Trades That Make (Sixer) Sense: Al Jefferson


In many ways, the Jazz are the Sixers’ Western Conference doppelganger. They both have young talent and a lot of depth. The big difference is that the Sixers’ young talent is concentrated in the backcourt, while the Jazz have a glut of young talent in the frontcourt. The Sixers have Jrue Holliday, Evan Turner, and Lou Williams, while the Jazz have Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Enes Kanter, and Derrick Favors. Since the Jazz want to clear up their frontcourt logjam for Kanter and Favors (top 3 picks in back-to-back drafts), I think they’d be receptive to dealing either Jefferson or Millsap for the right price. Enter the Sixers. The Sixers lack a star center, and, aside from a blockbuster trade for Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum (which would require a dramatic roster overhaul), Jefferson would be their best bet to acquire one (or at least something close to one). He’s averaging 18.9 PPG and 9.3 RPG. While he’s not been the same player since he blew out his knee a few years ago, he’s still a very good center, and would give the Sixers the low-post presence they sorely lack. He’s under contract at $14M for this season and $15M for next season.

With the Jazz set at C and PF for the long term, they would be looking for wing/backcourt help in a trade with the Sixers. Andre Iguodala would be off limits in a Jefferson trade, so the Sixers would probably have to include their best trade chip: Evan Turner. Yes, I know that I wrote that we should give him more time last week. I also said in that article that we’d never know what Turner can truly do until he’s no longer playing with Iggy. This trade to Utah would give him that opportunity. As for the Jazz, they’d be getting a wing player with a lot of potential in Turner.

Unfortunately, the Jazz wouldn’t do a trade of Jefferson for Turner straight-up. Other pieces would have to get included. Immediately I thought of Lou Williams. He’s a good scorer, but he’s a very flawed offensive player. He needs the ball in his hands to make an impact, and quite frankly he takes too many shots. He’s basically Monta Ellis with limited minutes on a good team. So I put him into the trade, along with Spencer Hawes. He would give the Jazz a veteran post presence for the rest of this season in case Kanter/Favors flop in more minutes, and he’s not tied to them after the year. In this scenario, this is enough to entice the Jazz into giving up the other player from their team I coveted: Alec Burks. A rookie SG out of Colorado, Burks has struggled so far, averaging just 6.1 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 0.7 RPG. However, he’s long (6 foot 6), athletic, and good at driving to the hoop. He’s also a good offensive rebounder. His main weakness is outside shooting, which means he’d fit in great in Philadelphia. Ideally, I see Burks as a poor man’s Evan Turner right now. He can fill the same role of length at guard and defense off the bench that Turner currently fills for us. He also has potential to blossom into a good starting SG, just like Turner does, although his ceiling is a little bit lower. Finally, the Jazz would have to include Earl Watson, a backup PG, to make the trade work. So here’s the final deal:

Philadelphia acquires: Al Jefferson (C), Alec Burks (SG), Earl Watson (PG)
Utah acquires: Evan Turner (SG), Lou Williams (PG), Spencer Hawes (C)

The Sixers would roll out a starting lineup of Jrue Holliday-Jodie Meeks-Andre Iguodala-Elton Brand-Al Jefferson with Earl Watson-Alec Burks-Thad Young-Lavoy Allen-Nikola Vucevic off the bench. While this weakens the bench, I think Thad and Burks could carry the bench’s scoring. Besides, the bench wouldn’t need to be as good because the starting lineup would be better. This also puts them in a good position long-term: with a good post player locked up, they could amnesty Elton Brand in the offseason to pursue a marquee free agent.

As for Utah, they would start Devin Harris-Evan Turner-Josh Howard-Paul Millsap-Enes Kanter with Lou Williams-Gordon Hayward-Jeremy Evans-Derrick Favors-Spencer Hawes off the bench. With Utah possessing 2 first round picks this year (their own and one from the Deron Williams trade), they would be in good position to add an elite SF in the draft (Marcus Kidd-Gilchrist? Harrison Barnes?) and another talented player to throw into the mix. Basically, this trade is two deep teams swapping young talent from their positions of strength. For me, this trade boils down to one thing: acquiring a star center. The Sixers’ haven’t been able to do it, and it’s not easy to do. When the opportunity to acquire one presents itself, you jump at it and give up whatever it takes. While it would be tough to give up on Turner so soon, it would ultimately be for the better. They would be better positioned to play against the elite teams in the East, like the Heat, that have a low-post presence. This would also allow them to take a look at some of the shooting guards in this year’s free agent class (Ray Allen) that would be an excellent complement to Iggy on the wing.

Would you do this trade? Sound off in the comments with an opinion or another trade idea.