Over the summer, the Philadelphia 76ers tried hard to trade for Kyle Korver, but the contract of guard Jerryd Bayless kept getting in the way. After the Sixers traded Bayless, along with small forwards Robert Covington and Dario Saric to the Minnesota Timberwolves for All-Star Jimmy Butler, though, the prevailing thought was the team would once again try and acquire Korver from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
According to a report from Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, the Cavs reportedly dangled a deal built around Kyle Korver and a protected draft pick for Sixers second-year guard Markelle Fultz. The former No. 1 overall pick is currently away from the Sixers to see multiple shoulder specialists in New York and many believe Philly wants to part ways with Fultz to put an end to the drama that surrounds him on a daily basis.
The Sixers can still trade Fultz, but they can’t get Kyle Korver anymore, as the sharpshooter is headed to the Utah Jazz. Philadelphia has to be kicking themselves right now because they blew a golden opportunity to acquire a player who would have addressed one of their biggest needs: Perimeter shooting.
Entering Thursday, the Sixers are shooting 35.4 percent from beyond the arc. That is 14th in the NBA. Other than shooting guard J.J. Redick, who is shooting 36.3 percent from 3-point range this season, Philadelphia really doesn’t have any reliable shooters from deep who can space the floor.
Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons are elite slashers. The two stars can get to the rim at will and finish in heavy traffic. The problem is that opposing defenses can pack the paint, thus not allowing Butler and Simmons to get to the hoop. Butler is shooting 43.3 percent from three this season. He’s a career 34.4 percent shooter from deep. Ben Simmons hasn’t attempted a 3-pointer all season and has yet to make one in his career. While Butler can hit shots from deep, Simmons is not a threat whatsoever from the perimeter and does all of his damage in the paint.
Just imagine how lethal the Sixers’ offense would have been if Kyle Korver was on this team. With Redick and Korver roaming the perimeter, there would have been a bevy of driving lanes for Butler and Simmons. Defenses wouldn’t have been able to leave Korver and Redick to help stop Butler and Simmons from getting to the paint because both players are snipers from distance. Add to the fact that Simmons is a cerebral passer and can see plays before they happen, Korver would have gotten the same looks from distance that he got when he was playing with LeBron James in Cleveland.
We haven’t even talked about the Sixers’ best player and how Kyle Korver would have helped him. Philadelphia big man Joel Embiid is a load down low. Opposing centers can’t guard him one-on-one and teams usually have to double-team him in the post. Korver has never played with a big man talent such as Embiid. The offensive actions the Sixers could have ran would have been limitless.
The Sixers failed to take advantage of Kyle Korver being on the trade market, but they can still add a shooter if they are willing to take a big risk.
Cavs guard J.R. Smith has requested a trade and won’t play for the team anymore. The veteran guard is not with the team right now and training on his own. Yes, Smith is mercurial and always doesn’t have his head on a swivel, but he can shoot the ball and create his own shot off the dribble. You can never have enough shooting in today’s NBA, and the Sixers are currently lacking in that department. Maybe being back in a winning environment would help Smith play better too.
Smith is slated to make $14.7 million this season and has $3.9 million guaranteed in 2019-20. He’s not nearly the player Korver is, but at this point, the Sixers need shooting in the worst way.