Nothing beats a 2AM Wednesday “WOJBOMB”
The Sixers have now completed two massive deals in the same season. The first, obviously, was trading Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and Jerryd Bayless for Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton. With the rampant discussion and speculation that is about to occur with the new trade news, it’s often fun to look back at the reaction the last time Elton Brand shook the foundation of the team. I think it’s safe to say as of today, there is still a massive split on the opinion of acquiring Jimmy Butler.
Meet Tobias Harris
In acquiring Tobias Harris, the Sixers have 100% shifted into “win-now” mode (if they hadn’t already). Harris, the star of the deal, is having a career season in a contract year and is only 26 years old, despite this being his eighth NBA season. Harris, an unrestricted free agent this offseason, has averaged 20 points per game, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and has shot 43% from three since joining the Clippers last season. His true shooting % is up from a career average of 56% to this season’s 60%. Harris is a good combination of size and athleticism, standing 6’9″, 235lbs, and able to play SF and PF. Harris garnered a lot of All-Star consideration this season in a loaded Western Conference.
The big question that comes to most people’s minds is: how does this impact the future of the Sixers? Many are saying they have the best starting 5 in the East now with Simmons, Redick, Butler, Harris, and Embiid. However, Redick, Butler, and Harris are all expected to hit free agency this offseason. The early rumors are this trade was made with the expectation to keep this entire core together for the most part.
Marjanovic and Scott
As far as Marjanovic and Scott, they are servicable backups at least. Marjanovic is a perfect backup center for Joel, as he does not demand heavy minutes, but is very efficient in his short stints. He only averages about 11 minutes per game, but his per 36 numbers are nothing short of incredible: 23 points per game, 15 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. He’s 7’3″, 290lbs, and Sixers Twitter is going to have an amazing time with his meme potential.
Scott brings with him 38 career playoff games, mainly with Atlanta. His career numbers don’t jump off the screen, averaging only 7 points per game and 3 rebounds, but he is a career 36% three point shooter and is up to 39% this season. It doesn’t seem like there’s likely much drop off between him and Mike Muscala, and acquiring Harris lessens the need for the rotating door we’ve had at power forward between Chandler and Muscala.
Impact on the Sixers
In the short term, the concerns in this deal to me are not significant, but they do exist. Harris only has 4 career playoff games in his 7+ seasons, while Marjanovic has 7. Chemistry is another looming issue. Jimmy Butler has been with Philadelphia since November and many still point to his issues as a matter of adjusting to fit in. Will Harris be able to make the adjustment and fit in, not only for the playoffs, but enough to give him the mindset that he wants to stay here for the long haul?
There may be issues potentially if Joel has to miss any extended time. Muscala, while not impressive, was able to log backup center minutes and play in an extended role when Embiid sat. Marjanovic has rarely logged heavy minutes in his entire career. He has 2 career games with over 30 minutes played, both coming in his first season. Any game without Embiid will clearly be difficult for the Sixers, but thinking about a combined 40+ minutes of Boban and Amir is a bit disturbing.
Finally, all three of these players are expiring contracts. This has positive aspects as well considering the need for cap space if they plan to resign Butler and Harris as allegedly reported, but the assets given up for three expiring players is considerable. I’m not sure many are crying over the departure of Mike Muscala and Wilson Chandler, but I know many of us will miss Landry Shamet.
What the Sixers gave up
Shamet has averaged 8 points per game while shooting 40% from three in 20 minutes per game as a rookie for the Sixers. Over the past month however, Shamet has been exposed and has had poor lapses in play when starting in place of Redick. This is understandable from a rookie, but with the Sixers continuing to shift heavily to “win now,” moving Shamet has its merits. Shamet gives effort on defense, but ultimately can be bullied by many NBA bodies and likely would be an easy target in the playoffs. The Sixers may have sold high on Shamet, but he may also have been the top steal of the draft. This could be a sneaky good pick up for the Clippers.
The Sixers also sent a plethora of picks to LA, including their own 2020 first and the Miami unprotected 2021. They also sent two second rounders in the deal as well. The Sixers lottery protected their 2020 pick, but considering their level of success, it seems likely to convey. The Miami pick was arguably their best movable trade asset, ranked #4 overall here by PFO’s own Brian Jacobs.
Two first round picks may seem excessive for three expiring contracts, but sometimes this is the cost of doing business. If Harris walks, this one is going to sting. This leads us back to Brand’s agenda that in making this deal, he must believe he can re-sign Harris. Whether that impacts Jimmy Butler, we will have to wait and see.
The Sixers are likely to continue attempting to make moves. They still have Markelle Fultz and his 8 million dollar salary. If they truly plan on signing this “Big 4,” Fultz may be the next piece to fall. As far as potential additions, the Sixers have been linked to Terrance Ross, Taurean Prince, Garrett Temple, Corey Brewer, and Wesley Matthews. As soon as any news breaks, we’ll update you right here at PFO.