Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Hart could return to Philly as an LA salary dump

(Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images) /

After unceremoniously trading away Mikal Bridges, the Philadelphia 76ers could add his former teammate Josh Hart as a salary dump from the Lakers.

Don’t look now Philadelphia 76ers fans, but your favorite team could very well still end up with a former Villanova Wildcats guard on their roster.

After being the apple of many fans eyes through the pre-draft process, Josh Hart look like the perfect second round pick to add to the Sixers’ roster, with many assuming the team traded up to select him when they surprisingly picked Latvian center Anžejs Pasečņiks 25 overall, but unfortunately, the union was not meant to be.

That’s right, in another move that few expected, the Los Angeles Lakers actually traded back into the first round after selecting Kyle Kuzma 27th overall and snatch Hart out from Philly’s hands with the 30th overall pick, effectively ending any chance of keeping the Wildcats great in the City of Brotherly Love.

Or did they?

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At this point, it’s basically common knowledge that the Lakers are trying to build a super team a la the 2010 Miami Heat and to do so, they’ll need to dump some serious salary cap, as well as a treasure trove of assets to make that happen. According to ESPN’s Front Office Insider Bobby Marks, if the team were to secure a Kawhi Leonard trade, and add LeBron James and Paul George in free agency they would effectively have to remove almost all of their current cap holdings and quite a few future draft picks to make the move work, with one of those lesser pieces being Hart.

LA’s loss could once again be Philly’s gain.

Though he’s far from a finished product, Hart’s the kind of player Philly wants on their roster both now and moving forward, as highlighted by the players they selected with their final two picks in the 2018 NBA Draft, Landry Shamet and Shake Milton. Standing 6-foot-5, 209 pounds, Hart has the prototypical size of a modern NBA shooting guard, and while he wasn’t asked to handle the ball much while playing alongside capable points like Ryan Arcidiacono and Jalen Brunson under the watchful eye of Jay Wright, he effective established himself as one of the best 3-and-D guards in his draft class, averaging 18.7 points a night while knocking down 40 percent of his 3-point shots in the process.

Numbers that, for the most part, have translated into the pros.

While he’s no longer being asked to play 33 minutes a night, Hart has remained impressive in limited action with the Lakers, averaging 7.9 points per game while making 47 of his shots from the field and 39.6 from 3 point range, very impressive shooting percentages for a rookie player. Chalk it up to his age, but most rookies struggle to translate superb 3-point shooting into the pros, a roadblock that Hart seems to have bypassed with ease.

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And the best part? Philly probably won’t have to give up too much to bring Hart home.

Baring his inclusion in a trade to the San Antonio Spurs, a move that right now seems fairly unlikely after drafting Lonnie Walker IV 18th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft, Hart’s two-year, $3 million fully guaranteed contract likely becomes incredibly expendable should the team go all in on purging their roster to attempt a star-studded facelift, a move that could easily backfire.

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So, for the low, low price of a pair of future second-round picks, one in 2019 and one down the road in, say, 2021, Brett Brown could potentially add a local fan favorite with the upside to eventually replaced J.J. Redick in the team’s starting five. Now that’s what I call value.