The Sixers’ second-round exit spurred Daryl Morey into action this summer. He traded for De’Anthony Melton on draft night before acquiring three former Rockets in free agency: P.J. Tucker, Danuel House Jr., and Montrezl Harrell. All four players are expected to play significant roles next season.
That said, Morey isn’t one to sit idly while opportunities pass him by. If he sees another avenue to improvement, he will take it. Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report recently proposed another offseason target for the Sixers’ President of Basketball Ops: Alec Burks.
"“Philly could use another playmaker on the second unit, and Burks, a career wing, just held his own as an emergency point guard for the New York Knicks (3.0 assists against 1.1 turnovers). He can manage most defensive matchups on the perimeter, and he has splashed better than 38 percent of his threes each of the past three seasons.”"
Might the Sixers trade for Alec Burks?
The Sixers fanbase is quite familiar with Burks, who spent 18 games (plus the postseason) with Philadelphia in 2020. One might remember Burks as the only bench player who really showed up while the Al Horford-era Sixers imploded around him. He packed his bags for New York that summer and spent two fruitful seasons with the wayward Knicks.
Burks was traded to Detroit over the summer alongside another former Sixer, Nerlens Noel. The Pistons are certainly keen to win a few more games with Cade Cunningham entering his second NBA season, but there’s no denying the very tank-y nature of that roster. Burks is a veteran contributor who feels somewhat out of place.
Could Philadelphia thusly swoop in? It’s certainly possible. Burks has proven himself to be a competent role player in a role the Sixers covet. He’s another emergency ball-handler and a confident perimeter shooter. Burks’ skill set would complement the other guards on the roster. He can run point in a pinch, or spot-up along the perimeter and attack the rotating defense.
Burks’ size also makes him a useful and versatile defender. Even if he’s not particularly special on the defensive end, at 6-foot-6, Burks can toggle between three different positions. He has the strength to combat larger wings and the lateral quickness to chase guards around. Factor in the plethora of positive defenders around him (Embiid, Tucker, Melton, House, Thybulle, Harris), and Burks fulfills the simple requirement of being playable in the postseason.
What would a trade look like, however? Burks is due $10 million this season, with a team option for $10.2 million in 2023-24. The matter is made tricky by the Sixers’ current cap situation. After signing Tucker and House, the Sixers are hard-capped. Therefore, Philadelphia cannot exceed the tax apron in a hypothetical trade. They have to match salaries, and it’s difficult to reach the $10 million mark without including several moving parts or including players the Sixers should not consider trading.
So, unless Burks and Detroit agree to a buyout (unlikely, as some other winning team would probably be willing to trade for Burks), the Sixers are probably out of luck. There’s no doubt Burks would elevate the second unit, but Philadelphia is unlikely to trade two or three players just to acquire Burks. Those with salaries close enough to Burks to match outright (Melton, Tucker) are too valuable. It’s simply not meant to be.