Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Sixers take major step forward

Posted by Eric Fisher On February 6

 The 76ers didn’t look like championship contenders Tuesday night during a 119-107 loss to the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors.

A few hours later they did.

During the overnight hours, Sixers general manager Elton Brand completed a trade that brings forward Tobias Harris, center Boban Marjanovic  and forward Mike Scott to the Sixers from the Clippers. In exchange, the Sixers sent the Clippers rookie guard Landry Shamet and veteran forwards Mike Muscala and Wilson Chandler, as well as two first-round and two second-round draft picks. The first-round picks are the Sixers’ lottery-protected 2020 selection and the Heat’s unprotected 2021 pick. The second-round picks in 2021 and 2023 originally belonged to the Pistons.

The key player in the deal is Harris. He is averaging 20.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Harris is making 43.4 percent of his 3-point attempts this season after scoring 34 points, including the game-winner with 4.3 seconds remaining, during the Clippers’ 117-115 comeback victory over the Hornets on Tuesday.

That was quite a Los Angeles farewell for Harris, who is expected to join Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick in the Sixers’ starting lineup. Although we need to see how all of the pieces blend together, it certainly appears that the Sixers have the best starting lineup in the Eastern Conference.

Their bench, although still not good enough to instill confidence, gets better with the 7-foot-3 Marjanovic backing up Embiid. Scott could also contribute.

Then again, the Sixers might not be done making moves. Brand picked up guard Malachi Richardson from the Raptors. Richardson, a first-round pick in 2016, was averaging 20.9 points with Raptors’ G-League affiliate. Sixers also receive 2022 second-round pick and the draft rights to Emir Preldzic in exchange for cash considerations. And, as this story is being written there are still nearly 24 hours to go until the NBA trade deadline (Thursday, 3 p.m.).

The Sixers could still be in the market for a guard or a wing player who can come off the bench and score. Wes Matthews, acquired by the Knicks in the deal that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks, is a potential target. The Sixers could trade for Matthews or try to sign him if the Knicks buy out his contract.

The Sixers are taking a bit of a risk with this trade. Harris, Marjanovic and Scott will all become unrestricted free agents after this season. Butler and Redick also could be unrestricted free agents after this season. It may be difficult to re-sign both Butler and Harris, so this season may be the Sixers’ only shot at a title with this loaded starting lineup.

The only other downside to this trade is the Sixers are sending away Shamet, who has been a pleasant surprise after being selected 26th in the 2018 NBA Draft, and a pair of first-round picks. But you have to give something up to get something good, and it’s obvious that the Sixers were willing to give up future assets in return for immediate improvement.

Brand has drastically changed the Sixers’ roster this season. Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Shamet, Muscala and Chandler were traded away. Butler, Harris, Marjanovic and Scott have been added to the lineup.

The Sixers certainly appear closer to a championship than they were at the start of the season.

In fact, they look a lot closer to a championship than they did Tuesday night before most Sixers fans went to bed.


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