By Connor Thomas
Yesterday, amidst a swirling of rumors and reports, the Sixers were largely quiet as the NBA trade deadline came and went. Despite the big names that the Daryl Morey and company were reportedly interested in acquiring – the Kyle Lowrys, Victor Oladipos, and Lonzo Balls of the world – ultimately the team ended up making one singular move, for a backup point guard. And man, was it perfect. The Sixers are currently the best team in the Eastern Conference by record, and are hitting their stride even without MVP candidate Joel Embiid. The bench unit has been one of the NBA’s best since the All-Star break, and the offensive and defensive ratings of the team in general have also been elite. This was never a team that required a full facelift. They were built this offseason to contend for an NBA title, and the formula that Morey developed when he first joined the team this past fall has been proven to work. There was significantly more risk in emptying your bench depth in pursuit of a replacement starter than there was in bolstering your 2nd unit with a veteran presence.
Clearly, Morey, Elton Brand, and the rest of the front office felt that the less risky option was the best one for the team in its current state. The other options, it turned out, were too pricey for a team that was ready to compete already. So the question simply became: who is the right fit for our bench unit given the strengths and weaknesses? Anyone who has followed the Sixers this year could immediately point to 2 potential roles to fill – a stretch 4 that could back up Tobias Harris and add some size, spacing, and wing defending to the reserves, and a proven ball handler who can both run an NBA offense and score when needed to initiate the offensive sets when Ben Simmons takes a rest. Morey elected to go with the latter, adding veteran George Hill, who is capable in both handling and scoring, to an already strong bench. The move was not only strong because of the need it filled, but also because of the pieces you gave up to bring Hill into the fold. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s haul from the trade included Tony Bradley, Terrance Ferguson, and 2 future 2nd round picks… in 2025 and 2026. The Knicks were also involved, receiving Vincent Poirier and a 2021 2nd round pick from the Sixers, sending Iggy Brazdeikis to Philadelphia and Austin Rivers to OKC. Terrance Ferguson also ended up in New York.
Brazdeikis is a throwaway, and so is Poirier, so the Knicks side of the deal is a wash to make the OKC portion of the trade work. Terrance Ferguson has rarely even touched the floor for the Sixers this year, and the team will have no issue with parting with him. The only player leaving that is a noticeable name for Sixers fans is Tony Bradley, who, despite Joel Embiid’s joking tweet asking for the Sixers to build around him, was on an expiring offer. The team would’ve had to give him a qualifying offer or cut him this coming offseason. Bradley was also playing incredibly efficient basketball, and while he is still only 23, he may never have as high of value as he has right now. It was the perfect time to move an over-performing young player for a veteran who will help you this year. At the end of the day, there was no splash move made. But the team made a slight tweak that improved on a point of need, and will still look to the buyout market to get a stretch 4 to solidify their playoff roster.
In Morey we trust.