The Sixers were always going to need a third guy around Simmons and Embiid. Not necessarily in the sense of a “Big 3,” but just 3 high level players who work well enough together on the court, yet are capable of producing when they aren’t all together. Markelle Fultz’s destiny with the Sixers was to either develop into that third guy, or to develop into a valuable trade piece in obtaining that third guy. We managed to secure our “guy” in Jimmy Butler in the most Process way imaginable, and we did so without involving Fultz in the deal. At the time that we drafted him, that would have sounded like a perfect outcome. We got our 3 guys, all without giving up the PG that they traded in order to draft first overall, although few could have imagined the reason Fultz ended up being left out of the deal, in that he’s simply not trade-able. However, with the state of his play being as it is, and the extreme lack of professionalism coming from Markelle’s people, it’s about time the Sixers move on. They no longer consider him a part of their long-term plans and have been shopping him on a trade market, which makes sense in all honesty. This core has a window, and it’s completely fair that the team doesn’t want to sit around with their thumb up their ass, wasting Jimmy Butler’s precious healthy prime years, waiting for this kid to get it together and attack his issues head on. With all of that said, here are some potential trades for pieces that fill out the roster in a way that gets them off Fultz and into the future of contending for titles.
For Kyle Korver: The case for Kyle Korver can be made in that he’s a veteran, he’s an all-time great shooter who can play off the ball. He has a favorable contract moving forward over Fultz, yet they’re close enough in salary that this trade could likely be made straight-up, if Cleveland is in. The glaring flaw in this deal is that Korver is a complete minus defensively. The one corollary I’d add is that the Sixers have enough players who are good 1-on-1 defenders that it could be feasible to play him and not sacrifice too much in that regard. It would certainly be a better trade for the regular season than the playoffs, as Korver’s defensive limitations are truly exposed in the post-season more than ever, and that brings questions to how valuable this trade really is in the Sixers’ championship aspirations.
For Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: The nice part of the KCP trade is that he is a much more fluid defender than some of the other available trades. He’s also a much less consistent shooter, which might defeat the whole purpose of bringing him on as the Sixers simply need a solid 3-ball shooter who isn’t a statue on defense (is that too much to ask?). KCP is on a pretty favorable deal at 1 year, $12 million as he becomes trade available on Dec. 15th of this year. He would have to be made a trade for later on, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world as he’s easily one of the more flexible options out there, and he can be resigned next year for maybe a more team-friendly deal then that’s great; if he doesn’t, there’s no hard commitment from a cap-space perspective.
For Trevor Ariza: The idea behind the Ariza trade is that he’s the perfect 3-and-D guy. He was an integral part of the Rockets’ system both offensively and defensively last year, and is the least concerning come playoff time. The downside of this trade is he is on a 1 year, $15 million contract in which he first becomes available in January, much later than the team likely wants to wait. He could also become a waiver signing later on, but if the team wants to secure him fast they could give up more salary balance like Bolden or Jackson, and possibly a scrap heap draft pick? Who knows. The timeline for Ariza makes the least sense since it’s very possible he could be signed without a trade, and since his trade restriction ends so much later than is ideal. He’s the best fit by far, though, as he’s a solid 35% 3 -pt shooter and 42% field goal shooter, on top of his strength as a system defender.
Unfortunately, as is usually the case for the Sixers, nothing is clear or ideal for trading Fultz. I, more than most possibly, am completely ready to put this drama and nonsense behind us even if it takes paying a small price to get off of him. The team just doesn’t need to hang around waiting for more developments in a story that’s gone 2 years with no significant movement, and continues to cause headaches for everyone involved.