Sixers: Could Derrick White be Plan B at trade deadline?

The Sixers are expected to be busy ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, with copious amounts of energy being spent on canvassing the ever-shifting Ben Simmons trade market. Whether Simmons is ultimately traded or not, however, Daryl Morey will need to be working the phone lines to try and better the roster around Joel Embiid.

Philadelphia’s trade dealings are made trickier by the unfortunate cap situation. There’s a lot of money tied up in Embiid, Simmons, and Tobias Harris, which can make it difficult to acquire good players on medium-level salaries. That said, names like Danny Green ($10 million), Furkan Korkmaz ($4.6 million), Georges Niang ($3.3 million), and Shake Milton ($1.8 million) are bound to be mentioned in the rumor/speculation mill.

That being said, there are players Philadelphia can pursue outside the context of a Simmons trade. One such player is Derrick White, who is currently starts next to Dejounte Murray in the San Antonio Spurs’ backcourt. Given the Spurs’ abysmal 20-34 record, it’s not hard to imagine imminent change. Especially with all the chatter about Gregg Popovich’s potential retirement. Philadelphia should be

Should the Sixers consider trading for Spurs two-guard Derrick White? 

76ers Get
Derrick White
Keita Bates-Diop
Spurs Get
Danny Green
Jaden Springer
Shake Milton
2 second-round picks

The Spurs are entering the beginning stages of a proper rebuild for the first time in two decades. That brings with it certain challenges, such as deciding which players are key long-term, and which players should be traded in favor of younger talent and/or draft picks.

For San Antonio, no player is a better example of that predicament than Derrick White. At 27 years old, White is in the prime of his career and hasn’t quite taken the leap many expected following DeMar DeRozan’s departure. Dejounte Murray has taken that leap instead, leaving some to question White’s future in the organization.

The Sixers should be hitting the phones to investigate White’s availability. He is not without his flaws, but White is a talented two-way guard who could benefit from a change of scenery. The Sixers need another real ball-handler, and White would fit into several different lineup configurations.

Philadelphia would be giving up a starting wing for another guard, which isn’t exactly ideal on paper. But, White is a better defender than Green at this stage of their respective careers, and at 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, White can easily handle many of the matchups that currently belong to Green. The Sixers could run three guards in the starting five (Maxey-Curry-White-Harris-Embiid), or use White as a super-sixth man while keeping Matisse Thybulle with the starting unit.

White would close a lot of games regardless, and he would immediately boost the Sixers on both sides of the floor. For the season, White is averaging 14.4 points and 5.6 assists on .425/.312/.872 shooting splits. His lack of efficiency, especially from deep, is a concern, but White shoots liberally from 3 and would not clog the paint for Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, the Sixers give up a valuable young prospect in Jaden Springer and a rotation-level guard in Shake Milton, but also receive Keita Bates-Diop. Philadelphia’s biggest weakness right now is rebounding and athleticism on the wing. At 6-foot-8, Bates-Diop can play all over the floor defensively, giving the Sixers some much-needed size and switchability (especially in Green’s absence).

It might take a first-round pick to pique San Antonio’s interest, but Springer is dominating the G-League right now and shouldn’t have fallen to No. 28 on draft night. That being said, two young guards in Springer and Milton, plus an expiring contract in Green to free up the cap sheet, could be enough to tempt San Antonio.