Written by Jack Byrne:
Now that this year’s NBA trade deadline has come and gone and the dust appears to have settled from a firestorm of playoff contenders desperate to add more pieces in the latter half of this season. The 76ers are a prime example, as General Manager Elton Brand made a total of four trades over the course of only 12 hours.
The first of these four moves was a blockbuster trade which caught us all sleeping. The Sixers acquired power forward Tobias Harris, center Boban Marjanovic, and power forward Mike Scott from the Los Angeles Clippers, in exchange for shooting guard Landry Shamet, power forward Wilson Chandler, and power forward Mike Muscala, a protected 2020 first round pick, an unprotected 2021 first round Miami Heat pick (acquired in the Zhaire Smith/Mikal Bridges draft night deal), and two second round picks. Brand said in his press conference (which was live streamed on Periscope) Friday morning that the first deal went down around 2:30 AM, and when asked what he has learned so far being a General Manager, Brand told the media “It’s a lot of stress, I’d tell parents ‘Don’t let your kids become GMs.’”
Well Elton, waking up to big news like that is pretty stressful too! The clear takeaway from this trade is of course all-star snub Tobias Harris, who has had a career year with the Clippers, averaging 20.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 55 games this season. The dynamic stretch four can space the floor while keeping defenders guessing with a dagger of a three-point shot. Improved three-point shooting was a clear need for the Sixers starting five, relying primarily on JJ Redick. What the Sixers gained in shooting from their starters, they appear to have lost in shooting off the bench. The biggest loss in this deal rookie Landry Shamet. Shamet was drafted 26th overall in the first round of the 2018 draft out of Wichita State. The former Shocker had been shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from the three-point line this season.
Let’s not forget about the sneaky addition of Boban. The 7’3” Serbian center is exactly what the Sixers have been waiting for as an extremely solid backup to Joel Embiid, both of whom should get along well given that Boban is also an internet sensation of sorts.
The 76ers lost plenty of their bench players in the Clippers trade, as well as draft picks, so all three of the other trades Brand made before the deadline were in effort to fill the roster back up and bring back more future assets. Later on Thursday morning, after a presumably short night of sleep, Elton Brand’s second move was to acquire shooting guard Malachi Richardson from the Toronto Raptors, as well as a 2022 second round pick, and the draft rights to Emir Preldzic for cash considerations.
Now with the exception of the second round pick, almost all of that means nothing due to Elton’s third move which was to trade for Houston Rockets small forward James Ennis in exchange for the rights to swap second round draft picks in 2021. This move also meant waiving Malachi Richardson to make room on the roster (according to Philly.com writer Keith Pompey). Rest in Peace to Malachi’s storied 76er career, a whole zero games played, but that’s just how the NBA is sometimes.
The fourth and final trade of the day marked the end of the Markelle Fultz era of confusion and disappointment. With only 33 games played in his two years since being drafted first overall in the 2017 draft, Fultz is appearing to be one of the biggest busts in NBA history. Brand sent Fultz packing to the land of Mickey Mouse,to hopefully one day get on the court for the Orlando Magic. The Sixers return in this trade was honestly not that bad for the ever-declining value of Markelle Fultz. The Sixers acquired shooting guard Jonathon Simmons, while also bringing back more assets with a protected 2020 first round pick (via OKC) and a 2019 second rounder. Brand called Simmons a “rugged defender” and should be a solid jump shooter off the bench, shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 31.2 percent from the three in his career per Basketball Reference.
The 76ers team slogan for the past two seasons has been “Welcome to the Moment”, and Elton Brand has surely seized the moment with these deals. The Sixers are looking to win now, and could no longer wait for Fultz to recover from his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The additions of Marjanovic, Scott, Simmons and Ennis are crucial to the Sixers depth. Adding another all-star caliber starter in Tobias Harris was huge for this team, especially if they want to compete in the Eastern Conference, or better yet, compete with the Warriors. Brand said “A lot of teams got better, [The NBA Finals] is our goal. Our window is now, the opportunity to win is now.”
With 28 games remaining on their schedule, the Sixers are aiming to finish much higher than their current spot at fifth in the East. Riding a 34 and 20 record, and a completely reshaped roster, the home stretch of the 2018-19 season is set to be an exciting one. As Sixers commentator Marc Zumoff would say, “Hang on Alaa, we’re coming in for a landing!”