Did the Sixers Do Enough at the Trade Deadline?
With both the trade deadline and buyout period passed, teams are locked into their rosters for the season. Below, I’ll outline the Sixers trade deadline acquisition of George Hill, provide information about buyout players on new teams, and speculate on the importance of the #1 seed in the East.
Despite rumors that the Sixers were gunning after Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, no deal was ultimately completed between Philadelphia and Toronto. Instead, the Sixers executed a three-team deal with the Knicks and Thunder whereby they’ll receive veteran point guard George Hill and European forward Iggy Brazdeikis in exchange for backup center Tony Bradley, reserve wing Terrance Ferguson, and two future second round picks.
Hill is expected to play reserve minutes and will likely just serve as Simmons’ backup at the point guard position. While he isn’t a player that can change a team’s fortune dramatically at this juncture of his career, the Sixers could use another veteran presence with playoff experience. Importantly, the Sixers didn’t give up any existing pieces of their core such as rookie Tyrese Maxey or defensive menace Matisse Thybulle. While Tony Bradly has been playing well recently, it is unlikely that he would have seen playoff minutes while playing behind both a healthy Joel Embiid and second-stringer Dwight Howard.
While the Sixers didn’t bolster their roster with any buyout players, two other contenders were able to add depth to their rosters on the cheap. The Los Angeles Lakers added former Clevland Cavalier Andre Drummond while the Brooklyn Nets signed former San Antonio Spur LaMarcus Aldridge. In Brooklyn, Aldridge will join fellow forward Blake Griffin who was bought out by the Pistons earlier this season. All three of these players will earn less than 1 million dollars as they play out the rest of the season hoping to score a championship ring.
In other buyout news, guards Jeff Teague and Austin Rivers were bought out by their respective teams the Orlando Magic and the Oklahoma City Thunder. They are both expected to sign with the Milwaukee Bucks. Meanwhile Gorgui Dieng was waived by the Memphis Grizzlies and will reportedly sign with the San Antonio Spurs, filling the roster slot vacated by the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge.
Quest for the #1 Seed
A look at the current Eastern Conference standings reveals that three teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. The Philadelphia 76ers have proven to be one of these teams alongside the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. Following the third slot, currently occupied by the Bucks, is a gamut of murkiness with six teams all within 2.5 games of each other.
If Philadelphia were to achieve the overall #1 seed in the East, they would avoid a scenario where they do battle with both the Bucks and Nets in consecutive rounds; a daunting challenge for any team. While I predict that the Miami Heat will round into shape as a formidable #4 seed and capable second round opponent, I don’t think they’re quite in the same tier as Brooklyn or Milwaukee this year. The Sixers are currently a half game behind the Brooklyn Nets.