Latest Blockbuster Lands More Star Power, Veteran Depth
Before the 2018-19 season began, the 76ers made their mission clear, and were unified in embracing it - the intent was to earn a spot in the NBA Finals.
That goal, which midway through the year remains ongoing, now sounds more realistic than ever.
Representing a move that will bring even more All-League caliber talent to the roster, while simultaneously adding depth to the bench, the Sixers on Wednesday acquired from the LA Clippers versatile veteran Tobias Harris, along with seasoned pros Boban Marjanović and Mike Scott.
The trade marks the latest bold front office stroke from Elton Brand, who in less than five months as Sixers’ general manager has managed to pull off two of the biggest blockbuster deals of the NBA season - first, the November swap that landed Jimmy Butler, then this.
“We want to win, we want to win big,” Brand said in a press conference with reporters a few weeks back. “I don’t want to let the city and the fans down.”
As strong as those words rang at the time, the actions of Brand and a front office team consisting of Alex Rucker (Vice President, Basketball Operations); Ned Cohen (Assistant General Manager); and Marc Eversley (Senior Vice President, Player Personnel) spoke louder.
In Harris, the Sixers are no doubt acquiring another top-of-class performer in his prime. Having manufactured career highs of 20.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 55 games with the Clippers this season, the 26-year old in recent weeks flirted with his first All-Star selection.
He is currently one of two players in the entire league - Oklahoma City’s Paul George being the other - to produce these splits, while also shooting at least 40.0 percent from the 3-point territory with a minimum of 100 triples.
Not only is Harris’ 43.4 3-point percentage a career high, he’s on pace to surpass 150 threes for a second consecutive campaign. The Long Island native has already posted 11 double-doubles, one shy of equaling his highest total to-date, from 2015-16.
Given his diverse skill set at 6-foot-9, 235 pounds, Harris is projected to slide nicely into the Sixers’ starting four spot. His presence figures to bolster a super-efficient top unit featuring the All-Star trio of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Jimmy Butler, plus preeminent marksman JJ Redick.
“When you fast forward and say what wins in the playoffs, it’s men, it’s can you switch [on defense], and can you make a three,” Brett Brown said recently.
Harris, the headliner in Wednesday’s transaction, certainly fits that description.
For as much as Harris has been increasingly associated with a budding, multi-faceted game, he also has been closely linked to the lovable, hulking Marjanović. Teammates for portions of the past three seasons, the two have formed a viral friendship, and were both parts of a trade last January involving the Clippers and Detroit Pistons.
While the 7-foot-3, 290-pound Marjanović has gained renown for his massive frame and endearingly self-deprecating personality, he’s proven to be an effective big man over the course of his four-year NBA career, too.
So far, like Harris, the 30-year old Serbian is enjoying his most productive season yet. His 10.7 minutes, 6.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 60.7 field goal percentages are all career highs.
Mike Scott, meanwhile, had been logging 14.4 minutes in 52 games off the bench for LA. In six seasons since being drafted 43rd overall in 2012, he’s averaged 7.1 points and 3.1 rebounds.
Similarly to Harris, Scott is well-rounded, has a perimeter game, and can be counted on to switch defensively.
“If there are pieces that we [see] are long term, we may add some of those,” Brand said.
With the Clippers as his trade partner, the right opportunity ultimately materialized.
Every trade, of course, comes with a corresponding cost. For the Sixers, Wednesday’s deal saw the departures of valued contributors and model locker room citizens Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, and Mike Muscala, along with four future draft picks.
Shamet went from the 26th overall pick in the 2018 draft to a consistent bench performer and occasional starter. The Wichita State product’s 99 3-pointers rank third all-time for a Sixer rookie.
Chandler, in his 10th season in the NBA, was obtained from the Denver Nuggets in a summer trade. When healthy, he was a dependable starter at the four position.
Muscala joined the Sixers via an off-season exchange with the Atlanta Hawks. He averaged 7.4 points and a career-high 4.3 rebounds per game.
The Sixers will also be sending to LA their own first-round pick in 2020, protected nos. 1-14 from 2020 through 2022; the Miami Heat’s unprotected first-round pick in 2021; and a pair of second-round picks via Detroit (2021, 2023).
Should the Sixers’ 2020 pick not convey to the Clippers in either 2020, 2021, or 2022, it will convert into two second-round picks - one in 2023, and another in 2024.
Sixers.com's Lauren Rosen contributed to this article.