By all means, the Philadelphia 76ers were one of the most productive teams before the trade deadline, managing to give the roster a facelift on the margins as they try to hold down the fort in Joel Embiid’s absence. That being said, no one would pencil them in as the biggest winner in the trade market.
That honor belongs to the New York Knicks, which managed to trade for heavily coveted trade chips in Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks who were both posting strong seasons with the struggling Pistons. Even more impressive is the fact that they didn’t have to give up a first-round pick for both of them, with Detroit settling for Quentin Grimes, second-rounders, and salary fillers.
However, it turns out that the 76ers could’ve been the ones to have both Bogdanovic and Burks had they not decided to shoot themselves in the foot.
Philadelphia was noted as one of the main bidders for Bogdanovic and Burks before talks fell apart. On a related note, Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer laid bare the details that led to the 76ers missing out on both players which the Knicks eventually snagged for themselves.
“A large portion of the Sixers’ flexibility will come from Tobias Harris’ five-year, $180 million contract coming to a close at season’s end. While it’s unclear how Philadelphia views Harris in the long term, the Sixers were not willing to trade Harris to Detroit in Philadelphia’s own talks with the Pistons that would have yielded Bogdanović and Burks with the Sixers instead of the Knicks.”
– Jake Fischer
Harris, the 76ers’ nominal third guy on the pecking order, has become one of their most important players this season. His contract come off the books this summer, but he doesn’t figure to be a long-term piece for the franchise, making an extension more unlikely, especially in light of the team’s well-documented plans to hunt another star to pair with Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.
As good as Harris has been this season, this feels like a lost opportunity for the 76ers. Bogdanovic could’ve easily assumed his role as the main scorer on the wings, and his contract offers more flexibility. After all, he could’ve been a bona fide trade chip the front office could capitalize on by picking up his club option next year. And if they strike out on their free agent targets, he would’ve been a fine alternative.
In addition, Burks is as solid of a backup scorer as you can get. The former Sixer is turning in one of his most productive seasons yet, and fills a scoring void that the team sorely lacks off the bench.
Ultimately, the Philadelphia will still have a boatload of flexibility this offseason, giving them a rare and massive shot at improving their prospects for a championship in the foreseeable future. Let’s see if they can get the job done.