76ers Trade Deadline Preview: Wings
It's the most wonderful time of the year—Trade Season—and your 76ers are right in the thick of it. In this three-part series, I will be outlining just about every player the Sixers can trade for ahead of the March 25 trade deadline. Your squad is on a chase for a championship, and I've got you covered with everything you need to know.
The final part of my trilogy is here. I started off with bigs last weekend following Joel Embiid's knee injury, and then pivoted to ball handlers after that. Now it's time for the wings, a position group that every team could use for high level playoff series. "Too many" of these guys on a team is usually a good thing--so long as they have the right skill sets.
Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic
Fournier has sneakily become one of the best players available. The Magic are fading out of the playoff picture, and every indication from reporters is that they're willing to sell guys who don't fit their long-term outlook. He's 28 years old and up for a new contract this summer; do the Magic want him to be a part of their future, or get value while they can?
In a market short on sellers, Orlando could get a good haul for Fournier. The 6'7" Frenchman is having a career year, averaging 18.5 points and 3.8 assists on .450/.371/.790 shooting splits. Factor in his expiring contract and modest salary of $17 million, and a trade is pretty easy to generate for all kinds of teams.
The Sixers' offense would get a huge boost with a guy like him in the fold. Fournier is a legitimately good shooter, having finished all but two seasons with a 3-point percentage over 37% (career clip of 37.5%). He also adds more playmaking flair than you'd expect, ranking in the 68th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball handler this season (per NBA.com), which opens a lot of doors in a two-man game with Embiid.
Fournier has never been known as a top flight defender, but he definitely competes, and has the build at least be playable on that end in a playoff series. Size matters in the postseason, and Fournier adds to that while also upgrading the offense quite a bit. He would not only give the lineup a jolt, but the bench as well by shifting one of Seth Curry or Danny Green into a reserve role.
The cost isn't going to be cheap. It wouldn't shock me to see Orlando ask for one of Matisse Thybulle or Tyrese Maxey in a trade, considering they're the most expendable trade chips the Sixers have. At the absolute least, Furkan Korkmaz would have to be in the package, along with some of the end-of-bench players on expiring contracts.
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets
Another scoring wing with a playmaking dimension is Barton, a fixture in the Nuggets rotation for several years. The Sixers are among the teams interested in him, but it's unclear how much interest in a trade is coming from the Nuggets' side.
Them moving on from Barton would strictly be a financial move; his $14.9 million player option would push them right up against the luxury tax line. That's a zone that Nuggets' governorship has deliberately ducked in recent years: both Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried were dumped onto teams with cap space (one being the Sixers) back in the summer of 2018.
Even if that's the motive, it's hard to see Denver giving him up easily. He's a crucial piece of a team with high aspirations, despite what the standings say. Led by Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, that Denver team will still be a force come playoff time--and Barton is an important part of that formula.
Barton would help the Sixers quite a bit. He would fit right in with the bench unit, lightening Shake Milton's load and giving the group a much needed spark offensively. Defensively he's about the same as Fournier: not great, but can't be worse than the current options (Curry is undersized and Green's wear-and-tear is showing).
Should the Nuggets be comfortable stomaching that loss, the Sixers will be right there to make an offer. Maxey and Thybulle are probably off the table, but Korkmaz, salary and some second rounders might get it done. Really it all comes down to how willing Barton's team is to actually deal him.
Kevin Knox, New York Knicks
In each of the first two pieces I expounded on top picks who have underwhelmed since entering the league. Among wings still on their rookie contracts, Knox sticks out as an intriguing buy-low option.
"Underwhelming" is putting it mildly for Knox. He's struggled in Tom Thibodeau's rotation this year, which is now the third coaching staff he's failed to break through with. The University of Kentucky alum is down to a career-low 5.0 points per game in just 14.4 minutes a night. Thibs is known to play young guys less, but even by those standards it's not a great look for Knox.
In his defense the Knicks haven't exactly been a model organization in his time in the league, and he's not the only recent lottery pick to disappoint (see: Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina). There's too much talent to not give him a look. Coming out of UK at 6'7" with scoring skills and defensive tools, some scouts were enamored with Knox's upside as a mismatch scorer. He has the foundation to be a really good multipurpose player in the NBA if a team can figure out how to get it out of him.
The front office in charge now didn't select Knox, so it may be more pragmatic in getting value for him. Or it may be unwilling to sell low on that type of talent. Not much is clear on what the Knicks' strategy is, other than clearing the cap sheet for potential free agents. But if he's available, it wouldn't be for a premium.
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets - Gordon could've been in the Ball Handlers piece too. His versatility on and off the ball is a credit to him makes him very valuable on contenders, which is why he's on the list. Trading for him is difficult right now though, as he'll be out for at least a week after the trade deadline. It's unlikely the Rockets sell low on him.
Terrence Ross, Magic - Orlando's a seller, and Ross fits right in with most contenders as a 3-and-D bench wing with some pop. The Sixers would love to have him; it's just a matter of governorship signing off on paying the luxury tax again.
Ben McLemore, Rockets - One of Daryl Morey's many reclamation projects in Houston, McLemore is also a wing who won't hurt you on either end. His shooting has curtailed this year, but it seems like a fluke given recent history. He'd be playable in the postseason.
Wayne Ellington, Detroit Pistons - Sixers fans have wanted Ellington for a while, and it's not just because he's from the area. Ellington is an excellent shooter, getting off that lightning-quick shot in almost every way imaginable. If he can hang defensively, he's a deadly bench sniper for this team.
J.J. Redick, New Orleans Pelicans - I've already covered how Redick would fit here, and it seems like he's a buyout candidate at this point. The Sixers would be glad to have him if so.
James Ennis, Magic - No one's quite sure why the Sixers traded Ennis in the first place. He was a serviceable wing, trustworthy in the postseason (save a few brain farts) and definitely seemed like a fit in the locker room. Morey liked him once before, and he's likely to be either traded or bought out.
Kenrich Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder - I'm honestly not sure why Williams is available, but I'm not going to question it. He's a really intriguing two-way wing, only 26 years old, and on a great contract. Everyone should be making a run at him.