In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the Philadelphia 76ers made their second blockbuster trade of the season in hopes of making a run at an NBA championship.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sixers traded Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, rookie Landry Shamet, and a multitude of draft picks (two first-round picks and two second-round picks) to the Los Angeles Clippers for forward Tobias Harris, center Boban Marjanovic, and forward Mike Scott.
The NBA insider also added that the Sixers plan to be aggressive in re-signing Harris to a contract extension as he will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
On paper, this trade in the short-term gives Philadelphia one of the best starting lineups in the Eastern Conference. But when it comes to their bench, they are now devoid of talent.
Marjanovic and Scott should be able to provide something off the bench for the Sixers, in addition to what they already have with T.J. McConnell, Jonah Bolden, Amir Johnson, Furkan Korkmaz, and two-way players Shake Milton and Haywood Highsmith.
However, Philly can continue to improve their bench for the stretch run by making one or two moves before Thursday’s deadline or grabbing players off of the buyout market.
The Sixers, along with a host of other teams, are reportedly interested in signing New York Knicks veteran guard Wesley Matthews if he is bought out. Along with Matthews, Phoenix Suns guard Jamal Crawford could also be an option for the Sixers if he is bought out, according to Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson.
In the long-term, as previously mentioned, the Sixers will have their hands full in locking up both Harris and Butler, while also hoping that second-year point guard Markelle Fultz and rookie Zhaire Smith pan out to be solid NBA players.
Speaking of Harris, the Sixers are getting a player who many thought should have been an All-Star this season.
The 26-year-old forward is having a career year across the board, averaging 20.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 34.6 minutes per game. Not to mention, he is also shooting 49.6-percent from the field and 43.4-percent from three-point range on 4.7 attempts per game.
In addition to his offensive skills, Harris is a pretty solid defender, which is what the Sixers desperately needed in their starting lineup.
While Embiid, Simmons, and Butler are good defenders and can defend multiple positions on the court, Chandler playing the small ball 4 was problematic, depending on the matchup.
This season, Harris has a defensive rating (DRtg) of 111. His career DRtg is 108. He also has a defensive rebounding percentage of 21.3, which is better than both Chandler (13.6-percent) and Muscala (14.9-percent).
Nevertheless, it does come as a surprise to see the Clippers to move from Harris, especially since he was one of their best players this season.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported that many teams inquired about trading for the former first-round pick. The Clippers, at the time, showed no inclination to move Harris, in hopes of re-signing.
Obviously, we saw that the report was all smoke and mirrors as Los Angeles got a deal they could not refuse for their long-term goals. However, when it comes to the Sixers, they have now acquired their second crown jewel in as many months, in hopes of making a run at the Eastern Conference Finals.