The Philadelphia 76ers are currently sitting close to the top of the Eastern Conference with a 32-18 record, good enough for fourth out of 15 teams and 4.5 games behind the conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks. However, the approaching NBA trade deadline, which falls on February 7, could force the team to make some moves to bolster their bench and improve their chances of going far in the playoffs.
As explained by NJ.com‘s Joe Trinacria, the Sixers were also in need of bench players at the same time last year, and with that in mind, there could be some players in the trade market whom the team could acquire before the trade deadline or during the buyout period, which, as explained by SBNation, regularly ends on March 1. While Trinacria acknowledged that Sixers fans might prefer a flashier acquisition like Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley or New York Knicks shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., he stressed that the team’s priority has to be improving the frontcourt rotation and giving All-Star center Joel Embiid a quality backup.
In recent games, the Philadelphia 76ers had been giving playing time to rookie Jonah Bolden, a 6-foot-10 power forward from Australia who started on Saturday against the Denver Nuggets but scored just three points in 11 minutes. Taking Bolden’s inexperience into account, Trinacria wrote that the Sixers need a veteran big man who could “play important minutes” in the playoffs and capably fill in for Embiid off the bench, or when the team decides to rest him. This, he suggested, could mean trading for a center like Enes Kanter of the New York Knicks or Thon Maker of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Although Trinacria added that the Sixers could, in theory, trade for Cleveland Cavaliers veteran Kevin Love, who remains sidelined with an injury, he wrote that this might not be plausible due to Love’s “strong” desire to remain a natural power forward and the Cavs’ reluctance to trade him to another team.
While Embiid has been averaging 27.2 points, 13.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and two blocks, while playing 46 out of 50 possible games for the 76ers, the need to keep him rested remains as important as ever. As recalled by ESPN, Embiid was picked third overall in the 2014 NBA Draft but had missed his first two seasons due to a broken bone in his right foot. He had also been limited to just 31 games in his rookie season due to knee surgery.
As noted by NJ.com, both Enes Kanter and Thon Maker had made their dissatisfaction with their roles for their respective teams public in recent days, with both demanding trades in hopes of getting more minutes. And while they were not named a second time as potential trade acquisitions before the deadline, NJ.com‘s Trinacria concluded by saying the 76ers need a reliable big man more than they need an off-the-bench shooter, especially since rookie guard Landry Shamet has been playing solidly as a reserve.