The Philadelphia 76ers made several moves prior to Thursday’s trade deadline. In the biggest deal, they sent Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala and four draft picks to the Los Angeles Clippers for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott. In another, they shipped former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz to the Orlando Magic for Jonathon Simmons and two draft picks. In still another, they acquired James Ennis from the Houston Rockets in exchange for draft considerations.
Are the Sixers done reshaping their roster? While the acquisition of Harris makes Philadelphia’s starting lineup even more lethal, the bench could still use some work. Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid and Harris make up as good a starting five as there is in the Eastern Conference, but losing regular rotation players in Chandler, Shamet and Muscala isn’t something that can simply be overlooked.
That’s where the buyout market comes in. Last year, the Sixers brought in veterans Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova after the trade deadline. Both played vital roles in a late-season surge that saw Philadelphia finish 52-30 to capture the No. 3 seed in the East.
There are certainly players on this year’s buyout market who would add depth to the Sixers’ roster as well. The biggest question marks appear to be on the wing and down low, and it’s still unknown how big of a role the trio of Marjanovic, Scott and Simmons will play in Philadelphia.
Here are four potential buyout candidates the Sixers should consider to improve their depth if their current teams release them.
Lin has played plenty of point guard in his career, but he’s also capable of backing up Redick at the 2-guard spot. That versatility could be attractive to the Sixers, who were getting good minutes from Shamet as a backup wing.
Although far removed from the days of “Linsanity,” Lin is still a productive NBA player. The 30-year-old is averaging 10.7 points and 3.5 assists per game for the Atlanta Hawks this season. Furthermore, he is shooting 46.7 percent from the field, 32.6 percent from 3-point range and 84.3 percent from the free-throw line.
If Lin were to play point guard in Philadelphia, he is more of a creator and 3-point threat than T.J. McConnell off the bench. The two could also play alongside one another, giving the Sixers the mid-range shooting of McConnell to go with Lin’s playmaking and long-range ability. Plus, they could share the ball-handling duties when on the floor together.
McGruder isn’t as well-known as Lin and is much more of an off-ball player. However, the 27-year-old would still give the Sixers more shooting off the bench. He’s not exactly a knockdown 3-point shooter — although neither is Lin — but he’s enough of a threat to keep defenses honest.
McGruder is currently averaging career highs in points (8.6), rebounds (3.6) and assists (2.0) per game for the Miami Heat. He’s also shooting 40.5 percent from the field, 35.5 percent from 3-point range and 75.5 percent from the free-throw line.
He’s not likely to light it up and score tons of points on a nightly basis, but at least the third-year pro would give the Sixers another player who can stretch the floor. Lin is probably the better overall option, but McGruder wouldn’t be a bad backup plan.
Muscala was capable of playing both power forward and center, and now he’s gone. Amir Johnson can play center and has a lot of experience, but he’s a bit undersized against some opponents. Jonah Bolden has a lot of potential, but is still learning to play at the NBA level.
That’s where Lopez comes in. Now in his 11th season, he knows what it takes to play against high-level opponents night in and night out. The 30-year-old is averaging 6.6 points and 3.0 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game for the Chicago Bulls this season. Those numbers don’t look impressive, but he is a big body who brings a physical presence and leadership presence in the middle.
The 30-year-old Marjanovic will also see time at center, but he only averaged 10.4 minutes per game for the Clippers. Regardless, he scored 6.7 points and pulled down 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 60.7 percent from the field and 75.8 percent from the free-throw line during his time in Los Angeles. But it would still probably be best for the Sixers to find someone else like Lopez who can give them quality minutes behind their All-Star starter.
The Charlotte Hornets shopped their fourth-year big man prior to the trade deadline, but they were unable to move him. After shooting a career-high 38.0 percent from 3-point range last season, Kaminsky has played sparingly under first-year coach James Borrego.
When he has played, the 25-year-old 7-footer has played well enough. He’s averaging career lows in points (5.5) and rebounds (2.5) per game, but that’s because he’s also playing a career-low 11.3 minutes per game. Nonetheless, he’s shooting 48.5 percent from the field and a respectable 34.9 percent from behind the arc.
The former first-round draft pick is likely ready for a change in scenery, and he could really flourish if given the chance to play for a contending team such as the Sixers. Kaminsky is a younger option than the aforementioned Lopez, and his game is probably more compatible to Embiid’s as well. He might be just the type of player Philadelphia is looking for to pair with Embiid and the newly acquired Marjanovic.