Philadelphia 76ers: To trade or not to trade Danny Green

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers are in a pretty precarious spot heading into the 2022 NBA trade deadline.

On one hand, the team has one of the most sought-after players in the entire association in Ben Simmons, who could fetch a franchise-altering return if he is moved before February 10th, but outside of the 6-foot-10 elephant in the room, the prospects of team building become far less certain.

You see, the Sixers are a team with holes. They could really use a large two-way wing, a veteran passer who could play with or in place of Tyrese Maxey in a playoff rotation, and ideally players who can either shoot 3s or bring in rebounds.

Are those player types varying degrees of attainable? Yes. While the big wing might be the hardest to land, there are veteran guards all over the league and shooters on expiring deals who could surely be had for the right price.

The only problem? The Sixers really don’t have a lot of contracts they can move to match salaries, even for a mid-level exception-priced player. Outside of their big three, Seth Curry, and Danny Green, every player on the team makes less than $5 million, which means the team would either have to execute a three-for-one trade to get a guy in the $6-10 million range or would have to trade a starter to get a deal done.

Assuming Ben Simmons is held onto for a bigger deal, Tobias Harris sticks around, and Seth Curry and Joel Embiid are off the table, that just leaves Danny Green as the lone option to land another starting-level player to further fortify the Philadelphia 76ers’ depth chart. But should Daryl Morey do it? That, my friends, is the question.

Danny Green would be a tough player for the Philadelphia 76ers to replace.

After an early summer of speculation and being linked to pretty much every contender across the NBA, Danny Green opted to re-sign with the Philadelphia 76ers on a two-year, $20 million deal.

At the time, the deal was viewed as a win, even if the rest of the team’s free agency moves left a bit to be desired, but hey, whatcha gonna do? George Hill’s contract was still on the books, as was the $8.2 million Al Horford exception, and the Sixers’ optionally was still ample.

Now? Not so much.

First, the team released Hill just before the entire value of his contract became due. While this wasn’t as popular a move as retaining Green, as Hill’s contract clocked in at a very tradeable $10 million, the team had one more player than roster spot, and after the 2021 playoffs, the once and future Milwaukee Buck looked like a prime target to be moved.

Then came the most controversial move of the preseason: Allowing the Horford Exception to expire. Again, the team has a fully stocked roster and outside of signing Charles Bassey to a two-way contract, there wasn’t an obvious way to keep all 17 guys the team liked but again, securing a player in that dollar figure, even if he wasn’t some elite rotational option, could have come in handy in the trade market.

So, after squandering those two options, what are the Sixers left with? Danny Green.

Could the Sixers swoop in and secure a minor upgrade by just trading, say, Shake Milton and Paul Reed? Yes, but that duo can only get you back a deal in the $2-4 million range, which is good for a player like Mike Muscala but isn’t going to make a massive difference.

Sidebar: Here is a list of every point guard in the NBA and their respective contracts. Who could the team realistically land for Milton, Reed, and a second round pick? Trey Burke? Frank Jackson? Austin Rivers? Not an ideal group.

So, with that exposition out of the way, what kind of player could the 76ers expect to get back in a deal for Green? Unsurprisingly, the deal is far more impressive.

Keeping things on point guard, Green alone could financially swing a deal for players like Kemba Walker, Tyus Jones, and Reggie Jackson. If Morey were to aggregate Green’s contract with that of Milton, Reed, Jaden Springer, Andre Drummond, and/or even Georges Niang, the team could get into punching range to acquire a player like Patrick Beverly, Eric Bledsoe, or even Ricky Rubio, who would be a godsend passer paired up with Embiid.

Expanding things outside of the point guard world, $9-17 million is enough to secure wing players like Kelly Oubre, Lauri Markkanen, and even our old pal Robert Covington, with additional secondary passes on the table to even out a deal. Would having any of those players make the Sixers better? Potentially so, but are there any big enough upgrades to justify moving off of Green, who himself is a very talented player who is very popular in the locker room and a pivotal on-court contributor?

If the Sixers ventured to replace Green, they’d need to find a plus defender with an eye for steals and a plus-40 catch-and-shoot percentage from beyond the arc. Do those players exist? Sure, but for the most part, teams like to hold onto them.

So, just for the sake of argument, let’s say the Sixers were to trade Green for a point guard, how would they replace him without a corresponding Ben Simmons deal? Well, the obvious turn would be to permanently start Matisse Thybulle at the three, which hasn’t been particularly effective this season outside of a few bright spots (See Warriors, Golden State). Then there’s Furkan Korkmaz, who has shot it in a different time zone, Georges Niang, who is really more of a four than a three, and Isaiah Joe, who hardly plays now and would go down as one of the lightest small forwards in NBA history.

If the ultimate goal of a “mid” deal is to get Embiid the ball in the paint with a plus passer then going even smaller at small forward with less shooting is a risk worth taking, you don’t see many title contenders who go small forward by committee.

And what if instead, the Sixers opted to trade Green for a player like Covington, who is similar but just a bit taller? Such a deal could benefit Philly, as they are currently the worst rebounding team in the nation and play a very small starting lineup, but to truly upgrade the position in a substantive way, Morey would have to dig into his tradeable assets, which would then make acquiring a star in a deal for Simmons all the more challenging.

Unless Philly really likes, say, Markkanen and views him as the missing piece in fielding a competitive rotation with $30-plus million off the court – *spoiler alert*, he isn’t – such a deal feels rather unrealistic too.

Next. Play Matisse Thybulle and Danny Green together, Philadelphia 76ers. dark

So what are the takeaways from all of this information? Well, for one, the Philadelphia 76ers have blown a number of interesting options to further fortify their team this season. From George Hill’s contract to the Al Horford Exception, the Sixers have blown a number of chances to add money to their books that they could move later. Another would be that there aren’t very many options to upgrade the team right now, as it would either take a starter, a rotation player, a young player, or a combination of all three to add the sort of veteran contributor Philly desires. And last but not least, after a summer of tough love, Danny Green has become an incredibly valuable player that shouldn’t be moved unless the deal is very good. *Sigh* I guess there’s always the buyout market.