Philadelphia 76ers: The least popular offseason move for the Sixers

Furkan Korkmaz, Al Horford, Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Furkan Korkmaz, Al Horford, Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers are expected to engage in some major trades in the next few weeks. With big star names out there, Daryl Morey could shake things up quite a bit. However, what if the Sixers didn’t make any trades before the season starts? Would the results be that bad?

It’s early December, and Philadelphia 76ers training camp has just started. Inside the Camden practice facility, an entire new coaching staff stands before the team. New systems are ready to be taught, and a new era of basketball is about to begin. The only new faces on the sideline is the Sixers’ first round draft pick and a free agent shooter signed a week prior. The bulk of the players have returned from last year. Not one major trade was made leading up to the 2021 season debut. Why didn’t the Sixers make a big splash in the trade market? The reason why is because the best move for Sixers management is to make no major trades at all.

As NBA teams are positioning themselves to make trades within the next two weeks, the Sixers have to make an important decision. Should they part ways with any of their key players from last year? Because of all the rumors and reports from NBA insiders, many attractive names have been connected to the 76ers. Jrue Holiday, Chris Paul, Buddy Hield, and James Harden are a few. The majority of Sixers fans are salivating at the opportunity to unload current players in exchange for the possibility of something better.

On the surface, making a major trade is a sexy move. Hearing the Sixers were mentioned in a Woj bomb will excite the fanbase. Being still while movement is happening around the league is quite unsettling for 76ers fans. However, the grass isn’t always greener. As the collective groan from Sixerland carries far and wide while you continue reading, answer this question first. What are the advantages to not making any big trades before the season starts?

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One reason the Sixers should stay put is to give their young stars a chance to peak. When it comes to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, there are plenty of hot takes regarding the team offering either player in a trade for another star. When it comes to younger players, some fans are eager to include Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle in a multiplayer trade just to unload the contracts of Tobias Harris or Al Horford. The problem with prematurely trading any of the four players mentioned is their talent is still developing.

It’s not like there’s a Markelle Fultz or Jimmy Butler situation in the locker room currently. Those players were traded because of the toxic environment their presence had on the team. Getting rid of the two top stars on this team, and other young pieces, could prove to be a huge mistake.

By keeping the roster as similar as possible to last year, the 76ers could further establish continuity. Although it would require learning new schemes under a new coaching staff, the good thing is that the players had a full year to get accustomed to one another. They learned strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies as a collective group. This year would be Embiid and Simmons’ fourth year together. Another year of growth between the two of them could pay dividends (I know I suggested trading Simmons, but I am eager to see what Doc Rivers can do).

Other players who have been in Philly for more than a season could also keep developing chemistry without making any major shifts on the roster. Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, and Furkan Korkmaz all made progress last year statistically. Keeping them would maintain a cohesion that Doc Rivers could capitalize from in the short term.

I know some would argue that the team’s early playoff exit against the Boston Celtics warrants a major roster change. One must remember two things when claiming that position. First, you cannot ignore that Ben Simmons was out the entire series. His production on defense and offense was sorely missed. Had he played, the series would have been much more competitive. Secondly, the current roster was being orchestrated by Brett Brown in a system that was unable to maximize the team’s collective talent. Under Doc Rivers, they could flourish.

You might remember in 2008 that he established a successful system in Boston while juggling the egos of three future Hall of Fame players in Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. With the players he has now, he may be able to gather all the lumps of clay, reshape them, and create something special. Something that Brett Brown tried so hard to do but for whatever reason could not get done.

In a recent episode of The Sixer Sense Podcast, Christopher Kline and Lucas Johnson discussed free agent moves that would reduce the need to make a huge trade. There are some attractive free agents available who the Sixers could sign once Nov. 22 arrives.

Opposed to making big trades, the Sixers could simply let players walk. Alec Burks, Kyle O’Quinn, and Raul Neto are free to sign with other teams. Opening up these roster spots will allow Daryl Morey and Elton Brand to reach out to other players who would complement the core talent on the Sixers. Davis Bertans, Jae Crowder, and D.J. Augustin are just a few players who could step in and contribute for the Sixers.

As far as minor trades to unload salary, Philadelphia could offer the contracts of Mike Scott and Zhaire Smith for future draft picks. Glenn Robinson’s contract is on a player option. Free agency could be the way to solidify the roster without a seismic shift in the core player rotation.

It’s April 2021, and the NBA playoffs are about to start. While Daryl Morey focused on draft pieces and developing young talent, he allowed Doc Rivers to establish his brand of basketball. Continuity prevailed and cohesion set. Benefits? Philadelphia is a top three seed in the East. Joel Embiid had an MVP caliber season, Ben Simmons led the league in assists, and Tobias Harris had the most productive year as a professional. Even Al Horford is in the conversation for Sixth Man of the Year.

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For the Sixers’ success, no major trades were needed. Just a new coach, fresh system, and plenty of patience. Will they advance to the NBA Finals? We will soon find out.