Philadelphia 76ers: Terrance Ross should have been included in the Fultz trade

(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /

While it was nice to get a first round pick for Markelle Fultz’s services, the Philadelphia 76ers really should have held out for Terrance Ross over Jonathon Simmons.

When the Philadelphia 76ers faced off against the Orlando Magic on Monday night, one face noticeably absent from the arena was Markelle Fultz.

Fultz, the player ex-general manager Bryan Colangelo traded not one but two first-round picks to acquire atop the 2017 NBA draft was instead in Los Angeles, continuing to rehab his freak rotator cuff injury likes of which has never before been seen in the NBA.

Though Fultz wasn’t the only player who found a new home in that trade. No, Jonathon Simmons was also included in the deal, and he did play for the Sixers in what would ultimately go down as an ugly 98 to 119 loss.

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However, based on the production the team received from the 6-foot-6 Houston grad, he may as well have racked up a DMP as well.

Earning his first playing time since March 12th, the Sixers’ other Simmons scored eight points on three shots (4-6 FT) while filling out his meager stat line with a pair of rebounds, zero assists, and zero steals.

All and all, not bad for 13 minutes of action, as Simmons is the least effective shooting guard in the entire league when it comes to actually scoring the basketball, but after remaining gainfully employed for the last four seasons due to his defensive prowess, the 29-year-old guard/forward hasn’t made anyone forget about Kawhi Leonard, his former teammate, and good friend.

And really, this has been a problem all season.

Since being acquired by the Sixers on February 8th, the team has a 7-5 record when Simmons plays more minutes than James Ennis, who is absent from the team’s trip to Orlando due to illness.

In games where Ennis appeared, however, the 76ers are 11-4.

Now granted, neither player is exactly making or breaking the 76ers’ playoff aspirations, as Brett Brown typically plays his starters an average of 33.8 minutes of action a night, but it’s abundantly clear that even Ennis is an upgrade over Simmons at this point.

But things could have been different.

When news initially broke that the Sixers had shipped Fultz to the Magic mere minutes before the trade deadline, fans across the globe lauded the move and assumed that Elton Brand had pulled another rabbit from his cap and acquired Terrence Ross in the deal.

And what a move that would have been.

Though he didn’t exactly shine as the Magic’s sixth man in their win over the 76ers, scoring seven points in 25 minutes of action, he still made his presence known at both ends of the court, recording a game-high +21 real plus-minus on the night.

Now in his seventh season as a pro, Ross has finally put it all together; scoring an average of 14.6 points and 3.5 rebounds a night, while setting into a slightly above career average 37.5 shooting percentage from 3 point range (on 6.8 attempts no less).

Could you imagine replacing Landry Shamet, the team’s best bench scorer pre-deadline with that? I mean, Philly would be virtually unbeatable.

Sure, Shamet put up 29 against the Washington Wizards in his 2019 coming out party and is five years younger than the Washington Huskie product, but Ross has already gone for 30 or more three times this season and scored 20 or more in 13 more games.

The 76ers’ current bench is lucky to score 30-or-more points combined at this point.

Now granted, there’s a pretty big elephant in the room that we’ve yet to address that plays a huge role why Ross isn’t a member of the Sixers right now: the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s 2020 first round pick.

A little while before the draft, news broke that the Sixers’ front office was torn on whether to trade Fultz or not at the trade deadline, with the consensus being that a first round pick was needed to get a deal done.

Had the 76ers opted to target Ross on the last year of his current 3-year, $31.5 million deal, it likely would have tipped the scales in Philly’s favor, and effectively killed the deal as it was eventually constructed.

If Ross were to be included in the deal, which may or may not have even been on the table, Brand would have all but certainly not received the Thunder’s pick and a future second-round pick to rehouse Fultz. In all actuality, if the Sixers were to have to still hold out for a first round pick, they may have had to chip in their own second round picks, and maybe even another player to make it happen.

Would Brand have still been interested in a deal if the 76ers had to ship out Justin Patton, Markelle Fultz, and two-second rounders for Terrence Ross, and a top-24 protected 2020 first round pick?

The answer to that question should be a resounding yes.

Next. Zhaire Smith needs a proper playoff audition. dark

For how much Philly now desperately needs future first round picks, especially after forfeiting a pair of picks to the Los Angeles Clippers for Tobias Harris, none of that matters if the team can’t get out of the second round of the playoffs. No, for a team like the Philadelphia 76ers who desperately needed scoring, I would wager to say a Terrence Ross in hand, even for 40 odd games, is worth more than a mid-20s pick in the bush.