Back in early 2022, the Philadelphia 76ers were under intense pressure to fulfill three-time All-Star Ben Simmons’s long-standing trade desire before the NBA Trade Deadline. In the end, they dealt him to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a historic exchange for James Harden. Fans of the Sixers shouldn’t expect a repeat of last year’s pyrotechnics before the 2023 trade deadline on February 9. Here we will look at one last-minute trade that the Sixers must make before the 2023 NBA trade deadline.
Keep in mind, however, that the Sixers have a ton of restrictions facing them. These include a lack of draft picks and young talent to trade, as well as a hard cap and luxury tax limitations. As such, it appears that a modest improvement is the most optimistic outcome for Philly at the deadline.
Remember also that the NBA’s trade salary matching rules limit teams over the tax line to receiving only 125 percent of the salary they trade plus $100,000. That makes it difficult for the 76ers to acquire players such as Bojan Bogdanovic from the Detroit Pistons or Eric Gordon from the Houston Rockets. Right now, both Bogdanovic and Gordon are earning $19.6 million. As a result, the 76ers are likely limited to players earning salaries of $8-12 million or less.
That said, let us look at one last-minute trade that the Sixers must make before the deadline.
Andre Drummond, Coby White to the Sixers for Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, future protected first-round pick.
According to reports, the Sixers have expressed interest in a reunion with former player Andre Drummond. He’s currently playing for the Chicago Bulls. The asking price will determine if the 76ers can make a move for Drummond. Some sources suggest that the Bulls may demand more than expected for him, or even keep him on their roster.
A potential first-round pick requirement from the Bulls could put the 76ers out of the running for Drummond. However, if the Bulls are open to accepting a lower offer, the 76ers could put together multiple options to grab their attention.
Last season, Drummond played 49 games with the 76ers before being included in the trade for Harden. During his time in Philadelphia, Drummond averaged 6.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 0.9 blocks in just 18.4 minutes per game. Despite his limitations as a pick-and-roll defender, he is considered one of the best backups the 76ers have had to support superstar Joel Embiid.
Andre Drummond went OFF.
21 points | 9-9 FG | 15 rebounds | 3 steals pic.twitter.com/ReKAK9Acj3
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) February 7, 2023
Again, take note that the Sixers currently find themselves $1.2 million over the luxury tax line. Meanwhile, the Bulls sit $1.7 million under it. The Bulls also have a 26-28 record and are unlikely to go above the tax line. This makes it a challenging financial feat for the Sixers to acquire Drummond.
This is where adding Matisse Thybulle comes in. He is currently earning $4.4 million. Trading him for Andre Drummond, who earns $3.2 million, would place the 76ers below the luxury tax line. Still, that may be too close for comfort. Of course, it would also keep the Bulls under the tax. Now, including Furkan Korkmaz, who earns $5.0 million, would provide the 76ers with more room under the tax. The flip side is it would also push the Bulls over the tax threshold. And this is why someone like Coby White needs to be part of the trade. Chicago has been looking to trade White as well. It makes sense to include him here.
Now back to Thybulle. This season, his stock has taken a significant hit. He is playing a career-low 12.1 minutes per game affecting his production. Thybulle is currently averaging under 3 points and just 0.9 steals per game. He is also still struggling with his shooting, converting just under 33.0 percent of his three-pointers.
Of course, Thybulle has consistently been a strong defender. In fact, he ranked sixth among shooting guards in ESPN’s defensive real plus-minus (plus-3.64) last season. Still, this has not been enough to offset his lack of shooting ability. That certainly becomes more apparent in the playoffs. Remember that he has had a negative net rating during each of his three postseasons with the 76ers.
Given his defensive skills, however, Thybulle would be a valuable asset to a contending team with more shooting. With his current numbers, acquiring him should not come at an astronomical cost. For the Sixers, trading the 25-year-old as part of a deal to bring in some frontcourt and wing depth to support James Harden and Joel Embiid would be beneficial.
Remember also that Korkmaz has asked for a trade. As the Sixers’ No. 26 overall choice in 2016, Korkmaz has developed into a reliable member of the club over the previous three years. In 67 games last season, he averaged 7.6 points per game, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. His current averages of 3.8 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 0.7 assists in 2022–23, though, are his lowest since his rookie season. Still, moving to a new club may be what he needs to rediscover his fine form.