Now that the NBA trade deadline has passed and moves have been made, what will the rest of the Sixers season look like?

Incoming reinforcements 

The most impactful trade made on Thursday was for Buddy Hield from the Pacers for Marcus Morris Sr., Furkan Korkmaz, and three second-round picks. Hield is shooting 40% from three and is exactly what the Sixers were looking to get at the deadline. Morey called him the best player traded and said his ability to create shots is super valuable next to Joel and Tyrese.  

In a surprise turn of events, the Sixers also traded for Cam Payne from the Bucks for Patrick Beverley. Payne is a good backup ball handler and scorer as showcased in his years with the Suns. He’s averaging about 6 points per game and shooting almost 40% from three in limited minutes with the Bucks this season. While the team will miss Pat Bev’s energy, Payne may be a better player to slide into the sixth-man role, especially come playoffs.

So what now? 

With Joel Embiid sidelined for at least another month, the Sixers must find ways to win. They currently sit in the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference but the hope of them staying out of the Play-In Tournament is diminishing. The Sixers, while very shorthanded, have lost 8 of their last 9 games and are 4-12 without Embiid. Waiting on the returns of other key players such as De’Anthony Melton and Nic Batum, Morey needs to be active in the buyout market to help this team not drown in losses. 

The team has three open roster spots to fill in the buyout market. Some players mentioned as potential fillers are Kyle Lowry, Spencer Dinwiddie, Danny Green, and Bismack Biyombo. The Sixers have two clear holes left that are weighing them down, another backup center and defensive specialist. Now, Melton’s eventual return will help with the defensive issue but they need a more impactful center than Mo Bamba to help Paul Reed. The hope is that Morey has made the right moves to help them win at least a few more games and put the right pieces around Embiid to have a successful playoff run.

Hope of Joel’s return

If Embiid does return this season the biggest question that remains is if he’ll have enough time to be ready for the playoffs. When healthy the starting five of Maxey, Melton, Harris, Batum, and Embiid is statistically the best 5 man lineup in the NBA. It will also be exciting to see the two-man game between him and Buddy Hield and how Nurse’s rotation will fall into place. Regardless, Embiid’s return will change the outlook on the season and give fans hope again.

Building for the future 

If this season ends up in another failure, however, Morey used the deadline to set up maximum flexibility for the offseason. Trading away players like Jaden Springer and Danuel House Jr. gave the Sixers $60 million in cap space and five first-round picks to trade. The only players under contract for next season are Embiid and Reed, which gives the Sixers plenty of available space to either trade for a star player or do a complete overhaul of the roster.

Nevertheless, a lot of questions remain with this team about where they’ll be in the playoffs by the time Embiid comes back or if he even does come back. It’s going to be tough to watch for a while as Nurse tries to figure out the team’s new identity, but it’s nothing fans haven’t been through before. All we can do now is be cautiously optimistic that this season can be saved.

Photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

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