Sixers Report: LaVine lists Sixers, Lakers, Heat as trade favorites, Harden hits game-winner, Caruso updates
The Philadelphia 76ers won nine of their first 12 games and, at 9-3, finished second in the East. In terms of league-wide standings, they are tied with the reigning NBA champions, the Nikola Jokic-led Denver Nuggets, the Kyrie Irving-led Luka Doncic-led Dallas Mavericks. The Boston Celtics sit in first place overall at 10-2, after the Sixers squandered a golden opportunity to at least get a split in the season series against Boston when both Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis missed action in Philly recently but Jayson Tatum and company did. They were still able to get it done.
Even Joel Embiid had to admit that Boston is still the team to beat next:
But unlike many top-flight teams, Philadelphia believes they have one more “big step” they can still take to cement their place among the league leaders and perhaps even reach a few peaks that have yet to be scaled.
Let’s hop around the cliff and see what happens in Sixersville, shall we?
Stein throws cold water on Lavigne’s dream?
We’ll start with Mark Stein whose Substack newsletter gave a little insight into the latest Zach LaVine rumors.
LaVine’s updates began with Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reported that “the Bulls are open to trade possibilities” regarding the two-time All-Star guard.
Mark Stein quickly threw a cup of cold water on the idea that many local fans would like to see. According to the latest edition of Stein’s Substack Newsletter:
“Don’t look forward to Zach LaVine ending up with the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Sixers are supposed to be conducting due diligence investigations into LaVine’s availability, amid a growing league-wide belief that the Chicago Bulls are close to dismantling their underperforming roster, but LaVine doesn’t fit the description of what Philadelphia is looking for after trading away James Harden. ….”
Stein quotes Daryl Morey’s recent appearance in The Right To Ricky Sanchez pod, which connects the dots, when Morey described what he was targeting via trade but didn’t seem to describe a player who would fit LaVine’s skill set.
Bear Stein’s newsletter continued:
“…I would say first, they need to be very strong on both ends,” Morey, who has collected three future first-round picks and three trades to work with for his next big swing, told the podcast.
“When you get to the playoffs, it becomes very difficult for your best players to be elite in one direction,” Morey continued. “…The other thing is we probably need them to have a little bit of playmaking — kind of the connectors, the ball movement aspects. We’re lacking that a little bit and it becomes more important in the playoffs as well.”
Does LaVine or any of the Bulls’ top players fit that description? Realistically no.
There are also no solid indications circulating yet that the two-way bull who will certainly generate a lot of league-wide interest — Alex Caruso — will be available between now and the February 8 trade deadline. Caruso is in the third season of a four-year, $37 million deal.
But Shams voted back to say the Sixers already have a “level of interest,” just like the Lakers and Heat.
So perhaps it’s no coincidence that the three teams LaVine mentioned on his “list” last week have some level of interest in him. More on that to come.
Pausing briefly, it’s really interesting that we’ve heard Alex Caruso’s name come up in connection with Philadelphia from more than one insider. The former Lakers champion is hardly a three-point shooter or a half-court offense akin to LaVine, but he is an exceptional defender, something the Sixers really need, and he is a good passer who fits the “connector and ball movement” element. Mori describes.
Bear Stein continued:
“The Sixers are naturally encouraged by their 8-2 start and could choose to wait until later in the season to seriously pursue trade opportunities when specific needs become clearer. Also: Free agents signed over the summer can’t be dealt, in most cases , until after December 15. Furthermore, the recent acquisitions made by Philadelphia from the Los Angeles Clippers in the Harden trade, cannot be bundled into subsequent trades until after January 15. 1, which affects Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, and KJ Martin , and Marcus Morris Sr.
It seems more feasible that teams like Miami or the Los Angeles Lakers, rather than Philadelphia, could emerge with a significant trade interest in LaVine because those teams have a more obvious need for offensive injection.
Once again, Stein is more piecing together Morey’s words than providing actual information that the team isn’t on LaVine. In the same group, Morey admits more than once that he personally is unlikely to achieve his dream goal and may have to “make it work” with anyone who becomes available.
LaVine wants Philly, Philly?
But as we noted, LaVine might be more interested in joining the Sixers than targeting the Renton, Washington, native, who shares a skills coach with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey as full-time clients for Pure Sweat Drew Hanlen.
According to Yahoo Sport’s Jake Fisher, LaVine did something most stars don’t tend to do, which is make the Sixers’ roster a team he wants to play for.
“LaVine and his representatives maintain several preferred landing spots, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers, and each team has registered some level of interest in the Bulls guard,” Fisher reported Friday.
Oh yeah, Jimmy Butler, when he was in Minnesota looking for a trade, once named the Sixers, Lakers, Heat and Nets, a wish list very similar to LaVine’s. LaVine and Butler were traded for each other as well. Wouldn’t LaVine be destined to join Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey to help take down Jimmy Butler’s Heat, the reigning East champions and perennial tormentors of the Sixers?
This situation has been examined by Brian Toporek who also mentioned Fisher San Antonio Spurs And the Sacramento Kings are teams LaVine would be open to joining.
But Toporek makes a compelling case that Caruso is actually a better trade target (for his likely asking price) than LaVine for the Sixers anyway.
I reviewed the Sixers’ asset treasury and calculated the best “all-around” trade offer for the team.
But whether they want it to go to a one-star player or two, Morey seems much in favor of making a blockbuster trade before the February deadline.
He’s prepared to spend upwards of $50 million in the summer, but has already indicated that he and Elton Brand would rather spend the money early (trading for a player on a long-term deal, or a player on an expiring deal) The Birds’ rights could be extended after the 2024 NBA Draft by late June) instead of waiting.
Could the Sixers wait for someone like Raptors wing OG Anunoby to become available? Will three first-round picks and a young player like Jaden Springer be enough to not only entice a reluctant trader in Masai Ujiri to make a deal but also top a market that could include teams like the Knicks, who have registered serious interest in OG in the past, while also possessing a larger draft pick than Philadelphia? ?
The Grizzlies once offered the Nets four first-round picks for Mikal Bridges and they were turned down, so what’s a player like OG to do? What about Lavigne? Caruso?
Harden broke the Clips’ losing streak with a step-back three against the resurgent Rockets
Finally, the Clippers are 1-6 since trading James Harden. After losing their first five games of the new “Big Three” era (apologies to Russell Westbrook), Harden drained a triple-double to snap the Rockets’ six-game winning streak.
Byrd has been trying to become a more comfortable bomber for several years now (although he routinely claims it’s a completely new skill for him to learn, Eye rolls), but as you can see, he still prefers to trigger the bounce whenever he can:
The one thing I won’t miss is Harden making fouls that are simply uncalled for come playoff time. Apparently, he still has to pay for his past sins, and I’m relieved that’s the Clippers’ problem now.
The Sixers, on the other hand, are 7-2 since they acquired two additional first-round picks, a potentially valuable trade in 2029 with Los Angeles, as well as Robert Covington, Nicolas Batum and Marcus Morris Sr.
Speaking of Botom…please come back, Nico
Finally, I’d just like to add that Nico Batum’s absence has been a big bummer. It’s legit #good. The team is 4-0 with Batum in the lineup, and just 5-3 without him. So we wish him the best during this difficult personal journey, and hope he can get back out there soon.