The obvious question is, what are the 76ers looking for in Wednesday’s NBA draft? Give Vince Rozman, the team’s vice president of scouting, credit for keeping things close to the vest.
A year ago, the team addressed the need for a perimeter defender by trading up to acquire Matisse Thybulle with the 20th overall pick. They did this after promising to draft the lockdown defender at No. 24 if available. Then the Sixers tried to take care of another need by adding sharpshooter Marial Shayok in the second round.
Heading into Wednesday’s draft, the team’s biggest needs are additional ballhandlers and perimeter shooters. But you won’t hear Rozman say that, publicly.
“When you look back at last year, we ended [up getting Thybulle and Shayok],” he said when asked about this season’s biggest needs. "I don’t know if there was a special target for like a perimeter defender. I think if we didn’t get Matisse, we probably would have gotten someone who is a different profile.
“And similar to this year, our primary focus is to get guys that one, two, three years down the road are still in the league and useful.”
Rozman said the Sixers' primary focus is getting someone who can contribute, regardless of the “skills they are providing.”
The Sixers have the 21st pick in the first round and picks 34, 36, 49, and 58 in the second.
They could trade their first-rounder to move up in the draft, or package it in a blockbuster trade for a star veteran player.
A win-now executive, new Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey made a knack of trading away draft picks as the Houston Rockets general manager. The Rockets haven’t chosen a first-rounder since selecting Sam Dekker in 2015 because of his approach.
James Harden continues to be mentioned the most as a possible acquisition.
The Sixers had interest in the Houston Rockets franchise player even before hiring Morey, Harden’s former boss. Sacramento Kings shooting guard Buddy Hield, San Antonio Spurs reserve point guard Patty Mills and Jrue Holiday had also been mentioned as possible trade targets heading into Monday night. However, the New Orleans Pelicans traded Holiday to the Milwaukee Bucks late Monday night for Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and three first-rounders and pick swaps. One of the first-rounders the Pelicans will receive is the 24th overall pick in Wednesday’s draft, according to The Athletic.
A source confirmed a Ringer report that the Sixers are interested in Mills. Sources have said the Sixers were among the many teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics, interested in Holiday, the Sixers’ 2009 first-round pick who went to the Pelicans in the 2013 trade that brought Nerlens Noel to Philadelphia.
Another Milwaukee transaction may have hindered the Sixers ability to trade for Hield. The Kings agreed to sign-and-trade in the early hours of Tuesday that will send Bogdan Bogdanovic and Justin James to Milwaukee in exchange for Donte DiVincenzo, D.J. Wilson and Ersan Ilyasova.
Before this trade, the Kings were considering to trade the disgruntled Hield as a way to slash salary and sign Bogdanovic to a lucrative deal. But with Bogdanovic gone, Sacramento would be wise to keep the sharpshooting Hield.
The Sixers were also interested in point guard Chris Paul, whom the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Monday (along with Abdel Nader) to the Phoenix Suns for Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and a protected 2022 first-round pick.
Hield has indicated on social media that he would like to be traded to the Sixers. There’s also a report that he wants to play for the Dallas Mavericks.
» READ MORE: NBA mock draft: Could Sixers go for a shooter?
Harden wants out of Houston. The Brooklyn Nets and the Sixers appear to be his preferred destinations. ESPN reported that the Nets are considering the possibility of a trade, but noted it was unclear how far the franchise would go to acquire the three-time reigning scoring champion. Harden was in Los Angeles working out with several Nets players last week, according to sources.
ESPN reported Monday night that Harden turned down a two-year contract extension at $100 million on top of the remaining three-year, $133 million on his current contract. According to the report, Harden’s turning down the deal made it clear that he’s focused on going to Brooklyn. He gave up an opportunity to be the league’s first $50 million-a-year player.
Guards Cole Anthony (North Carolina), Tyrell Terry (Stanford), Nico Mannion (Arizona), Josh Green (Arizona), Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama), and Malachi Flynn (San Diego State), and small forward Saddiq Bey (Villanova) are being mentioned among possible Sixers draft acquisitions if they keep the first-round pick.
Since Morey was hired three weeks ago, Rozman said the Sixers have been getting him up to speed in the team’s draft preparation.
“I think the one thing that immediately comes through with Daryl is kind of the pace of which he works, and trying to keep up with that,” Rozman said. “From a philosophical standpoint, I think we still got a couple of days to go. It’s hard to say. It’s hard to say right now where exactly his head is and how he is going to view those five picks.”