Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is a mad scientist, handyman, hoop specialist who never stops experimenting. So far in his career, he’s yet to reach the top, and his latest lapse should only give him more reason to deconstruct the roster and assess the pieces like Tony Stark upgrading his Iron Man suit.
This offseason features Morey with his most talented roster in at least the 2018 Western Conference runner-up Houston Rockets and his toughest challenge. In their current situation, the Sixers have a handful of needs to meet and few means to do so.
Once James Harden chooses his player option or signs an extension with the team, Philadelphia will be well over the salary cap. In the next draft, they hold only one selection with the 23rd overall pick. That leaves Morey with a rookie acquisition, minimum veteran offers and the mid-level ratepayer exception to try to improve the roster.
Of course, he can also try to acquire more talent via trade. With Harden, the Sixers have 13 players on the roster for next season. Danny Green, Isaiah Joe, Shake Milton, Paul Reed and Charles Bassey aren’t guaranteed but should expect to be in the league next year unless Morey brings in a cache of veterans looking for rings to bolster the bench. Even if their future is not with the Sixers, however, each player is valuable as a business asset and could be seen in a deal this offseason.
Here’s how much weight each Philadelphia 76er would have in a tiered trade negotiation:
The 2021-22 NBA MVP finalist is the heart and soul of the Sixers, as well as the undisputed best player on the team. Dubbed “the process,” Embiid is the culmination of all the pain and loss the Sixers and their fans had to endure to secure a player of his caliber. As long as he’s healthy, Philadelphia is never more than a stone’s throw away from title contention.
Still just 28 years old, the All-NBA great continues to add to his game. As one of the few players to lay claim to being the league’s biggest talent, there’s no reason why Embiid be traded unless it is his request.
The King’s Ransom
The sophomore guard has proven to be a legitimate force and one of the league’s brightest young stars in his second campaign. In 2021-22, Maxey averaged 17.5 points and 4.3 assists on 49% shooting from the field, 43 from deep and 87 from the boards. He is one of the most effective volume scorers in his position and won’t turn 22 until November.
He continued his meteoric rise in the playoffs and even raised his game under the brighter lights of the playoffs. In 12 games, he put up 20.8 points while keeping his shooting marks consistent by reducing 48/38/94.
There are very few truly untouchable players in this league, but Maxey is borderline at this level. Embiid’s age and injury history must be considered, making Maxey accessible for a literal king’s ransom, but nothing less. Negotiations would start at an established All-Star – something like Maxey for Bradley Beal straight, and honestly, that might not even be enough for Morey to pull the trigger.
Despite what NBA reactionaries and Twitter say, James Harden is still one of the most valuable players in the league. While some of his otherworldly scoring skills have moved closer to Earth’s atmosphere, he remains one of the most dangerous offensive powerhouses on a basketball court.
Even in a down year, the Beard averaged 18.6 points and 8.6 assists to go along with the Sixers’ 41/37/89 separate shots in the playoffs. As he gets healthier, fitter, and more used to his teammates and the new system, Harden should quickly establish himself as one of the great predators of the NBA next season. The only reasons it is a notch below Maxey in commercial value are due to its price, age and mileage.
Valuable Veteran / First Round Pick
The defensive specialist’s trade value could drop significantly if he doesn’t progress up front in his fourth year, but for now his stellar attacking point coverage and remaining potential make him a commodity in no any business.
One of the league’s most gifted scorers, Harris also proved to be a decent two-way player in his last playoff appearance. A wing with size that can rack up 18-25 points every night while contributing to defense is nothing to scoff at. His huge cap of over $37 million certainly lowers his value, but he expires at the end of the 2023-24 season, making him reasonably easy to move around for a decent return.
Danny Green, Georges Niang
Reliable role players who can be trusted in the playoffs are not easy to find. Both Green and Niang should break any team’s playoff rotation and should command at least a late first round in any negotiation.
Intriguing young players
The 28th overall pick in last year’s draft, the former Tennessee volunteer didn’t get a chance to really up or down in value last season, as he only saw six minutes of time on an NBA court. He did show some things with the Delaware Blue Coats, though, and should still hold a first-round pick limit value.
It took everything in my power not to mark BBall Paul as untouchable.
Bubble Shake forever, baby.
Furkan Korkmaz, Isaiah Joe, Charles Bassey
This whole section could change from day to day. Daryl Morey may have a hand tied behind his back due to Sixers salary cap, but he could be quite creative in the trade market. I would expect at least one trade to be completed before the start of the 2022-23 regular season and probably another before the February deadline.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire