Sixers: 4 Likely Trade Targets at the deadline

The NBA trade deadline is less than 48 hours away, and the Sixers are expected to be active upgrading their roster and shoring up their status as a contender. Here are the four most likely moves Daryl Morey could make:

Kyle Lowry

Lowry is the first and last name you hear in Sixers trade rumors, but any hope that a trade package would be afforded the hometown discount was dashed by reports that Lowry’s strong relationship with Jimmy Butler makes Miami an equally desirable landing spot, with Pat Riley pursuing him “harder than anyone”, according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor.

With the Sixers assuredly having to pay full price (likely a first and at least one of Maxey/Thybulle) on top of one of Seth Curry or Danny Green to match salaries, this conversation is less fluid than some have made it out to be. Adding Lowry and losing a current rotation piece makes it difficult to justify the package of assets Morey will need to give up (the net-impact of the trade won’t actually equal the value we’ll be trading for).

Does this mean that Morey should turn his focus elsewhere? Absolutely not. When push comes to shove the roster is better with Lowry on it, and as someone who has passionately argued in favor of adding top-end talent at the total expense of depth/rotation pieces, I’ll be comfortable justifying this move if it happens. With that, Morey would be wise to kick the tires elsewhere before settling for a 35-year old guard on an expiring deal.

George Hill

Hill has been linked to Philly for awhile, but the first official report indicating that Morey has inquired about the veteran guard surfaced this morning when Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that the Sixers are one of three teams (along with the Lakers and Clippers) expressing interest before Thursday’s deadline.

Hill obviously doesn’t move the needle like a Lowry would, but he’s a stabilizing presence in the rotation and would bring more championship experience to the roster. He can be the secondary playmaker the offense has needed at times, and he’s one of the more accomplished catch-and-sheet threats in the league (with plenty of playoff reps to boot).

We know what he’ll bring to the table offensively, and that’s mostly what the Sixers would be trading for; but for a roster that is jarringly light on competent on-ball defenders—namely at the PoA on penetrating guards—Hill provides just enough of that ability to have appeal here. He won’t be a “stopper” by any means, but he‘ll provide better defense at the point of attack than what we currently have, and he obviously has the two-way appeal that Thybulle doesn’t.

After the PJ Tucker deal I’m having a hard time gauging the trade market value of players like Hill, but his price likely has a ceiling of at a late-first (whichever of LAC/LAL/PHI ponies up their pick can likely have him) with a handful of high seconds/pick swaps being the more realistic compensation.

Evan Fournier

Fournier has yet to be linked to the Sixers officially, but the Magic have already indicated that between him and Terrance Ross, Fournier is the more attainable piece (this was always assumed given his expiring contract) and Morey would be foolish not to be in play here.

I’ve written extensively on Fournier and have been banging the drum for him for a while. He’s somewhat underrated as a product of playing in Orlando, and he provides a sneaky dynamic offensive skillset at 6’7” that sees him shoot from deep, get to/finish around the rim, and create for others all at a high level. Deadeye shooting, penetration, and secondary playmaking all in one—what’s not to like?

Defensively, Fournier is less ideal than most, but his mix of size and athleticism allows him the versatility to guard multiple positions and offensive roles. I discussed Hill as someone who isn’t ideal defensively but is an upgrade from what we presently have, and Fournier falls into that same basket.

Long story short, he’d be the clear fourth best player on this roster, and I’ll even argue that he’s the ideal trade target for the Sixers. While I can’t be fully sure of his cost, his expiring contract means he won’t break the bank—our late first rounder and a couple matching contracts (Scott, Ferguson, Bradley) should get this done.

Wayne Ellington

Ellington isn’t in the class of the previous three names, but his potential impact can’t be overlooked. While his skillset is somewhat redundant with Seth Curry, Ellington has a much quicker trigger (closer to Redick, Bellineli) and operates at a higher-volume than Curry does.

Ellington is shooting over 42% on 9.9 threes per 36 minutes (1.09 off-screen points per possession) and is in the 99th percentile of the NBA in 3PT gravity. He’s one of a few interesting bench pieces Detroit has to offer at the deadline, and while he’ll be targeted by a number of contenders, he should still be cheap enough to be had for a second rounder or two. Though he hasn’t officially been linked to Philly through reports, as a hometown kid it’s not hard to make the connection here.

He isn’t someone who would be relied on for heavy minutes (just like Seth/JJ/Belli shouldn’t be) but he’d be a reliable pitch off the bench as a sharpshooter running off-screens that the roster has lacked ever since JJ left. In terms of impact Ellington doesn’t move the needle, but at the very least he gives Doc another number to call when Embiid is playing with the second unit.

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