Sixers: Pass or pursue on 4 proposed trades

Tobias Harris, Sixers trades Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Tobias Harris, Sixers trades Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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Philadelphia 76ers
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The Sixers’ slow start has led many to demand action ahead of the February trade deadline. While injuries have no doubt played a role in Philadelphia’s uninspiring record, it’s not hard to poke holes in the roster construction too. There’s room to improve, and Daryl Morey has never been one to sit idly while contenders flourish elsewhere.

Are the Sixers capable of making a big splash, though? A large chunk of Philly’s draft capital was shipped to Brooklyn in the James Harden trade. The stars are off the table for obvious reasons and the Sixers aren’t exactly swimming in quality young players right now (and the quality young players they do have are too good to qualify as trade sweetener).

It will take extreme creativity on the part of Daryl Morey to meaningfully change the DNA of this team. Thankfully, Morey is creative — as are many of the NBA writers out there proposing Sixers-centric trades. Let’s take a look at some Philly-inspired trade ideas from around the web and pass judgement.

Pass or pursue Sixers trade for Jonathan Isaac

From Mike O’Connor of The Rights to Ricky Sanchez

Very tempting. The Sixers ostensibly swap 1.5 rotation players for three rotation players. Gary Harris has been quite effective in various roles for Orlando and the Sixers are very familiar with Terrence Ross’s ability to get hot — scorching hot — off the bench. The crux of the trade, of course, lies in one’s opinion of Jonathan Isaac.

Off-court controversies aside, Isaac has not played NBA basketball since 2020. The Sixers would be giving up a cornerstone piece of the starting five in Harris for a player who may never return to form. Healthy Isaac is arguably better than Harris — especially in the context of Philadelphia’s current roster needs — but healthy Isaac is currently a distant memory. Isaac doesn’t currently have a set date to return and the Sixers are in title-contending mode, which makes gambling on unproven and uncertain assets a particularly risky business.

Even so, this trade is not a one-for-one swap. Even if you’re not confident in Isaac individually, the additions of Gary Harris and Terrence Ross make it more immediately palatable. Both are good enough to play for this team. (Gary) Harris could even replace (Tobias) Harris in the starting five until Isaac’s return. He’s a solid 3-and-D wing who doesn’t need touches to impact winning.

One’s opinion on Thybulle will also color their perception of this trade. The Thybulle Truthers who believe he is a future Defensive Player of the Year candidate would likely laugh Orlando off the phone. Those who think he’s a benchwarmer masquerading as an interesting young prospect would obviously be more inclined to consider it.

In the end, I think I’d be willing to stomach the risk on paper. Isaac is a game-changing defender who would pair beautifully with Embiid long-term. If Isaac were healthy (and perhaps a bit quieter in his off-court beliefs) we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But alas, that’s not the case and we don’t know when or if Isaac will ever get back to full speed. That being considered, there’s a fair amount of risk here for the Sixers in a do-or-die season. But what’s life without a little risk?

Final verdict: Pursue