Philadelphia 76ers: Is trading Al Horford an option?

Philadelphia 76ers, Al Horford (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Philadelphia 76ers, Al Horford (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers have struggle recently and it might be time to at least considering making a major change to the roster.

The Philadelphia 76ers have been struggling as of late. The three-game skid they’re experiencing hasn’t been fun for the team or it’s fans. These types of hard times makes a team reconsider it’s roster construction.

Out of the team’s starting five, Al Horford has shown the most struggles. He looks a step slow in recent weeks and this season in general hasn’t been kind to the veteran. He’s averaging 12.4 points and 6.5 rebounds (career low), while shooting 34.1 percent from downtown. His points average is the lowest it’s been since the 2011-12 season in which he only played 11 games.

This less than stellar production makes Al Horford’s fit on the roster questionable moving forward. Is it worth trading Horford at the moment? There’s several things to consider before answering that question.

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After last postseason, it became clear that the Sixers needed to consider that long term approach when viewing the regular season. Being dominant in throughout the regular season meant nothing for the team as it wasn’t at full strength when the playoffs came around last year.

This was more true than ever for 76ers star big man for Joel Embiid. Last year, Philly overworked Embiid in the regular season and as a result, he wasn’t able to play fully healthy in the playoffs. Adding Al Horford this summer was a way to fix that problem.

Embiid has had minimal injury problems so far this year thanks to reduced minutes and rest. Horford is a big reason why the Sixers have been able to get Embiid more rest this season. Not seeing how that will work out in the postseason would be irresponsible on the part of the 76ers.

There’s no doubt that the two big man haven’t been a perfect fit on the offensive side of the floor. However, Philly doesn’t need perfect harmony on offense from those two, especially in the regular season. They need them to clog up the paint on defense, which they can do on an elite level.

Horford is also the ideal center to pair with Philly’s other young star in Ben Simmons. Horford’s passing and 3-point shooting plays to Simmons’ strengths of playing fast and attacking the paint. The Sixers can play at a much faster pace when Simmons and Horford are on the floor together without Embiid, which is obviously a good thing.

Not only was Horford brought in to be a elite reserve for Embiid and ideal pair with Simmons, but his ability to defend will be important in the 76ers postseason success. Horford and Embiid will lock down the paint on defense, which will be key against the presumptive Eastern Conference favorites the Milwaukee Bucks and their MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. With the duo of Embiid and Horford, Philly has a formula to slow down Antetokounmpo on offense.

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Not only will the defense of the talent defensive big be important against the Bucks, but essentially all the contenders in the East. The pace of play slows down in the postseason which favors the Sixers.

Teams that play fast like the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics will have to beat the 76ers with jump shots as they won’t be able to beat them in transition or in the paint. That will be hard to do as Philly’s perimeter defense is spear headed by Simmons who is making the case for becoming Defensive Player of the Year.

Another aspect to consider is what type of value could the Sixers get in return for Horford. He’s past his prime on a contract that is worth more than his value over the long haul. In a few years he won’t be worth the money he’s getting payed. Getting great, let alone good value would be tough for Philly to accomplish at this point in trading Horford.

This upcoming offseason would be a better time for the Sixers to consider trading Horford. Not only because it’s important to see what value he could possibly bring to the 76ers postseason run, but also it would help to get a better sense of what type of return he could bring back in a trade.

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Until the offseason comes, the Philadelphia 76ers shouldn’t be any rush to trade Horford. It may at times be hard to which him struggle to fit in with the rest of the starting five in the regular season, but it should be worth in the playoffs.