This offseason has been an incredibly exciting, fruitful one for the Sixers thus far. After being plagued by mismanagement of talent and resources the last few years, the Sixers brought in future Hall of Fame coach Doc Rivers and 2018 NBA Executive of the Year Darryl Morey this winter, further cementing the franchise’s championship aspirations and expectations in the process.
In his introductory presser, Morey described the upstart Sixers team as “.. a stacked roster that is ready to win,” when detailing what made the front office opening so enticing. Although the Sixers’ new president of basketball operations was pleased with the roster outlook upon hiring, the savvy executive wasted little time in improving the roster.
In a matter of weeks, Morey managed to erase some of the team’s biggest issues while simultaneously making them a bigger title threat. Like a magician vanishing into thin air, Morey managed to make lackluster reserve Al Horford and his inflated contract disappear, shipping the veteran big to the Thunder for a package centered around sharpshooter Danny Green.
Always concealing a trick or two up his sleeve, Morey also traded incumbent starter Josh Richardson to the Mavericks in exchange for knockdown shooter Seth Curry.
After fetching a promising draft haul as well, Morey has almost made roster improvement look like a routine daily task. Things have gone so smoothly, in fact, that another flashy move seems like the inevitable icing on the cake as the Sixers look to sweeten their roster to combat Brooklyn and Boston.
Led by the ever-active, trade-inclined executive Daryl Morey, the Sixers have been linked to a few high-profile scorers rumored to be on the trade block. James Harden, largely due to his extensive history with Morey in Houston, has constantly had his name tied with Philly since the disgruntled star requested a divorce with Houston. The Washington duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal have also been rumored to be atop the Sixers’ wishlist at times this offseason, but the Wizards don’t seem inclined to move either of the talented guards.
An interesting, more plausible option that surfaced on the rumor mill lately is Zach LaVine. LaVine, 25, has not yet publicly been made available, but that reportedly hasn’t stopped the Sixers from inquiring on a potential deal.
Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine have been hot names around the league, according to league sources. Philadelphia has been one among many, but the Wizards and Bulls have rebuffed overtures.— Vincent Goodwill (@VinceGoodwill) November 18, 2020
With some LaVine rumors already out there today, quick note — Bulls GM Marc Eversley was a big advocate in the Sixers' draft room for Matisse Thybulle. Scouted him for at least a couple of years.— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) November 18, 2020
No indication Philly is making him available, but keep your eye on it.
As previously noted, Morey is no stranger to trades and is hungry for a championship, so his interest in the volume scorer should come as no surprise.
Additionally, LaVine would be a great fit in Philly. At 25, the human highlight reel fits the team’s current title window and can learn and grow alongside stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
His shooting ability would also make him a welcome addition in Philly. The 2x Slam Dunk contest champ shot a respectable 38% from deep last season and could likely be even more efficient if his heavy usage decreased a bit. Last year, Lavine carried the Bulls offense, recording a 31% usage-rate, 11th-highest in the league. Still, Morey has been intentional about surrounding Simmons and Embiid with shooters in his short career thus far in Philly, and LaVine would help him do just that.
Obviously, though, acquiring a player of LaVine’s caliber won’t come cheap. On the heels of back-to-back 23+ PPG campaigns, the Bulls certainly aren’t in a rush to move the talented guard and likely won’t even pick up the phone unless player and draft compensation is involved.
As Neubeck of the Philly Voice highlighted, the Sixers will likely have to part with promising wing Matisse Thybulle to pry LaVine from Chicago. Perhaps the Sixers view that as a worthy sacrifice, but I’m not sold they are too inclined to move on from Thybulle.
Further complicating matters, LaVine is due roughly $40M over the next two years, so the Sixers would have to do a juggling act to fit his contract into their already limited cap space.
As wonderful as the potential pairing would be – and don’t get me wrong, LaVine in Philly would be AWESOME – the Sixers likely don’t have enough to entice Chicago. In an offseason where seemingly everything has gone their way, this trade ideal may be the one dream they fail to bring to fruition.
Having undergone an extreme makeover of sorts in both roster and front office structure, the Sixers are still much better equipped to compete in the ever-evolving NBA landscape. Unfortunately for them, however, they will likely have to make their run at a championship without the services of LaVine.