When Matisse Thybulle and the player he was traded away for, Jalen McDaniels, hit the open market, there is no doubt who was more prized in free agency. Philadelphia 76ers general manager Daryl Morey got an egg on his face for this move from the rest of the NBA.
When Matisse Thybulle was traded at the deadline in a three-way deal in which the Sixers received Jalen McDaniels from the Charlotte Hornets, it was expected that general manager Daryl Morey was looking for an upgrade in the wing position, to help get ready for the big playoff run.
After all, the 6-foot-5 Thybulle was barely playing for the Sixers at the time. Despite being a two-time second-team All-NBA defensive player (which as a sub is almost unheard of), coach Doc Rivers had him on the bench due to his lack of offensive ability.
The 6’10” McDaniels was advertised as a good defensive player who could also put the ball in the basket.
How did that work out? Badly at the time, and even worse now.
Thybulle ended up a full-time starter for the Trail Blazers, averaging 7.4 points a game and shooting 38.8% on three-pointers, 5.3 points better than with the Sixers.
McDaniels? Well, Doc Rivers sat him on the bench for the playoffs, so the trade netted them less than nothing:
Now would Rivers have used Thybulle in the playoffs? Maybe when Jayson Tatum was torching them for 50 points in Game 7, the defensive whiz might have been useful. Considering how poorly the bench shot in the entire Celtics series, Thybulle could not have done any worse on the offensive end and contributed a heck of a lot more on defense.
NBA free agency shows a wide gap in players’ value in Philadelphia 76ers trade
Money talks and when both McDaniels and Thybulle hit the free agent market, the amount of money each signed for was not even close:
Thybulle, a restricted free agent, signed with the Dallas Mavericks for three years and $33 million, with some ‘poison pills’ put in the contract to make Portland not want to match.
Guess what, poison and all, the Trail Blazers quickly matched it, and Matisse will remain, for now (never know when one could get thrown in a Damian Lillard trade), with Portland.
While Thybulle signed for an $11 million a year average, McDaniels inked a two-year deal with the Toronto Raptors for a total of $9.3 million, or $4.15 million a year, about 35 percent of what Thybulle will be paid.
Do the people ‘Up North’ think they stole a solid role player from the Sixers due to the incompetence of former coach Doc Rivers? Yup.
Here is Raptors Rapture:
"The Toronto Raptors stole Jalen McDaniels.… it is not unreasonable to assume the reason for such a rapid decline in playing time was poor roster management by a coach who was recently fired in Doc Rivers."
To put it in perspective, McDaniels left an NBA title contender (we hope) for a team middling around .500 the past couple of seasons, to take a deal in which he will be paid less than Furkan Korkmaz.
Obviously, either the 76ers made little attempt to retain McDaniels, which would be odd since new coach Nick Nurse likes long, athletic, defensive-oriented players, or the whole experience at the end of the season soured McDaniels so much, he simply wanted to get out of Philly.
Whatever the reason, Morey’s move at the trade deadline did not help when needed the most, in the playoffs, and currently looks even worse. Two NBA teams, Dallas and Portland, are saying where it counts, money on the table, that they consider Matisse Thybulle a valuable player.
Now, Thybulle not getting like LeBron James or Steph Curry money, it’s around the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, but it is a lot more than a guy who was a benchwarmer for the Sixers should expect to receive. None of the players who played ahead of Thybulle in the rotation, that left in free agency, are getting that much.
This is not the first time Morey whiffed on a trade deadline deal.
In 2021, he sent a 2025 first-round draft pick (!!) to the Oklahoma City Thunder for 34-year-old guard George Hill. The theory was that Hill was a veteran ballhandler who could also shoot, unlike their starting point guard at the time, and would help in the playoffs.
What Morey & Co. forgot to factor in was that Hill had not played in months due to a broken hand. He played like a 34-year-old who was rusty and had a bad hand, averaging a measly 4.7 points in the playoffs and was generally ineffective.
Remember this two years from now, when the Sixers have no first-round pick because of the George Hill deal.
There were financial reasons the trade was made, to keep the Sixers out of the repeater tax, which is also why they got rid of Isaiah Joe (another move that blew up in their face), but if the Sixers had not been anchored by horrible contracts for guys who can’t play, the move would not have needed to be made.
But the bottom line is, Doc Rivers was not playing Matisse Thybulle, and then he did not play McDaniels, so neither player contributed anything.
But the way the Mavericks and Trail Blazers are throwing money at Thybulle, they must see something in him that eluded Rivers, Morey, and the Sixers organization.