MILWAUKEE – This is the third of many weekly 76ers mailbags.
Each week, Inquirer.com followers can submit questions that may be answered in our Mailbag series.
Missed out on the party this week? No worries — you can submit your question(s) for next time by following me on Twitter @PompeyOnSixers and submitting questions with the hashtag #PompeysMailbagFlow.
Let’s jump right into this week’s questions:
Q: What made you think this team was better than last year with the changes they did and didn’t make? I, for one, didn’t see an improvement. — @PBA40
A: Thanks for the question, but I never said that about last season’s squad. I actually think this team has taken a step back. Think about it. The Sixers lost their sharpshooter in JJ Redick and their closer in Jimmy Butler.
Those are the two things the Sixers desperately need. Brett Brown said in the preseason that the Sixers would play smash-mouth defense and bully-ball offense due to their size. However, they’re basically a towering finesse team. They’ve just added much-needed shooting with the trade acquisitions of Alec Burks and Glen Robinson III. This team could make a run to climb the standings and in the postseason. However, last season’s squad was a more of a complete team.
Q: I’m desperate to keep Joel and Ben together ... will they stay together? What’s the relative value for either player on the trade market?— @osuphan96
A: I think the Sixers will try to keep them together until they’ve exhausted every effort to make this pairing work. If not, I think they’ll be forced to move one of them to keep the team trending in a positive direction.
As All-Stars, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons both have a lot of value on the trade market. That’s not to say that both of them don’t have flaws and/or issues that would lead to the Sixers releasing them. The major trade-value concern with Embiid is his health and conditioning. He’s been injured every season. He’s also been out of shape at points during the season.
But he’s arguably the league’s best center. So someone is going to take a chance on him.
Meanwhile, Simmons is also a phenomenal player that could anchor a franchise. The only problem with him is his refusal to shoot the ball in the perimeter. Just taking shots could elevate him to becoming one of the all-time greats. But since he doesn’t, he can become a liability in the half-court as a primary ball-handler. So that’s a concern for teams.
But as transcendent players, their trade value is extremely high.
Q: Do you like what the Sixers did at the trade deadline vs. Miami? — @fantasygurulone
A: Miami kind of hit a home run at the trade deadline, acquiring Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill, while trading away Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and James Johnson. But at the same time, they had the assets to go out and get Iguodala, Crowder and Hill. So it’s kind of unfair for me to compare the two teams because we are not talking apples for apples. But I think the Sixers did a solid job considering they didn’t really have any assets to give up. They literally picked up Burks and Robinson, two rotation guys for three second-round picks.
The Sixers did the best with their hand.
Q: With the Clippers planning to cut him, any chance the Sixers go after Isaiah Thomas? — @Rhealdeal
A: Right now, I think it depends on who else is out there. Plus, the choice would be his, assuming they do pursue him. Think about it, Thomas needs to look for an opportunity where he’s going to have a solid role, considering he’s basically playing for his next contract.
But I would look long and hard at time. He’s not as explosive as before the injuries. But if you think he can help you win, put in your bid if there’s nothing else available similar to his skillset.
Q: Do you think Al Horford will be on the Sixers’ roster next year? — @ThybulleBible
A: I do. I think that he has a hard salary to trade right now. After this season, he will have three seasons and $97 million guaranteed. Horford will also be 34 years old. So even if a team likes him, they may be a little hesitant about bringing him in with that combination.