The Philadelphia 76ers entered 2022-23 full of expectations. However, after a month of basketball, things are far from ideal. The team is just 8-8 and would be in the Play-In Tournament if the regular season ended today.
To make things worse, star Joel Embiid has already missed multiple games due to an injury and James Harden should be out for at least a month with a strained foot. One of the few bright spots in Philadelphia, Tyrese Maxey could also miss up to four weeks due to a foot injury.
The 76ers might need some extra help if they want to turn their season around. With Embiid, Harden and Tobias Harris on the payroll, it is a bit difficult to make big trades and bring in elite players. However, the front office could scout the market for some veterans who can contribute right away.
Here is the Sixers’ most realistic trade target after the first month of the 2022-23 season.
Since the Houston Rockets traded away Harden during the 2020-21 season, the franchise entered a rebuilding phase. Almost all of the key players from the Rockets’ deep playoff runs were traded away or let go in order to develop their youngsters.
Still, one name remains from those close-to-glory years. Eric Gordon has been in Houston since the 2016-17 season, during which he earned Sixth Man of the Year honors. He eventually became a starter alongside Harden, bringing some efficient shooting to the team.
Now, at the age of 33, Gordon does not seem to fit the Rockets’ new identity. The franchise is full of young guards battling for minutes, while the veteran is playing 30.6 minutes a night. He is averaging 12.9 points, 2.9 assists and 2.3 rebounds with shooting splits of 44-35-88.
Houston is only 3-14, once again poised to choose toward the top of the lottery in the NBA draft. As Gordon approaches the final years of his career, perhaps the best option is to give him a chance to win a title with a contender, then allow other players such as first-round picks Josh Christopher and TyTy Washington to develop on the court.
Gordon to the Sixers is a rumor that has been out there for a long time. His time with Harden and P.J. Tucker in Houston could play a role in this potential trade. The veteran already has chemistry with some of the main players of the Philadelphia roster, so it would not be a surprise if he makes an impact right away. Additionally, the recent injuries in the backcourt might require some reinforcements.
Gordon is making about $19.5 million this season, meaning a trade to Philadelphia would require multiple players for salary-matching. Mostly out of the rotation, Matisse Thybulle could be the main asset from Philadelphia. Furkan Korkmaz is another player who could be in the deal.
Maybe the best part of Gordon’s contract is his 2023-24 salary. Although it is worth $20.9 million, it is not guaranteed. That means trading for Gordon is essentially a one-year rental, plus a possibility of re-signing him to a more team-friendly deal next offseason. This makes him a relatively low-risk, high-reward type of trade target.
All things considered, a Sixers trade for Gordon is very possible. He would probably be comfortable playing with Harden and Tucker again as the trio had the best years of their careers together. If Philadelphia wants better offense as well as a good environment, Gordon could be the solution Doc Rivers is looking for.