Daryl Morey has never been one to rest on his laurels. Philadelphia is 8-7, winners of four out of its last five and home to a leading MVP candidate in Joel Embiid. But the Sixers still have much room for improvement — especially with lingering injury concerns tied to James Harden and now Tyrese Maxey.
It’s not surprise that Philadelphia has already come up in the trade rumor mill. We know that Tobias Harris has been a fixture of conversations around the league, but he’s not the only Sixer being discussed. Matisse Thybulle is also on the trade block, and if reports are to be believed, other teams are already expressing interest in the 25-year-old defensive specialist.
Sixers’ Matisse Thybulle is a strong candidate to be traded before the deadline
According to Kyle Nuebeck of PhillyVoice, there has been “some interest” in Thybulle in preliminary trade discussions around the league. He further notes that he expects Thybulle to be a “rumor mill fixture” up until the Feb. 9 trade deadline.
This is the least surprising news of the NBA season. Thybulle was on the trade block all summer it felt like, and his offensive struggles to open the 2022-23 season have only cemented his outsider status in the rotation. While Doc Rivers has gone to Thybulle more in recent weeks, his inability to space the floor makes Thybulle expendable. The Sixers simply have better, more well-rounded options in the second unit.
There’s something to be said for making two All-Defensive teams before turning 25, and Thybulle did so while playing limited minutes. But, he’s not playing limited minutes on a whim: Thybulle remains one of the worst actively deployed offensive players in the NBA. He’s more palatable in units centered around James Harden, in which Thybulle can use his athleticism to run the floor in transition or cut backdoor for spoon-fed finishes. But with the Sixers’ offense ultimately centered on Embiid, the defense’s ability to completely ignore Thybulle in the halfcourt setting is a problem with no clear solution.
Plenty of teams should have interest in Thybulle. He’s presumably at the front end of his prime still and he’s an absolute star on the defensive end. Most teams don’t have a ball-dominant center of Embiid’s caliber commanding the middle of the floor offensively. Put Thybulle in five-out groups with room to weaponize his athleticism as a cutter, and his offensive repertoire might not be totally untenable.
While Tobias Harris is the talk of the town as far as trade rumors right now, it would strike me as more likely that Thybulle gets traded. He’s on a much more manageable contract, he’s younger, and he’s straight-up less important for Philadelphia’s immediate success. Or, if Harris and his two years of mega-expensive contract are dealt, do not be surprised if Thybulle is included as sweetener.