- Sixers missed out on a James Harden trade
- Daryl Morey could yet deal Ben Simmons for an All-Star
- Which players could become available?
The Philadelphia 76ers were outbid in the James Harden sweepstakes. With the Brooklyn Nets completing a Harden trade, Philadelphia are sticking with the Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid core for the foreseeable future.
That’s how it seems, at least. Daryl Morey is no stranger to a surprise trade. He will make drastic changes if required, and the Harden saga showed Simmons is not untouchable. Many believe it’s a matter of time before Simmons and Embiid are broken up. Simmons’ lack of offensive development is holding the Sixers back from legitimate title contention as Embiid hits his peak years.
If Morey takes that view, a Simmons trade is inevitable. Maybe it’s only a few weeks away. Trading the former first overall pick isn’t the only way to add star power to this Sixers roster, however.
Here are three All-Stars the Sixers could trade for – one using Simmons, two keeping Simmons, Harris and Embiid.
Trading for Bradley Beal is the Harden alternative. It will again require the Sixers to give up Simmons, but Beal fits better with Embiid’s timeline and is more accustomed to playing a role in the offense rather than being the offense.
Acquiring Beal would likely come cheaper than Harden. Philly would not have to relinquish so many future picks and young players. Beal’s contract is also considerably smaller. He is expected to be the next true superstar to appear on the trade market – the Sixers will once again be at the center of trade rumors if Beal becomes available.
Pairing Beal with Embiid doesn’t elevate the Sixers as drastically as Harden would have done on paper. The fit is possibly better, though, and keeping talented youngsters like Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle and Shake Milton is important for a roster which has been thin at times.
The Sixers can trade for Kyle Lowry without giving up Simmons or Harris. A package of Terrance Ferguson, Danny Green and Mike Scott works on the salary side. It’s then a question of how many picks are required for what is ultimately a rental. A protected first would likely be enough.
Toronto’s awful start to the season might force Masai Ujiri’s hand. Losing Lowry for nothing in free agency is fine if they’re contending, but trading the franchise point guard becomes a very realistic possibility if the Raptors don’t turn things round soon.
Lowry would surely be happy to return to Philadelphia. His combination of shooting, playmaking and elite defense is exactly what the Sixers need.
If a Lowry trade cannot be pulled off, Daryl Morey could turn his attention to his former backcourt partner. DeMar DeRozan is also heading for free agency – his $27.7 million salary will again require the Sixers to give up Seth Curry or Danny Green with other salary filler. DeRozan is not an obvious fit, and he’s not exactly a Morey player, given his reluctance to take threes.
DeRozan might harm their spacing, but he’s made progress as a playmaker. The Sixers missed shot creation in the playoffs as much as they did shooting.
This one is a longshot. There’s no guarantee swapping DeRozan for Green makes the Sixers better. It’s the sort of trade which is easier to justify if the Sixers had salary to throw in that did not weaken their starting five.