No, Domantas Sabonis doesn’t fit with the Philadelphia 76ers

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

In a few short hours- as of the time of publishing – the NBA’s December 15th moratorium on trading players signed in free agency will end, and some 100 more players will be eligible to be moved.

For a team like the Philadelphia 76ers, who have a very notable name on the trade block, this day has surely been circled on Daryl Morey’s calendar for a long time, as it could unlock a number of intriguing options across the association.

Could the Sixers parlay the assets from one team to secure a star from another? Or how about landing an ascending young forward from one team and a veteran floor general from another?

The options aren’t quite limitless, but they are a whole lot more expansive than a few days prior.

But as things presently stand, are there any All-Stars on the market? The 76ers really want an All-Star-caliber player, and anything less would surely be considered a failure from an external perspective.

Well, while this is totally subject to change, I have good news for you: There is one All-Star player who is definitely on the block other than Ben Simmons. The bad news? He really doesn’t fit with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Philadelphia 76ers would have a tough time finding space for Domantas Sabonis.

Domantas Sabonis is a really good modern day NBA bigman.

Sure, he may not be the biggest, fastest, or strongest player in the NBA, but he’s a savvy playmaker, a fantastic dribble handoff specialist, and a developing 3 point shooter, even if his percentage over the past few years leaves a bit to be desired.

If you want a player ideally suited to run a four-out offense surrounded by shooters, Sabonis is your guy. How about an incredibly efficient scorer from the restricted area in, where he banks an average of 69 percent of his nine shots per game? Heck, Sabonis has even developed into a solid defender, as his 28th ranked defensive RAPTOR shows.

All in all, some team, maybe the Portland Trail Blazers, maybe the Boston Celtics, will really love having Sabonis on their roster, but that team really shouldn’t be the Philadelphia 76ers, as it would bring major Al Horford vibes to a team with notable on-court holes.

First, the good; if magically transported onto the Sixers’ roster, Sabonis would be the team’s top rebounder and third-best assister, even if the exact role he’d be tasked with playing in South Philly could significantly impact those numbers.

Could the Sixers desperately use rebounding? Yes. They rank 25th in defensive rebounding and dead last in both offensive rebounding and total rebounding at this point in the season. How about assists? Again, yes. Even if Sabonis isn’t a Chris Paul-level passer, he’d be a fantastic partner in crime for Tyrese Maxey both as a secondary playmaker and as a pick-and-roll partner.

The problem? Sabonis and Joel Embiid would fit together only slightly better than he does with Myles Turner, and that duo has been headed for a breakup for years now due to their off on-court fit.

Now sure, could Sabonis stand at the top of the key and Embiid rock in the paint? Sure, but that’s just a worse version of the Ben Simmons-Embiid two-man game, as Sabonis isn’t going to breeze past defenders via a pick-and-roll offense or otherwise to drive into the paint for a layup. Even if he does attempt a few 3s per game, which is a few more than Simmons, his presence at the top of the key would allow opposing defenders to sag into the paint and give Embiid fits.

Or how about the other way around? Embiid is a good shooter and could space the court for Sabonis if he spends most of his time in the dunker spot. Again, that’s more Simmons-Embiid retreading and limits the offensive versatility of one of the best players in the NBA.

Even if Sabonis got his 3 point shooting up to 40 percent, which feels unlikely but isn’t impossible, it’s hard to see a world where he fits with Embiid for even half of their respective on-court time, which would require Doc Rivers to stagger the duo as often as possible.

Even if players like Caris LeVert and T.J. Warren were also included in a deal alongside Sabonis, both of whom Bleacher Report’s Jack Fischer has suggested are available, that questionable fit will remain an issue no matter what other pieces are moved around.

Considering this trade is the best chance to optimize Embiid’s prime, I’d venture to say fit matters more than pure talent acquisition.

Next. Which players are truly untouchable via trade?. dark

Could the Philadelphia 76ers pursue a power forward in a Ben Simmons trade? Sure. Players like Marvin Bagley, Lauri Markkanen, and John Collins would all look nice on the court with Joel Embiid and could be staggered to optimize second units built around Tyrese Maxey’s run-and-gun style of play, but Domantas Sabonis specifically isn’t an ideal on-court companion for the team’s top talent, which makes a two-team trade with the Indiana Pacers effectively dead on arrival.