It’s no secret that the Sixers need to make significant changes this offseason.
After years of relying on Ben Simmons as a second star next to Joel Embiid and letting go of a legitimate superstar in Jimmy Butler, the Philadelphia 76ers made a trade for James Harden last season in the hopes of making a run in the postseason and finally making it past the second round for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
Though the team ultimately fell short, this reiterated that the Sixers are fully invested in finding the proper pieces to match their star in his prime.
One of those potential pieces is the Detroit Pistons’ newly acquired point guard Kemba Walker. Walker played 37 games for the New York Knicks last season while battling a knee injury. After being traded from the Knicks during Thursday’s draft, Walker is expected to hit free agency after the Pistons buy out his contract, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Is Walker a viable free agent target for the Sixers?
On the surface, this seems like it would be a great move for the Sixers. Walker is a good facilitator who can get a bucket when needed. It’s tempting to pair him with Tyreese Maxey, as Walker would be a good mentor for the rising star while still providing good minutes either starting or off the bench. Though he struggled with injuries last season, he is still capable of being an asset on a good team.
With that being said, should the Sixers make a play for Walker? Simply put, no.
Walker doesn’t fit the needs of the Sixers. The draft day move for De’Anthony Melton signals that Daryl Morey and the front office are focused on bringing in 3-and-D players that can space the floor. While Walker is a quality scorer and can shoot the three, he is not the defensive stalwart the Sixers need.
The Sixers should be focusing on building depth on the wing and at the center position rather than simply accumulating star power. Though Walker could be a good mentor for the younger point guards, he also takes valuable time from Tyrese Maxey, a player who improved as he gained more time last season, and Milton, who, though inconsistent, provides valuable minutes and has better longevity than Walker.
A move for Walker would stall any effort to grow Maxey into a third star behind Embiid and, if he is re-signed, Harden. The Sixers should focus on building up their young talent rather than bringing in veterans that are past their prime. For example, the move for DeAndre Jordan ultimately took away minutes from Paul Reed and Charles Bassey and cost them valuable experience before the playoffs.
While Walker would be a good piece for a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Oklahoma City Thunder, somewhere that he could be a veteran voice in the locker room and help the younger players, he does not fit what the Sixers are building. That money would be better spent on a solid backup center or some perimeter shooters.
The Sixers need to make some moves if they want to contend for the championship next year. Pursuing Walker is just not one of them.