The John Kincade Show – Weekdays 6am – 10am

The John Kincade Show – Weekdays 6am – 10am

Daryl Morey finally executed the deal that Philadelphia 76ers fans knew would eventually come. The return package for James Harden from the Los Angeles Clippers included four players, four draft picks, a draft swap, and salary cap flexibility.

The Sixers also included P.J. Tucker and Filip Petrusev in the deal.

Evaluating The Return Package

Are the Sixers a better team than they were yesterday? It’s difficult to say. They lost a starter in Tucker and a relatively unknown piece in Petrusev. They also waived Danny Green for the roster flexibility to execute the deal.

Tucker averaged over 26 minutes in 11 postseason games for Philadelphia in 2023. He provided strong defense and physicality and veteran leadership. His offensive shortcomings diminished his value as a player, however, especially at age 38.

There’s no guarantee that the NBA players they acquired will even play for the 76ers let alone become key contributors. Expect to see some typical NBA salary cap gymnastics in the aftermath of this blockbuster deal.

What do the Clippers get? An aging former superstar who has been an unprofessional disruption to three different NBA teams since 2021.

Salary Cap Space and Future Flexibility

Bob Cooney spoke on The John Kincade Show about the return package for James Harden.

“None of this is helping them now. Are these things bundled together that maybe helps them get a player this year with all these assets? Maybe. Is there more to come. There probably has to be.” -Bob 

There is no significant advantage on the court for the 2023-24 Sixers in the immediate aftermath of the trade. The Clippers ultimately used their leverage to keep Terance Mann, who was at the center of trade rumors throughout the offseason.

The value of the trade is about the long-term future of an organization.

“Could it help in the future? Yes. It frees up money. You could use all of these assets maybe to get a player with the money you have later this season or maybe sometime soon.” -Bob

Will the Sixers be aggressive in free agency in 2024? They have the cap space to do it if any big names are interested in playing in Philadelphia.

Will they pursue a trade in season? What does each of these assets mean?

  • Marcus Morris

    Joel Embiid and Marcus Morris

    Marcus Morris is an accomplished NBA veteran who has played 850 regular-season and playoff games. The Philadelphia native might have something left in the tank after playing 65 games in 2022-23, but he hasn’t played in a game yet this season.

    His value in the trade has nothing to do with his fit in Philadelphia and everything to do with an annual salary of over $17 million coming off the books after the 2023-24 season.

    Don’t expect him to play much of a role for the 76ers. It’s possible he never puts on the uniform.

  • Robert Covington

    Robert Covington of the Philadelphia 76ers

    The irony of Robert Covington is real. The former Sam Hinkie acquisition became a microcosm of key talking points surrounding The Process during his first tenure with the Sixers from 2014-18.

    He probably has a little bit more left in the tank than fellow veteran shooter Danny Green. However, expect the bigger takeaway of Covington’s second stint with the Sixers to have more to do with Process debates than what’s happening on the floor.

  • Nicolas Batum

    Nicolas Batum, Los Angeles Clippers

    Expiring contracts carry value in the NBA. Nicolas Batum will turn 35 in six weeks. He hasn’t averaged double figures since 2017-18, but his $11.7 million annual salary comes off the books after 2023-24.

  • Kenyon Martin Jr.

    Kenyon Martin Jr.

    The 22-year-old Kenyon Martin Jr. has just begun his fourth NBA season. He averaged 12.7 points for the Houston Rockets in 2022-23. He is the only player the Sixers acquired in the trade who might have a legitimate long-term upside.

    However, the organization likely sees more value in his expiring contract.

  • 2028 Unprotected First-Round Pick

    Daryl Morey, Philadelphia 76ers

    It’s not like it’s ever a bad thing to acquire an extra first-round pick in a trade. However, consider that the player selected with this pick might be 13 or 14 years old right now.

    The Sixers might not make this selection, especially considering that Daryl Morey doesn’t have the long-term stability within the organization to focus on loading up future picks that he doesn’t plan on moving.

  • Two Second-Round Picks

    2023 NBA Draft

    It’s good to add sweeteners to any trade. Fans of the 76ers got used to acquiring second-round picks while Sam Hinkie was in charge, and they probably know that they shouldn’t expect them to materialize into much.

  • 2029 Pick Swap

    Markelle Fultz with Adam Silver at the 2017 NBA Draft

    The right to a pick swap could help the 76ers gain a better draft position in 2029. For now, all it does is remind their fan base of a similar move Hinkie made in 2015 that led to a dooming chain of events.

    The Sixers used the swap to move up to the third spot in the 2017 NBA Draft. They used the advantageous position to make the infamous deal with the Boston Celtics to acquire the top pick in the draft and select Markelle Fultz.

    This one has to turn out better. Right?

  • First-Round Pick From Unannounced NBA Team

    Daryl Morey and James Harden

    The difference between the top of the first round and the bottom of the first round is greater in the NBA Draft than it is in any other sport. Wait and see which team must send the future first-rounder to the Sixers before evaluating the asset.

  • The Real Acquisition: Salary Cap Space and Roster Flexibility

    Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers 2023-24

    Analyzing the return package for James Harden singularly doesn’t tell the whole story.

    Daryl Morey needed to move Harden, and he didn’t have much leverage to do so. Therefore, he had a tough time getting anything notable that affects the short-term status of the team.

    His goal is to set the Sixers up for an additional move that actually helps them on the floor. He now has flexibility that didn’t exist with James Harden on the roster.

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