Philadelphia 76ers: It’s (basically) impossible to trade for Jordan Clarkson

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

While the addition of Jordan Clarkson could supercharge the Philadelphia 76ers’ bench, it’s almost impossible to make a deal work financially.

Jordan Clarkson is a walking bucket.

D’Angelo Russell‘s one-time Los Angeles Lakers backcourt partner who has since gone on to forge his own path with the post-LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers, the 27-year-old sixth man should be among the most targeted players at the 2020 trade deadline.

And why wouldn’t he be? Since entering the league as a second-rounder in 2014, Clarkson has averaged double-digit points each and every season. He’s also shown an ability to score from 3 point range, even if his 33.6 shooting percentage is a tad below the league average.

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If he can find a way to sure things up on the defensive end of the court, Clarkson could be among the best all-around combo guard sixth men in the league.

However, barring something absolutely insane, Clarkson isn’t going to be a member of the Philadelphia 76ers this season – at least via trade.

If Twitter isn’t your thing, you may not have noticed that the Sixers fanbase broke into a bit of a tizzy when a (seemingly) throwaway line in a column by SI Cavaliers reporter Sam Amico suggested that Philly has shown interest in Clarkson.

Now on the surface, any interest from Elton Brand and company makes sense, as the team is pretty much a sixth man away from perfection. With Clarkson in the fray, the Sixers’ second unit instantly upgrades, Brett Brown‘s rotation adds another shooter, and the fans finally, finally get another scoring ball-handler who can pair up with Ben Simmons or thrive without him.

But again, never going to happen. Why? The salary cap.

You see, unlike a hard-capped league like the NFL, the NBA operates under a soft cap where teams can pay above the line in certain situations – mostly to re-sign their own players. The NBA also has a rule that requires any trade to match salary-wise if a team is above the cap within 125 percent plus $100,000 (read it all here).

After signing Al Horford and Tobias Harris to big-money deals, absorbing Josh Richardson‘s contract via trade, and the extension of Mike Scott, the 76ers are definitively above the cap. With Clarkson set to make $13.7 million in 2019-20, that means any trade has to include at least $10.37 million worth of compensation to the Cavs, give or take.

That’s going to be a hard number to hit.

Assuming that the usual suspects (the starting five plus Matisse Thybulle) are untouchable, that leaves the Sixers with a little less than $20 million in contracts to work with over the nine remaining players on their roster. So, assuming the Sixers do, in fact, have their hearts set on adding Clarkson into the fray, the team would have to unload not one, not two, not three, not even four, but a minimum of five players to get a deal done – not to mention draft compensation.

Again, Clarkson is a great scorer and would instantly become the team’s best sixth man since Lou Williams at the precipice of the century, but is he worth Zhaire Smith, Jonah Bolden, Trey Burke, Raul Neto, and *gasp* Mike Scott?


Even if some deal were to happen, how on earth would the team even fill out their roster? Sure, you could convert the contract of Marial Shayok and Norvel Pelle, but would the Sixers have to then rifle through the G-League for competent players to fill out the bench? Could this open the door for the return of Jamal Crawford, think Clarkson but a decade older?

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No matter how much the addition of Jordan Clarkson could help the Philadelphia 76ers on the back half of the season, and again he would be a major help, it’s virtually impossible to bring him to town via trade. Now if he were to get bought out then yeah, now we’re talking, but as far as trades go, it’s never going to happen. Bummer.