Would the Sixers be better served trading Markelle Fultz to Phoenix?
Acquiring the Suns Trevor Ariza would be perfect for the Sixers.
Markelle Fultz's trade value has dwindled, but there is a market for him — under a certain condition. He and his representatives need to be truthful, a league source says.
In other words, potential 76ers trade partners don't want Fultz saying that his right shoulder and wrist are bothering him if he actually has a mental block that's hindering his shooting, the source said.
That was the word coming out of Cleveland, as the Cavaliers were interested in taking a chance on the 2017 first overall pick before trading Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, sources said. The Phoenix Suns are among the teams with some level of interest, a source said.
However, Fultz comes with some red flags and questions. Who's running the show? Is his family a major distraction? And what's the next step after this week's visit to shoulder specialists in New York?
Teams are awaiting the news.
But some fans may feel the Sixers missed out on a golden opportunity to add Korver for the second time in several months.
The Cavs sent him to the Utah Jazz for Alec Burks and second-round picks in 2020 and 2021.
The Sixers had discussions about trading for Korver in the summer. At that time, they were considering trading Jerryd Bayless for the 37-year-old former Sixer. That trade never materialized, and Bayless was packaged with Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and a 2022 second-round pick for Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The acquisition of Korver would have brought back a fan favorite who is one of the league's top three-point shooters. He would have been an upgrade from former Sixer Marco Belinelli, who signed as a free agent with San Antonio in July.
But would acquiring Korver, especially at this time, have been in the Sixers' best interest?
The Sixers will have better options if they wait at least until Dec. 15. The Sixers, who have an open roster spot, could even wait until the February trade deadline or the buyout market around that time to add a player.
But Dec. 15 is important, because that's when players who signed free-agent deals in the summer can become eligible for trades.
A guy such as Suns small forward Trevor Ariza, who signed a one-year free-agent deal, would the perfect fit with the Sixers as a solid shooter and defender. If needed, he could play power forward in the Sixers system, as Wilson Chandler, another traditional small forward, is doing. Ariza, Butler, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid would form a stellar defensive quartet in the starting lineup to go with the sharpshooting JJ Redick. That would also enable the Sixers to bring Chandler off the bench.
The Suns had interest in Fultz leading up to last year's draft. Their analytics people thought he had a huge upside, but they had huge concerns about his support system.
The Suns and Sixers would probably need to add players to the deal to make the salaries work. Ariza is making $15 million this season, and Fultz makes $8.3 million.
The Suns need talent and could take a chance on a player with a huge upside, such as Fultz. If he fails, they would not need to pick up his fourth-year option in October. Phoenix also realizes it could lose Ariza at the end of this season without getting anything back.
For the Sixers, trading for a player in the final year of his contract would enable them to avoid taking on another contract for next season and save the $9.7 million that Fultz is guaranteed for next season. Butler is expected to opt out of the final season, 2019-20, of his deal. The money saved by trading Fultz could allow the Sixers to add another top free agent in addition to re-signing Butler.
The Sixers' second unit has been defenseless, with guards Furkan Korkmaz and Landry Shamet and post player Mike Muscala struggling to make stops. The Sixers will be better off pairing the three shooters with a solid defender instead of another shooter.
The Sixers also could fill that need with the vacant roster spot or trade for a two-way player similar to Ariza.
But before that happens, teams want to know more about Fultz to see whether he's worth the gamble.
In Phoenix, adding Fultz would allow standout Devin Booker to slide over to shooting guard. Fultz, Booker, and rookie center Deandre Ayton could form a good nucleus to build around if Fultz can produce.
But, there are questions that need to be answered. One can only imagine the number of phone calls that interested teams will place about his state of mind.
Fultz is seeing several specialists in New York this week. That comes after his agent and lawyer, Raymond Brothers, told the Sixers last week that Fultz, who had played 19 games this season with 15 starts, would not practice or play until he saw a shoulder specialist. Fultz also is dealing with a right wrist injury, the Athletic reported. Wednesday's home game against the New York Knicks will mark the fourth game he has missed.
Sources have long said that his shooting woes were mental and that Fultz was dealing with the yips.
Potential trade partners simply want the truth.