The Philadelphia 76ers are set to face a very interesting offseason. They suffered a very disappointing first-round exit in this year’s playoffs, courtesy of their arch-rivals in the Boston Celtics. To make matters worse, the C’s made easy work of the Sixers, sweeping them almost effortlessly in the opening round. Enter: Chris Paul, but more on that in a second.
The first domino has already fallen, with Philadelphia parting ways with long-time coach Brett Brown. A few more major shake-ups is expected this offseason, and it’s almost a certainty that the front office will look to bring in some new talent to rejuvenate a team that appears to have stagnated.
Chris Paul had a tremendous season for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and rumor has it that he might be available on the market. If this is true, then the Sixers should get in line. There have already been earlier reports that Philly’s front office have already done their due diligence on Paul, and this comes as no surprise at all.
So do the Sixers have the necessary assets to make this pipe dream a reality? Below we’ve outlined three potential trade packages that might just pique the interest of the Thunder.
1. Al Horford
Before anything else, we just need to lay out the premise. Most, if not all of our trade packages here are going to benefit the Sixers. In all honesty, the Thunder will likely be able to find a better trade partner for Paul in terms of what other teams may offer in exchange for the All-Star point guard, but for the purposes of our discussion today, let’s just assume that Philly has the inside track.
For the Sixers, the most beneficial deal for them would be to offload Al Horford and the $81 million he’s owed over the next three years. They will need to take back Paul’s deal, which in itself will take up a significant portion of their cap space ($85.5 million for the next two seasons), but at this point, it appears that having Paul in Philly would be more beneficial than keeping Horford.
The Sixers will likely need to throw in the likes of Matisse Thybulle and Zhaire Smith to make the deal work, as well as a couple of future draft picks.
2. Tobias Harris
If not Horford, then the second-best option for Philly would be to trade away Tobias Harris’ massive deal, which at this point looks a bit worse than it did when they put pen to paper last year. Harris is set to earn a staggering $149 million over the next four years, and that in itself is a daunting deal for the Thunder to take on. The 6-foot-8 forward will be turning 29 next season, so he doesn’t exactly fit the mold of OKC’s youth-centered rebuild.
Much like the Horford package, Philly will need to part ways with a couple of their more promising prospects in Smith and Thybulle. A future first-rounder (or two) will almost certainly also be demanded by the Thunder.
For the Sixers, a core of Chris Paul, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid will instantly propel this side to contender status in 2020-21.
3. Ben Simmons
Now in the interest of fairness, let’s do one that will be more beneficial for the Thunder.
Sixers general manager Elton Brand has already come out to say that he does not intend to trade either Simmons or Embiid, but with how things are going in Philly, you just never know.
Being that Paul and Simmons are both point guards, the more logical move — on paper at least — would be to pair Paul with one of the best big men in the league in Joel Embiid. Paul remains to be one of the top playmakers in the NBA today, and it’s almost scary to imagine what type of halfcourt sets a Paul-Embiid-centered lineup could produce.
On the other hand, acquiring Simmons would be a tremendous win for the Thunder. He is exactly the type of player they would want to build around, and at just 24, he could serve as OKC’s cornerstone superstar for years to come. The Thunder can use the myriad of draft picks they have in their possession to add pieces that will compliment Simmons, thereby fast-forwarding their rebuild process by a few years.
Talking about future draft picks, OKC will likely need to include a couple of them as part of the Chris Paul package. Key players such as Dennis Schroder and/or Steven Adams (both on expiring deals) might also need to be thrown into the mix for the Sixers to even consider parting ways with a generational talent like Simmons.
This may seem improbable, but as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. The Process hasn’t exactly fulfilled its prophecy thus far, so perhaps the time has come for Philly to start cutting its losses.