The Philadelphia 76ers have been searching for a long-term solution at point guard for the past two seasons and may have found their lead guard in Dennis Schroder.
The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that the 76ers are already preparing to make Schroder a maximum-salary contract offer in 2017 when the 22-year old becomes a restricted free agent. Don’t be surprised if the Sixers and the Atlanta Hawks revisit the dialogue that the teams had prior to the trade deadline this summer.
The 76ers reportedly were really close to sending Nik Stauskas, Ish Smith, a 2016-first round selection, and another player – supposedly Jakarr Sampson, although it could also have been Isaiah Canaan, who becomes unrestricted free agent after this season, – to Atlanta for Schroeder prior to the trade deadline last Thursday. However, the Hawks ended up rejecting the offer due to concerns that Smith may walk at the end of the season as he will be an unrestricted free agent.
If Philadelphia does revisit their trade talks with Atlanta, it will be interesting to see what the deal is as the Sixers won’t be able to include Smith (unless he re-signs with the team) or Sampson. Sampson was released by the Sixers to make room on the 15-man roster for Joel Anthony, who the Sixers received, as well as a 2017 second round draft pick, for being part of the voided three-team trade that also involved Houston and Detroit. Philadelphia reportedly had every intention of re-signing Sampson after he cleared waivers, but Denver swooped in and picked him up before the Sixers got another chance. So, Philadelphia ended up losing two players and a draft pick in the nullified trade.
What Philadelphia will have to offer are draft picks and some players who can fill a role like T.J. McConnell, Carl Landry, Hollis Thompson, Richaun Holmes, Stauskas, and Jerami Grant. The Sixers may be willing to part with one of their young bigs – Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid or Dario Saric. Philadelphia will have as many as four first-round selections this upcoming draft – their own, Miami’s (top-10 protected), Los Angeles Lakers’ (top-3 protected), and Oklahoma City’s (top-15 protected).
Grant and Holmes are athletic and have potential, but both players need to improve their outside shooting and rebounding. Thompson’s shooting has come on strong lately as he has knocked down 97 triples, and he is shooting 39.7 percent from beyond the arc. Stauskas, 22, is still young and known as a shooter, but he is shooting 37.2 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from the behind the arc for his career.
Philadelphia has been playing better with Smith in the lineup, and the Sixers are 7-19 since obtaining the 6-footer from New Orleans. Noel wants the Sixers to keep Smith, but he is best suited as a reserve due to his inconsistent shooting. Also, the fact that Smith is not a threat from the perimeter at all is not in his favor.
Smith is averaging 14.5 points and 7.3 assists a game while shooting 38.7 percent from the field and 26.8 percent from beyond the arc. He has struggled since getting off to a great start with the Sixers, and he is averaging 11.6 points and 5.6 assists in the month of February.
The Sixers shouldn’t touch Noel or Okafor, and Saric brings a perimeter element that Noel and Okafor lack, so he should complement Noel and Okafor nicely. Embiid should be the one to go as he has not shown he can produce at the NBA level and is more of a defensive presence than an offensive factor, plus he is injury prone.
Atlanta may decide to go through with its rebuilding plan as that was their idea prior to the trade deadline when they made Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Schroder, and Thabo Sefolosha available for trades. Horford, Kent Bazemore, and Kirk Hinrich will be unrestricted free agents after the season.
Schroder is a smooth lead guard with a high basketball IQ, as well as having excellent vision and fantastic passing skills. He is extremely quick with the ability to blow by defenders and possesses a 6-foot-8 wingspan.
Schroder has appeared in 56 games for the Hawks this year, making six starts and averaging 21.2 minutes of playing time. He is averaging 11.2 points along with 4.7 assists and 2.9 rebounds while shooting 42.6 percent from the floor and 34.3 percent from beyond the arc. Schroeder is only attempting a little more than two free throws a game, and his assist-to-turnover ratio is just 2.17.
There are questions surrounding the youngster; such as can he play above the rim and does he have the frame to be durable enough in the NBA? There are also concerns about his perimeter shooting, as well as being turnover prone.
Schroder wants to start, which is why Atlanta was looking to deal either Teague or Schroder in the first place. Teague will become an unrealistic free agent following the 2017 season and is five years older than Schroder. Also, Schroder is eligible to sign a rookie scale extension this year.
[AP Photo by Brett Davis]