The 76ers are trying to get things in place ahead of the June 23 NBA draft and free agency.
Multiple league sources have said the team is assessing team interest in Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton, in addition to potential trade partners for Danny Green and the No. 23 pick.
The Sixers are trying to assess the market to see what they can get for players and the draft pick, a source said. This approach is part of their effort to compile information and see what offers might work when it’s time to make a transaction.
The Sixers realize their current roster isn’t suited to winning an NBA championship. They are determined to improve it with established players who can help boost them.
Harris, Thybulle, Milton, Korkmaz, Green and the draft pick are the best trades available, with the team focused on retaining Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. James Harden, whose stock has fallen, has said in the past that he intends to recoup his $47.3 million option for next season.
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Harris has two years and $76.9 million left on the five-year, $180 million contract he signed on July 10, 2019.
The Sixers have publicly stated that they will bring back their core players, including Harris. However, privately the team are again trying to see what the market is for their fourth top scorer behind Embiid, Harden and Maxey.
The Sixers have unsuccessfully attempted to trade Harris in the past, as he was included in a package with Ben Simmons in some instances before the February trade deadline. The Sixers eventually sent Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks with Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets for Harden and Paul Millsap.
The Sixers would like to acquire a third star to play alongside perennial All-Stars Embiid and Harden. A trade would also allow Harris to become more involved in a team’s game plan. He’s been the third or fourth option throughout his tenure with the Sixers.
Harris’ contract is the best way to facilitate the type of move that would bring another player to maximum salary on a Sixers team that’s over the salary cap. But the Sixers will have to find a team willing to take over his salary. The Sixers may also need to include assets, perhaps through a third team, to entice a team with an available salary cap to accept Harris’ deal.
Thybulle was deemed untouchable ahead of last season’s trade deadline. The Sixers’ refusal to trade him was a minor heist in the trade with the Nets for Harden.
However, Thybulle, entering his fourth year, is a two-time second-team All-Defensive selection but hasn’t progressed offensively at the pace the Sixers want. During the playoffs, Thybulle was sometimes left wide open for a shot while his defender wandered off or teamed up with another player. He also missed a lot of time in the Sixers’ first-round series against the Raptors because he’s unvaccinated.
READ MORE: The Sixers didn’t handle their third star well. Tobias Harris is the latest example.
But this offseason marks the first in which Thybulle can focus on improving his attacking game. He was unable to do so during the pandemic lockdown after his rookie season. Then he spent last summer with the Australian men’s basketball team, winning a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
However, team president Daryl Morey is said to be a fan of Thybulle, who is heading into the final year of his rookie contract. Thybulle also works with the Arizona Sixers’ skill development coaches. He will be eligible for a five-year, $186 million extension this summer. Although he is unlikely to get this extension, his status in the team deserves special attention.
The Sixers have a $1.9 million club option on Milton for next season. And it was reported Wednesday by HoopsHype.com that the Sixers would indeed choose that option. Before that, there was a belief in the league that the Sixers wouldn’t choose Milton’s option.
It would make sense to bring Milton back so the Sixers can wrap him in a trade after the draft ends and head to free agency. If they don’t choose that option, they’d have to trade him by July 1, meaning their bargaining power would be close to nil, because why would a team trade a player who could be picked up as a unrestricted free agent on July 1. ?
Milton and Georges Niang were the Sixers’ top reserves last season. But Milton is not a pure leader. He thrives as a ball-dominating goalie, and the Sixers already have ball handlers in Harden and Maxey. As a result, Milton might not be a strong candidate moving forward, even though he was their most effective player in the Game 6 loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference playoff series that ended their season.
Milton and Korkmaz had their minutes reduced after the Sixers acquired Harden at the February trade deadline.
Korkmaz heads into the final two years of his contract after having the worst three-point shooting season (28.9%) of his career.
READ MORE: Will the Sixers trade their first draft pick? In any scenario, they almost have to.
Sources said the Indiana Pacers were one of the teams that inquired about Korkmaz before last season’s trade deadline. The belief at the time was that a change of scenery could help the four-year-old winger relaunch his career.
Now, sources say he is among the group of players the Sixers are throwing feelers at to test the market.