The Philadelphia 76ers are nearing the close of trading. The Sixers, currently third, are within striking distance of the conference No. 2, just a half-game behind the Bucks for that spot.
As a result, the Sixers are unlikely to be among the teams looking for significant upgrades before the February close. If anything, the buzz is what the team is looking for to save money, don’t spend it.
If so, some of the team’s more expensive rotating pieces could find an earlier-than-expected exit from Philly. And one, Matisse Thybulle, has recently been the subject of some front-office chatter. According to an Eastern Conference GM, the Sixers could look to move the defensive stopper to San Antonio and bring back big man Zach Collins.
“San Antonio has shown some interest [in Matisse Thybulle]Thybulle is a [Gregg] Popovich is kind of a player and they’re trying to do some cleanup projects down there,” the GM told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney. “The Sixers could give Zach Collins a chance, they’re really looking for some depth on offense. I’m not sure if they’re interested in Collins, but that would be the only guy that makes sense there.”
As the GM noted, Philly keeps a close watch on the depth of the apron, a point of inconsistency that has plagued the Sixers at times this season. So far, Montrezl Harrell has cemented his place as Joel Embiid’s backup, but his lackluster game has barely won the hearts of fans.
As Liberty Ballers’ Dave Early noted, Harrell is far from a trusted source on the floor. And the team’s younger backup big, Paul Reed, hasn’t built enough trust in Doc Rivers either.
“[The Sixers] Don’t trust Reed and the guy they love to play hasn’t done enough to justify his consistent role…for the third year in a row,” Early wrote a few weeks ago.
Anyone who replaces Embiid on the pitch is bound to disappoint. But given the former’s ugly injury history, the Sixers need to find someone reliable enough to potentially be called up during playoff time.
And Harrell’s net rating of minus 1.7 in his last 12 games (15 minutes per game) suggests he’s not the answer. Over that stretch, the Sixers are 8-4, suggesting Philly is winning games despite getting less than zero from backup Big.
To be fair, Collins’ plus/minus stats aren’t great either. But remember he plays as the second unit in a Spurs team that is routinely outperformed by the opposition. Despite this, he contributes 9.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per night.
In Philadelphia, it’s always handy to have options ahead of time.
On a Jan. 14 episode of “Pullin’ Up With Keith Smith and Adam Taylor,” host Keith Smith suggested a couple of backup bigs that Philly could potentially address about the trade. One option Smith has raised is a familiar face who has played well for the Sixers in the past.
“I wouldn’t really be shocked if it turned into ‘you know what, let’s get Andre Drummond back,'” Smith said. “So he’s a guy whose contract has expired and who’s signed with the Bulls. If the Bulls say, “Yeah, the backup center is a luxury for us because we’re not very good,” Philly might trade for Drummond for next to nothing. And that could be because he played really well for Philadelphia a year ago.
Smith is not alone in this prediction. Drummond was the target of significant trade talks by many for Philadelphia, including the people of Rights to Ricky Sanchez.