LOS ANGELES — The 76ers got their pure point guard, just not the one everyone expected.
The team acquired George Hill from the Oklahoma City Thunder before Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. The Sixers were still hopeful that they could acquire Kyle Lowry from the Toronto Raptors, but that did not happen.
Like Lowry, Hill is a veteran two-way guard that fulfills a major need.
“He can shoot at a high level and defend at a high level,” Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said. “I think one thing that coach [Doc] Rivers and coach [Dan] Burke can do right now is put five strong playoff-tested guys, who can play both ends on the floor, on the floor at one time if they want to do that in crunch time. So we are pretty excited about that.”
Rivers said Hill will probably come of the bench, keeping the starting lineup of Danny Green, Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid, Seth Curry, and Ben Simmons intact.
The team had a discussion with the Golden State Warriors about a deal that would send Green to the Warriors. A source, however, said the two sides did not talk about Green on Thursday as was reported. In the days leading up to the deadline, sources say Green’s agent told him to expect to be traded.
That also did not happen.
Green, a small forward, is making $15 million in the final year of his contract. The Sixers would have had to use his contract in a package to help match salaries in order to acquire Lowry. The six-time All-Star is making $30 million in the final year of his deal.
In Hill, the Sixers got a solid acquisition that can help in their bid to win an NBA title.
“I think it provided a lot of defensive pressure from the guard position, also another savvy veteran who’s played for a while, understands the game,” Dwight Howard said of what Hill’s acquistion brings to the team. “He’s playing for one reason. That’s to win the championship. So I’m looking forward to having him on our team. Looking forward to him making a great impact here in Philadelphia.
“So I can’t wait.”
In addition to Hill, the Sixers acquired Ignas Brazdeikis from the New York Knicks as part of the three-team deal with the Thunder and Knicks. OKC received Tony Bradley and two second-round picks (2025 and 2026) from the Sixers and Austin Rivers, son of Sixers coach Doc Rivers, from New York. The Knicks received Terrance Ferguson, Vicent Poirier, and a 2021 second-round pick from the Sixers. Ferguson and Poirier were not in the Sixers’ rotation.
The Sixers acquired Ferguson and Poirier from the Thunder in December. Under league rules, they could not trade them back to OKC at this time. In order to make the trade, the Sixers and Thunder needed a third team. It became the Knicks.
Howard said it’s sad to see Bradley, Ferguson, and Poirier leave. On Tuesday, Bradley made his sixth straight start and seventh overall at center this season for injured MVP candidate Joel Embiid.
“No matter how many minutes they played, they worked extremely hard,” Howard said of his former teammates. “It might not show up in the newspaper, video, or in games. But the hard work and intensity that those three guys provided was very motivating for myself, but also a lot of guys on the team.”
This move enabled the Sixers (31-13) to keep some of their talented young players and Green.
The Raptors wanted the Sixers to include second-year shooting guard Matisse Thybulle, rookie combo guard Tyrese Maxey, and two draft picks in a package for Lowry. The Sixers, however, were not willing to part ways with Thybulle, one of the league’s top defenders.
In addition to multiple players, Toronto wanted multiple premium picks, and a rotation player, if not a starter, for Lowry. The Sixers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, and Clippers were the teams vying for Lowry. The tough part was finding a way to get close enough to $30 million to make the deal work. Lowry also wanted to get an indication that the team that traded for him would sign him to a two-year deal worth $25 million per season in the off season.
A league executive thought a package of Green, Mike Scott, Maxey, another player, and a draft pick could get the deal done if Toronto could create available roster spots to match up salaries.
The holdup for Miami was Tyler Herro. The Raptors want him included in the deal, but the Heat were unwilling to include him in a package.
Hill is making $9.5 million this season and will make $10 million next season with just $1.2 million guaranteed.
“We are really a young team, so adding a veteran like him will be great for us,” Rivers said.
However, the 34-year-old Hill has missed most of the season after having surgery on his right thumb on Feb. 2. Hill sustained the injury on Jan. 24. The injury is described as a mallet finger injury. Also known as “baseball finger,” it can occur when a ball bends a finger backward and injures a tendon, according to orthoinfo.org.
The timeline for Hill’s return could be around a week. He’s expected to be fully healthy upon his return. Hill didn’t have to have surgery. He opted to get it to avoid any issues moving forward.
Hill averaged 11.8 points, 3.1 assists, 2.1 rebounds, and 26.4 minutes in 14 games in Oklahoma City. Last season, he averaged 9.8 points and shot a league-best 46.0% on three-pointers with the Milwaukee Bucks. Hill is also averaging 11.1 points, 3.2 assists, and shooting 38.4% on three-pointers in 799 career games with 463 starts.
The Sixers’ acquisition of Hill made a lot of sense, because he’s someone that will be among the top seven players in their rotation. As a solid shooter and defender, the Sixers can put Hill in closing situations in the playoffs.
Hill “is just one of those guys you like on your team, you know, shoots the heck out of the ball, defends well, a good veteran,” Rivers said. “We are really a young team. So adding a veteran like him would be great for us.”
Shortly after the trade deadline, the Sixers turned their attention to the buyout market. They are in the market for adding depth in the post. They need a guy that can break the defense down and create for himself and others.