Over the last couple weeks, it’s become quite clear that the Eastern Conference is even more wide open than expected. The Raptors have struggled all year, the Celtics are a .500 team right now, the Bucks have lost three games in a row, and the Nets haven’t lived up to the hype just yet. With all of these teams underperforming to this point, that leaves a lot of opportunity for the Sixers this year. While the team has had a lot of success so far, pieces will need to be added to make a deep postseason run. With the early season success, should Daryl Morey be looking to add complimentary pieces to the roster or should he be looking to swing a big trade for another star level player?

The Case for Smaller, Complimentary Moves

There’s absolutely a case to be made that the roster in general needs to stay largely the same through the trade deadline. Right now, the vibes are at an all-time high. The chemistry is so visibly great that it would be hard to tear that apart in any way. One of the biggest reasons to add complimentary pieces without giving up our young assets or picks is that one of the biggest needs is more shooting and scoring off the bench. The buyout market should theoretically provide some opportunity to pick up a shooter or two. It’s already been reported that Nemanja Bjelica is a target for the Sixers that wouldn’t cost a whole lot.

We all know the big names on the market this deadline are likely going to be Bradley Beal, Zach Lavine, Victor Oladipo, and maybe Kyle Lowry. Most of these teams don’t seem to be completely set on selling off their star players. That means that whatever teams go after these players is likely going to have to overpay. Daryl Morey has never been shy about making big trades, but are any of these players going to push us over the top when we’ll likely have to get rid of some of our bench depth to acquire them. Not to mention, the picks we have available to trade would mostly be gone for the foreseeable future if a trade for Beal and maybe even Lavine was made.

The Case for Making a Big Trade

As discussed earlier, the East is so wide open this year. It’s anyone’s guess who comes out of this conference and makes it to the NBA Finals at this point. With the Sixers dropping their last two games yet still being two games ahead of the second place Bucks, that could be seen as a signal to go all in. No team has gone on a major run and challenged the Sixers for the top seed to this point. Even during the Sixers struggles, they remain competitive against really good teams, and have most found ways to win close games this year. The limitations of the team are also pretty obvious at this point in the season. The team needs another true ball-handler and more volume shooters. What if there was a chance to get both of those in the form of one player?

Zach Lavine has had a tremendous year so far, and his stats show that his skills match up with the Sixers needs. Lavine is averaging a career high 5.3 assists per game, while hitting 43% of his threes on 8.3 attempts per game. Seth Curry, in comparison, is only attempting 4.4 threes per game. Danny Green is attempting 5.9. Adding a volume shooter who can handle the ball and score in a variety of ways would clearly make this team a lot better.

Kyle Lowry would bring toughness, defense, true point guard skills, and leadership to the team. He is also a tremendous lead ball handler while putting up 7.2 three point attempts per game. A Kyle Lowry would certainly cost less than Zach Lavine, due to Lowry’s age and expiring contract.

Overall, it’s become very clear over the last week that the Eastern Conference is anybody’s conference to take. The Sixers currently have the lead, but also have an opportunity to solidify themselves as the best team in the conference by a wide margin. Daryl Morey has stated, “I think we’re pretty championship or bust, I have to say. Doc Rivers obviously has won a title. I haven’t gotten there yet. Joel and Ben haven’t gotten there yet. You go into every season hoping to win the title. Not a lot of teams have the chance. But we absolutely have a chance, and we’re going to continue to work hard until we give ourselves the best chance possible.”

If Morey sees us as title or bust this season, he should do whatever it takes to add the missing pieces to the roster. Knowing his history in Houston, I don’t think we have to worry about Morey being shy about trades. If a big trade gives us the best chance to win a title, Morey will do it. If smaller moves to fill the holes on the roster give us the best chance to win a title, Morey will do that. I trust our President of Basketball Operations to make the smartest moves possible in order to make us the favorites to win the Eastern Conference.

Photo: Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports


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