Amid the whirlwind of Anthony Davis trade rumors, the NBA community finally has a tangible trade to be excited about.
The Philadelphia 76ers showed they are officially committed to a finals push this season by acquiring forward Tobias Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers, according to an ESPN report published Wednesday morning.
Harris, 26, is having his best season as a pro and arguably should have earned his first All-Star nod. Averaging nearly 20 points and eight rebounds per game, he’s now one of the Sixers best forwards alongside the Big 3 of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler, a situation he’s clearly excited about. (RELATED: Fans Aren’t Happy About The NBA Snubbing Worthy All-Stars … Again)
— Tobias Harris (@tobias31) February 6, 2019
Philadelphia also acquired forward Mike Scott and 7-foot-3 fan-favorite Boban Marjanovic in exchange for potential First-Team All-Rookie guard Landry Shamet, Philadelphia’s own 2020 protected first-round pick, an unprotected 2021 first-round pick via the Miami Heat, forwards Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala, and 2021 and 2023 second-round picks via the Detroit Pistons.
This trade makes a lot of sense for both sides. For the Clippers, this deal not only gives them valuable picks and potential trade assets, but allows them to commit to clearing cap space for two max-level players.
They’ll surely target Davis and Kawhi Leonard for those two spots, both of who expressed interest in joining the organization, according to ESPN. The Clippers started this season off strong despite an average roster, hovering around the top spot in the Western Conference through the first month, proving to potential free agents they’re no longer the laughable Clippers of old.
For the Sixers, this is the second big-name acquisition for first-year Sixers General Manager Elton Brand, who snagged Jimmy Butler earlier this season from the Minnesota Timberwolves. His willingness to part with the majority of the team’s assets shows his commitment to a win-now mentality, but putting all his eggs in this basket may come back to haunt him if they flop.
Even before adding Tobias Harris, the @sixers are the only team in the NBA with four players averaging at least 17.0 PPG this season. The reported Harris trade would give them a fifth. pic.twitter.com/QUKGnR1gmX
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 6, 2019
Butler and Harris are both on expiring contracts and will surely be looking for max deals this offseason. Philly said they plan to be aggressive in trying to sign them both long-term, according to ESPN, but with Embiid already signed to a big contract, keeping these two may not leave much flexibility to round out the bench.
Butler also hasn’t always looked comfortable in his role on the Sixers, and adding another high-volume scorer into the mix might only further frustrate him if they don’t at least reach the conference finals.
But if they make a run then it’ll all be worth it. They now have one of the most high-powered starting lineups in the NBA, and adding a 43 percent stretch forward to the eighth-ranked 3-point shooting team, according to basketball-reference, only makes them that much more dangerous. Harris can play off-ball and create his own shot when needed, so there’s no reason why he can’t jell with the second-best assisting team in the league.
Depth is still a major issue, especially at guard, but if former No.1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and rookie Zhaire Smith can come back and produce this season, then this team is must-see TV.
The Clippers will still being duking it out with the Lakers for stars, but with the media circus surrounding LeBron James these days and coach Luke Walton getting aired by his players, don’t be surprised if big name free agents find the red, white and blue more favorable than purple and gold moving forward.