The Philadelphia 76ers are a good team: 24-14 record, +4.1 net rating differential, which has them on pace to win 52 games (stats via Cleaning the Glass, which filters out garbage time). On Christmas Day, we saw the potential of their long, defensive-minded roster in a win over Milwaukee.
Are the Sixers title contenders? Halfway through the season, it doesn’t feel like it, and the lack of floor spacing is a key reason. Joel Embiid can force defenders to respect him at the arc, but he’s a beast in the paint — he’s shooting 70.7 percent at the rim and taking nearly 30 percent of his shots there — and that’s where Philly wants him operating. Ben Simmons has taken only 17 shots outside the key all season (hitting six of them). While Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and others can hit some threes, this team did not exactly replace J.J. Redick.
This is why Philadelphia GM Elton Brand is looking for shooters at the trade deadline, reports Kevin O’Conner at The Ringer.
The Sixers have expressed interest in a long list of wings, including Malik Beasley (Nuggets), Glenn Robinson III (Warriors), Davis Bertans (Wizards), E’Twaun Moore (Pelicans), and Andre Iguodala (Grizzlies), according to multiple league sources. Most interestingly, sources say the Sixers inquired about Robert Covington, whom they dealt to the Timberwolves in 2018 in the Jimmy Butler trade.
That all sounds great until one starts to break down what the Sixers have to offer in a trade.
The Sixers are loaded with picks, including their own first rounders after 2021, but matching salaries is hard unless Philly wants to give up quality parts of their rotation, such as Richardson or Mike Scott. Which they are not.
Other teams want rookie Matisse Thybulle, Philly is wisely rejecting those calls. Philly is trying to steer the conversation toward Zhaire Smith, but other teams look at his G-League play and reject that effort.
Brand will try to make another deadline move, but if the Sixers are going to be title contenders it will be more about internal improvement.