Philadelphia 76ers: The logistics of a Buddy Hield trade

In a way, the Philadelphia 76ers and Buddy Hield feel destined for each other. How does it happen?

It is widely expected that the Philadelphia 76ers will probe the trade market this offseason. Al Horford and Tobias Harris are openly available, and while I doubt Harris’ contract is going anywhere, the Sixers have a chance to ship Al Horford to a better home.

One name that has been tied to the Sixers for ages is Buddy Hield. At the beginning of a four-year, $94 million extension, Hield and the Kings are already on the verge of a breakup. If Hield forces his way out the door, the Sixers should come eagerly knocking.

The issue for Philadelphia is a lack of leverage. Horford and Harris are albatross contracts, and no team will actively seek them out. If the Sixers want to get rid of Horford — and especially if they want to turn him into a useful asset, like Hield — it will require a small fortune.

The Sixers cannot trade too many picks. With no cap space, the draft is Philadelphia’s only path to meaningful, affordable bench depth for the next few seasons. It will, however, probably require at least one first-round pick to pry Hield away from Sacramento. Maybe more. The Sixers can expect competition if Hield’s services become available.

Sacramento avidly pursued Horford last summer, and while Vlade Divac is no longer in charge, the Kings are a notoriously mistake-prone front office. If any team will take legitimate interest in Horford, it’s probably them. But even so, the Sixers will need to navigate tricky financial waters as well.

The core of this trade proposal is Horford for Hield. Horford will make $27.5 million next season, while Hield will make roughly $24.5 million. Both salaries will decrease annually. Hield only makes $18.5 million in his fourth year.

One can assume the Sixers and Kings will negotiate around the margins. If Sacramento wants Matisse Thybulle, for example, then the Kings would need include more salary on their end. This probably does not happen as a straight Horford-for-Hield swap. Other pieces will get moved around.

As for if the Sixers should acquire Hield, the short answer is yes. He’s a dynamite shooter, he’s eight years younger than Horford, and his contract is easier to swallow — even if it’s a year longer. Hield would boost the Sixers’ title hopes considerably. He would also fit nicely in a hypothetical Mike D’Antoni offense, if that is indeed Philadelphia’s pick at head coach.

It is not as simple as “yes,” though, and there are drawbacks to consider. Hield only started in 44 of  72 appearances last season, and he clashed publicly with the front office. One can understandably place the blame on Sacramento’s messy leadership structure, but news flash, the Sixers’ front office isn’t exactly one to emulate.

Hield also posted his lowest field goal and 3-point percentages since his rookie season, and while a 3-point success rate of 39.4 percent on 9.6 attempts per game is absurd, it is still cause for concern that Hield’s numbers have trended in the wrong direction. He’s 26 — years older than many of his 2016 draft contemporaries — and he does not provide a ton of value outside the scoring department.

Again, the Sixers should actively look at Hield. His ability to stretch the floor would massively benefit both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, who have experienced their greatest success when sharing the court with high-level spacers, a la J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli. Hield is one of the best volume shooters in basketball, and that alone gives him immense value in Philadelphia’s shooting-deprived rotation.

Hield also has a quick trigger. The Sixers’ offense stumbled last season in part because of how many open shots were passed up in favor of more difficult looks off the dribble. Neither Harris, Horford, nor Richardson are particularly inclined to stand behind the 3-point line and unload a high volume of shots. Hield does just that. Put Hield and Milton together in the backcourt, and suddenly Philadelphia might have some rhythm.

It’s important not to oversell or overhype Hield’s abilities. He is not J.J. Redick. Is he a better player? Perhaps. But he doesn’t do nearly as much without the basketball, and he demands far more touches outside the flow of the offense. He would not fix the Sixers’ lack of reliable halfcourt playmaking either — even if he’s capable of getting his own shot consistently.

Hield doesn’t have the prettiest contract either, and the Sixers should not zero in entirely on Hield when other more attractive options may be available. Think Jrue Holiday, Victor Oladipo, or most ideally, Chris Paul.

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With that said, Hield is probably the cheapest of the names mentioned, and he does infuse a much-needed deluge of 3s in Philadelphia’s offensive game plan.