Philadelphia 76ers: Keep an eye on Brad Wanamaker

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

If the Boston Celtics opt to re-sign Isaiah Thomas after three-seasons apart, keep an eye on Brad Wanamaker as an intriguing buyout addition for the Philadelphia 76ers.

With the trade deadline officially passed, the eyes of NBA teams like the Philadelphia 76ers who would still like to bolster their roster in the lead up to a potential playoff run now turn to the buyout market for their final chance to add one final piece.

And since teams don’t have to give up anything but a roster spot to acquire these veteran players finally freed from the grasps of a losing team, it can feel like the wild, wild, west.

But just because 3-and-D combo forward Marvin Williams has already linked up with the Milwaukee Bucks to fortify that team even more, and his teammate, and Philly native, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist appears destined to eventually suit up alongside Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porziņģis in Dallas, doesn’t mean the 76ers couldn’t get in on the action down the road.

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There is actually a situation brewing that could turn out quite nicely for the Sixers if it breaks the right way.

You see, at the deadline, the Los Angeles Clippers traded their pick, ex-Sixer Moe Harkless to the New York Knicks for the Eagles-loving Morris twin. But for whatever reason, the deal expanded to three, with Jerome Robinson, the 13th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, heading to our nation’s capital in exchange for 5-foot-9 point guard Isaiah Thomas.

Hopefully, Thomas didn’t already rent out a condo, as his tenure with LA’s other franchise lasted what, 48 hours?

After bouncing around the league since a lingering hip injury derailed a borderline league MVP-caliber tenure with the Boston Celtics, Thomas has bounced around the league since being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers – playing for five teams in four years, with a sixth potentially on the way before the season’s end. While it would have been nice to see Thomas return to the playoffs after a bounce-back half-season with the Washington Wizards, that, unfortunately, will not happen in Los Angeles.

But hey, don’t feel too bad for Thomas, because his NBA journey may be approaching a storybook ending.

As it turns out, the Celtics failed to make a move at the deadline, and after news broke that Tristan Thompson would not pursue a buyout despite his team acquiring Andre Drummond at the deadline, the team is running out of options to make their roster better. As crazy as it may sound, the Celtics are starting to be linked with Thomas once again and could reunite with the ninth-year veteran after three seasons apart.

Okay cool, but what does this have to do with the Philadelphia 76ers? I’m glad you asked.

Well, just like how Elton Brand had to release Trey Burke and Jonah Bolden, and trade James Ennis to make room for the additions of Alec Burks, Norvel Pelle, and Glenn Robinson III, Danny Ainge would have to waive a player, probably a point guard, to make room for Thomas.

After signing a four-year, $140 million deal in June, Kemba Walker certainly isn’t going anywhere. Same goes for Sixers-draftee Carsen Edwards, who signed his own four-year, $6.4 million deal after going 33rd in the draft. That just leaves Brad Wanamaker, a 6-foot-3 second-year guard out of Pitt.

A native son of our fair city who played his high school ball at Roman Catholic, Wanamaker spent the first near-decade of his professional basketball career playing in Europe, before signing a one-year deal with the Celtics on the eve of the 2018-19 season. Initially slotted in as a deep bench reserve behind Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier, Wanamaker appeared in 36 games for the Celtics as a 29-year-old rookie, where he averaged 3.9 points in 9.5 minutes on 41 percent shooting from 3 (on 1.1 attempts).

Not amazing numbers, but good enough to earn a second looking with the Celts on a one-year, $838,464 deal.

Now slotted in as the clear number two behind Walker, Wanamaker’s stats have virtually doubled across the board, now averaging 6.6 points in 18.7 minutes of action, in addition to 2.6 assists and .7 steals a game.

Again, not elite, but solid.

While conventional wisdom would suggest the 76ers aren’t in the market for another reserve point guard, as they clearly value the position so highly that they waived their most dynamic bench scorer, Trey Burke, to make room for his 6-foot-6 name brother Alec Burks, Wanamaker’s height, experience playing with Al Horford, and inside baseball knowledge of a potential playoff foe could make him an intriguing replacement for Raul Neto, or a competitor if the team instead grants Kyle O’Quinn his requested release.

And really, why not, right? If the Celtics are going to swap out a 6-foot-3 point guard for a player six inches shorter, why shouldn’t the 76ers get a little more taller-er with a potential playoff showdown very much still in play? Makes sense to me.

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Granted, this all depends on whether or not the Boston Celtics actually make things right with Isaiah Thomas and reunite with their former franchise player, as I’ll believe it when I see it, but if Brad Wanamaker somehow becomes available over the forthcoming weeks, signing the 215 native for the remainder of the season could be a nominal upgrade for the Philadelphia 76ers down the stretch, and quite possibly in the playoffs depending on the matchup.