The 76ers are intent on contending for next season’s NBA title.
They are exploring trades involving Danny Green and the No. 23 pick in the June 23 NBA draft, according to sources. The Ringer was first to report the news.
And, for what it’s worth, the move makes sense.
The Sixers’ best bet is to see what kind of established player they can get for that pick. They need someone who can help right away. And that’s not currently the case with Green, who will miss most, if not all, of next season after he suffered torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee in May.
As a result, the Sixers will be in the market for a proven two-way wing player to replace Green, in addition to a backup center capable of helping right away. With a roster that lacks physicality, the Sixers will also want those players to bring instant toughness.
The Sixers could find a team that is in rebuilding mode and willing to trade a good player for the 23rd pick. They could then agree on a trade before the draft and select a prospect on behalf of said team. In that scenario, the Sixers could swap the draftee along with Green, whose $10 million salary for next season is non-guaranteed. His salary would be used to help orchestrate a deal and match up salaries. Looking to free up salary-cap space, the other team could turn around and waive Green before his salary becomes fully guaranteed on July 1.
This scenario fits what The Inquirer has heard from sources, who have said the Sixers are looking for ways to dump Green’s salary while getting value for it. With Green unable to play, his salary is nothing more than dead money on the salary cap.
Trading Green and the draftee is also suited for the Sixers because a player selected with the 23rd pick is not going help their title push.
Santa Clara guard Jalen Williams, LSU forward Tari Eason, Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell, Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley, and NBA G League Ignite guards MarJon Beauchamp and Jaden Hardy are among the prospects who could be at No. 23 if the Sixers keep the pick.
But Eason might be the only one who could be a solid rotation player at this point. And none of them would make a major contribution on a championship squad. That’s not a knock, it’s just a reality.
Two prime examples are Golden State rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.
Kuminga was selected seventh in the 2021 draft, while Moody was picked 14th. However, the two lottery picks have basically been bystanders against the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. Kuminga was a solid rotation player during the regular season, but his role decreased as the Warriors advanced in the postseason. Meanwhile, Moody has seen a lot of mop-up duty in lopsided games. And they’re lottery picks who would probably be starters on rebuilding teams. So what should the Sixers expect from the 23rd pick?
There is one final option for the Sixers, and that’s the draft-and-stash approach. They could opt to select Nikola Jović, a forward for the Serbian basketball team Mega Mozzart, if they keep the pick.
Jović, who turned 19 on Thursday, reportedly wants to play next season in the NBA. However, it would be interesting to see if the Sixers could convince him to remain overseas another season.
Like Williams, Liddell, Wesley, Hardy, Eason, and Beauchamp, Jović is not going to help next season in a championship push. And there’s a chance that Eason, Beauchamp, and Wesley are drafted before No. 23.
That’s why the Sixers’ best bet is shopping the pick and seeing what established player they can get.