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With the NBA’s February 7th Trade Deadline approaching, the Philadelphia 76ers and GM Elton Brand could look to improve the roster to ensure a deep playoff run. The Sixers are currently 32-18 on the season and sit at 4th in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia made a splash earlier this season when they traded Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton. Since acquiring Butler, the 76ers have gone 24-12 with the 12th ranked defense and 4th ranked offense in the NBA, scoring an average of 117.2 points per game.
While those stats don’t necessarily reflect a team that needs to upgrade much, the main complaint this season has been the production coming off the bench. Markelle Fultz hasn’t been active since November 19th, and the 2018 16th overall pick Zhaire Smith is starting to practice with the G-League affiliate Delaware Blue Coats. This has allowed time for players such as Jonah Bolden, Mike Muscala, Landry Shamet, and T.J. McConnell to get some quality minutes in their absence.
On January 15th, the Philadelphia 76ers signed Corey Brewer to a 10-day contract, later extending him to another 10-day contract on January 25th. Brewer has played impressively in his 4 outings, averaging 10.8 points, 3 rebounds, 2.2 steals, and 1.8 assists per game. It has been the energy that Corey Brewer has brought to Philadelphia that has impressed the fans and teammates the most. By extending Brewer to another 10-day contract, Philadelphia was able to maintain flexibility in the case someone becomes available in the trade market. With bench production and perimeter defense being the biggest needs, here are 5 trade options the Philadelphia 76ers could make before the Trade Deadline:
5. Dennis Smith Jr. (Dallas Mavericks)
Since the arrival of franchise cornerstone Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks have been rumored to want to move on from Dennis Smith Jr, due to the clash between the two’s style of play. Since Markelle Fultz is out with thoracic outlet syndrome and there is no timetable for a return, the 76ers need a consistent presence at the point guard position. Dennis Smith Jr. is averaging 12.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game this season, and while those numbers have dipped since his rookie campaign last year, Smith’s efficiency has risen from 44.9 to now 49.3. Dennis still needs to improve on the defensive side, but he has made strides so far this season and is still only 21 years of age.
With two years remaining on his rookie deal, Smith Jr. could make an impact with the Philadelphia 76ers before his next big contract. The Dallas Mavericks would be receiving SG Zhaire Smith, and GM Elton Brand may need to include a draft pick to get the Mavericks to bite.
4. Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
Back in November, reports surfaced that SG Bradley Beal had frustrations after a “volatile practice” with the Washington Wizards. To make matters worse, Wizards PG John Wall went down with a season-ending heel injury, with reports of a possible fire sale if Washington decided to start a rebuild. Since Wall went down, Beal is averaging 27.9 points per game and has led Washington to an 8-5 record in 13 games. Bradley Beal is under contract until the 2020-2021 season and is owed nearly $56M over the next two seasons.
The Philadelphia 76ers would have a decision to make after this season, with Jimmy Butler becoming an unrestricted free-agent, Beal could provide a safety blanket in case Butler doesn’t re-sign this offseason.
This deal would see the the 76ers acquiring Bradley Beal in exchange for PG Markelle Fultz, SF Wilson Chandler and a 2019 second-round draft pick.
3. Thon Maker (Milwaukee Bucks)
Amid Joel Embiid’s MVP caliber season averaging 27.2 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game, the Philadelphia 76ers will need a healthy Embiid going into the playoffs. As of late, he has dealt with back tightness and recently got some scheduled rest against the Denver Nuggets.
On Saturday, ESPN reported that Thon Maker and his representatives had told the Milwaukee Bucks management that they preferred the franchise trade Maker to a team that would provide a bigger role. Since the arrival of new coach Mike Budenholzer, Maker has averaged 10 minutes and 3.8 points. Despite the reduction in minutes, he has increased his scoring and rebounding production per 36 minutes to 14.4 and 8.4 respectively.
With Joel Embiid seeing some rest before the playoffs, Maker could provide some quality minutes in the Sixer’s frontcourt rotation alongside Mike Muscala and Jonah Bolden.
The Philadelphia 76ers would be sending C Justin Patton, who is recovering from injury, in exchange for Thon Maker.
2. Noah Vonleh (New York Knicks)
After landing a role in the New York Knick’s starting lineup, Noah Vonleh has averaged 8.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game this season. According to ESPN, Vonleh is ranked 7th among 96 qualified power forwards in defensive real plus-minus. Shooting a 38.8% from beyond the arc and providing valuable defense that is necessary in Joel Embiid’s absence makes Vonleh a great addition for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Noah Vonleh is on a 1-year, $1.6M contract currently, and acquiring him from the Knicks shouldn’t require many assets in a trade. More than likely, Philadelphia could offer C Justin Patton and a second-round pick, which the Philadelphia 76ers own three of in 2019.
1. Kyle Kuzma, Lance Stephenson, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
This is more of a dark horse candidate of a trade, with reports stating that the Los Angeles Lakers are in search of adding a second superstar alongside LeBron James. At the right price, GM Magic Johnson could be willing to part with some of their younger players like Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball.
Within the Philadelphia 76ers having reports that Jimmy Butler “aggressively” confronted Coach Brett Brown about his role within the offense, Butler has been on “thin ice” within the franchise. While Butler is scheduled to be a unrestricted free agent this coming offseason, the 76ers could look to trade Butler in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Lance Stephenson, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to add a quality mix of veterans and young players before the playoffs.
The reason I stated that this was my dark horse candidate is because I believe Philadelphia won’t move on from Jimmy Butler after 36 games. However, the NBA is full of possibilities and sometimes GMs find the right asking price.