Durant trade. The Nets made it to the playoffs last year but were swept out by the 76ers and haven’t made much improvement this season. If they continue to lose games, would Brooklyn’s management be willing to part with some of their players in exchange for salary cap relief or draft capital?

Brooklyn Nets’ Mikal Bridges dribbles the ball in the first half against the Philadelphia 76ers during Game 1 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs, Saturday, April 15, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

The obvious player the Philadelphia 76ers would have an interest in is Mikal Bridges, but the Nets are looking to build around him for the future. More realistic trade targets that could interest Philly include Cam Johnson and Dorian Finney-Smith, two wings that can contribute on both sides of the court.

Miami Heat forward Cole Swider, right, dives for a loose ball in front of Brooklyn Nets forward Dorian Finney-Smith during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Finney-Smith is your prototypical two-way wing who can defend guards and wings as well as space the floor. This season, he is averaging almost ten points per game while shooting 40 percent from three. He is in the second year of a four-year extension he signed in Dallas, and if they don’t see a fit long-term, they could opt to target another player.

Brooklyn Nets’ Cameron Johnson (2) dribbles the ball as Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid (21) defends in the first half during Game 1 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs, Saturday, April 15, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Johnson could be a nice young addition to the 76ers and could fit in nicely with Embiid and Maxey if Morey and company think he can blossom into a third “star.” Johnson is averaging just above 14 points per game and shooting 41 percent from three-point range. He isn’t the best defender, but he is long and has some athleticism.

With more usage or opportunity in Philly, Johnson could be projected to be better than Tobias Harris was during his career in Philadelphia. Johnson is in the first year of an extension and would likely take a fair number of assets to acquire. Would it be worth it?

Utah Jazz

Another team the 76ers could really be keeping an eye on as the deadline approaches. They have three players that could be of interest to Daryl Morey and the front office. The first name that stands out is Lauri Markkanen.

Utah Jazz’s Lauri Markkanen, left, goes up for a dunk as Philadelphia 76ers’ Nicolas Batum watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

He is an all-star who is having a second outstanding season in a row and could really unlock an offense built around Embiid and Maxey. He’s a 7’0 forward who can space the floor and create his own shot. He is a good rebounder and can be a secondary rim protector. He would be a dream fit if made available, and it would take almost every asset the Sixers have.

Philly could also be interested in Jordan Clarkson, who would be an offensive-minded guard off the bench and bring some ball handling and offense with the second unit. Clarkson could also play with Maxey and give the 76ers an offensive juggernaut in the backcourt.

Utah Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson shoots as Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey, left, watches during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Philadelphia. The Jazz won 120-109. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Kelly Olynyk comes to mind as a name the Sixers could want to trade for. He is a small ball center who has grit and can spread the floor. With Paul Reed struggling some nights and Mo Bamba not playing his best, the 76ers could look to try to get another center on the roster for the stretch run. He has an expiring contract and wouldn’t be tied to the franchise long-term if he doesn’t fit.

Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) drives as Utah Jazz forward Kelly Olynyk (41) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Ultimately, the Philadelphia 76ers will have to make a move if they want to be true contenders in the conference and for the championship. Morey has to be careful with their assets but also make the right move. All the pressure is on him to not waste a year of Embiid’s prime.