The 76ers are trying to put things in place ahead of the June 23 NBA draft and free agency.
Multiple league sources have said the team is gauging teams’ interest in Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, and Shake Milton, in addition to potential trade partners for Danny Green and the No. 23 pick.
The Sixers are trying to gauge the market to see what they can get for the players and the draft pick, one source said. This approach is part of their effort to compile information and see what deals could work when it’s time to make a trade.
The Sixers realize their current roster is not suited to win an NBA championship. They’re determined to upgrade it with established players who can help propel them.
Harris, Thybulle, Milton, Korkmaz, Green, and the draft pick are the best available trade assets, with the team focused on keeping Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. James Harden, whose stock has declined, has said in the past that he intends to pick up his $47.3 million option for next season.
READ MORE: Trading Danny Green and the No. 23 pick could help the Sixers’ efforts to contend next season
Harris has two years and $76.9 million remaining on the five-year, $180-million contract he signed on July 10, 2019.
The Sixers have publicly stated that they’re going to bring back their core of players, including Harris. However, privately, the team is once again trying to see what the market is for its fourth-leading scorer behind Embiid, Harden, and Maxey.
The Sixers have unsuccessfully tried to trade Harris in the past, as he was included in some instances in a package with Ben Simmons before the February trade deadline. The Sixers eventually sent Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round picks along with Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets for Harden and Paul Millsap.
The Sixers would love to acquire a third star to play alongside perennial All-Stars Embiid and Harden. A trade would also allow Harris to be more involved in a team’s game plan. He has been the third or fourth option throughout his Sixers tenure.
Harris’ contract is the best way to facilitate the type of move that would bring another maximum-salary player to a Sixers team that is over the salary cap. But the Sixers will have to find a team willing to take on his salary. The Sixers might also have to include assets, perhaps through a third team, to entice a squad with available salary-cap space to take on Harris’ deal.
Thybulle was deemed untouchable before last season’s trade deadline. The Sixers’ refusal to trade him was a small holdup in the trade with the Nets for Harden.
However, Thybulle, heading into his fourth year, is a two-time second-team All-Defensive selection but has not progressed offensively at the pace the Sixers would like. In the playoffs, Thybulle was left wide open for a shot at times while his defender roamed around or double-teamed another player. He also missed significant time in the Sixers’ first-round series against the Raptors because he is unvaccinated.
READ MORE: The Sixers haven’t handled their third star properly. Tobias Harris is the latest example.
But this offseason marks the first one in which Thybulle is able to focus on improving his offensive game. He was unable to do that during the pandemic lockdown following his rookie season. Then he spent last summer with the Australian men’s basketball team, winning a bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
However, team president Daryl Morey is said to be a fan of Thybulle, who is heading into the final year of his rookie deal. Thybulle is also working out with the Sixers skills development coaches in Arizona. He will be eligible for a five-year, $186 million extension this summer. While it’s unlikely that he’ll get that extension, his status with the team is something to pay close attention to.
The Sixers have a club option of $1.9 million on Milton for next season. And it was reported on Wednesday by HoopsHype.com that the Sixers would indeed pick up that option. Prior to that, there was a belief around the league that the Sixers would not pick up Milton’s option.
It would make sense to bring back Milton so that the Sixers can package him in a trade after the draft is over and heading into free agency. If they don’t pick up that option, they would have to trade him by July 1, meaning their bargaining power would be almost zero because why would a team trade for a player who could be scooped up as an unrestricted free agent on July 1 ?
Milton and Georges Niang were the Sixers’ best reserves this past season. But Milton isn’t a pure point guard. He thrives as a ball-dominant scoring guard, and the Sixers already have ball handlers in Harden and Maxey. As a result, Milton might not be a good fit moving forward, even though he was their most effective player in the Game 6 loss to Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference playoff series that ended their season.
Milton and Korkmaz had their minutes slashed after the Sixers acquired Harden at the February trade deadline.
Korkmaz is heading into the final two years of his deal after coming off the worst three-point shooting season (28.9%) of his career.
READ MORE: Will the Sixers trade their first-round draft pick? In any scenario, they almost have to.
Sources have said that the Indiana Pacers were one of the teams that inquired about Korkmaz before last season’s trade deadline. The belief at that time was that a change of scenery may help the four-year wing jump-start his career.
Now, sources are saying he’s part of the group of the players the Sixers are putting out feelers on to test the market.