As the drumbeat of the NBA offseason marches along (at least for most of the league) Sixers fans continue to offer theories on how Daryl Morey can improve the roster for next season. With the team over the salary cap and thus limited in what they can do financially, one popular option for the front office to consider is a sign-and-trade for Kyle Lowry.
Without cap space they’ll need Toronto’s help to facilitate any deals, but the good news for the Sixers is that most of Lowry’s suitors fall in that same basket (except for Miami and New York, who have the cap room to sign him outright as a free agent). If either of the Knicks or Heat offers the max or a near-max contract (and as long as Lowry’s content on playing there) then they’re in the driver seat for his services. Otherwise, the Sixers are one of a handful of teams in play for a sign-and-trade.
It’s important to understand that whichever team comes to terms with Lowry will need to send something of value to Toronto in return for their role in facilitating said deal, but that package will by no means be of equal value to what they would get under normal circumstances. Once Lowry chooses to sign somewhere, the Raptors will do right by him as long as they’re properly compensated (this is standard operating procedure for sign-and-trades in the NBA).
What would the Raptors expect compensation to look like?
The rule of thumb for sign-and-trade compensation is 50% of whatever the return would be in a standard trade. For example, when the Sixers helped facilitate Jimmy Butler’s decision to sign with the Heat in 2019, they were able to add Josh Richardson in return for that favor—a value of about 50% of the Dario Saric/Robert Covington package that they originally traded to acquire Butler.
What would that look like for the Sixers?
The base of any deal will include George Hill and the team’s $8.1 million trade exception in order to make the salaries match—if, for example, Lowry agrees to $20 million annually, the Sixers need to send at least $16 million in returning salary. On top of that, they’ll need to attach one or two modestly valued assets in return. Shake Milton and the 28th overall pick should do the trick, and if they squeeze Morey for a future lottery-protected first then so be it.
There’s a handful of contenders who believe Lowry is the missing piece to their Finals puzzle, and that could very well drive up his cost in a sign-and-trade, but it’s important to remember that as a free agent Lowry has the leverage here. Once he decides on a landing spot then Toronto doesn’t have much room to dictate terms—from their perspective, any compensation is better than having him sign in New York or Miami and getting nothing in return (they’ll take what they can get and run).
Sixers would-be rotation:
- Kyle Lowry
- Danny Green*
- Tobias Harris
- Ben Simmons
- Joel Embiid
- Seth Curry
- Matisse Thybulle
- Tyrese Maxey
- Furkan Korkmaz*
- (Mid-level exception)
- Dwight Howard*/Paul Reed
* indicates pending Free Agent (can be re-signed using Bird rights)
This is obviously an improved rotation, and there’s really no argument against signing (trading for) Lowry if an affordable cost ($20-25 AAV) is on the table. While there’ll be a lot of teams in play for him, the Sixers have added appeal as his hometown club. Though he likely isn’t willing to take a discount to play here, Morey and the front office are squarely in the driver’s seat for his services amongst the many sign-and-trade suitors who’ll be after him.