Philadelphia 76ers: Does trading for Eric Gordon still make sense?

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

For quite some time, it looked like the two biggest additions of the Philadelphia 76ers‘ offseason were going to be P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon.

‘Hahaha Houston Rockets East, hahaha is Moses Malone gonna come out of retirement?’

Save it: Daryl Morey actually has a blueprint from which he is building the team and that’s more than many a front office, past or present, can say across the NBA.

After having to suffer through two seasons of disparate-fitting rosters, marginally improving with each passing year, 12 of the 18 players coming into camp with the Sixers were signed/drafted/traded for by Morey, and that’s a very good thing.

And yet, despite having 16 one-way players under contract coming into camp, including 15 who have some guaranteed money, the Sixers remain linked to one guard in particular (who isn’t named Kyrie Irving): Eric Gordon.

That’s right, despite adding a very similar player in De’Anthony Melton, who just so happens to be nine years his junior, Morey has reportedly remained interested in bringing back another member of his late 2010s Houston Rockets and has continued to pursue avenues to get a deal done.

But should he? After all the moves the Philadelphia 76ers made this offseason, do they really need to cash in some assets on another 6-foot-3 ball-handler who is really good but potentially redundant to the players they already have? Let’s ponder that question for a moment.

Do the Philadelphia 76ers still need Eric Gordon?

As things presently stand, the biggest obstacle between Eric Gordon and the Philadelphia 76ers is the price, monetary not draft value. While the Sixers don’t have a first-round pick they can trade until 2029, which probably isn’t what the rapidly rebuilding Rockets really require, they could easily flip Matisse Thybulle to another team for a first and route that down to Houston if they really want to.

Is that the best course of action? Probably not, but more on that later.

No, the real problem is that the Sixers would need to match Gordon’s salary minus $5 million to execute a legal NBA trade (read about that here), which, considering his contract is worth $19.56 million, is a pretty difficult sell.

Unless the Sixers can entice the Rockets to take on Tobias Harris, which has proven a tough ask, as theoretically every team in the NBA has known he’s available and none have sought out a deal for his service, the only realistic way to trade for Gordon would be to package Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, Georges Niang, and Shake Milton together to form $14,842,245 in matching salary – which, plus $5 million is technically enough to make a legal trade. While the Rockets probably don’t need a player like Thybulle after extending Jae’Sean Tate, many other teams across the NBA do, and would probably pay up a first-round pick – the asking price Houston holds for EG – for his services.

Is Gordon better than any of those players individually? Yeah, probably so. Could the Sixers overcome losing those four players to bring back Gordon? Sure, between Trevelin Queen, Michael Foster Jr., and another free agent like Justin Anderson, that can work.

But should they? In my humble opinion, the answer is no.

Yes, I understand the allure of adding Gordon, I really do. I’ll even put aside my preference for targeting a 6-foot-7 wing who can start at small forward. But the main reasons I would not do the deal are as follows, 1. Gordon will in all likelihood still be available in February and 2. I want to see one final run of Thybulle in a Sixers uniform.

I know, I know, call me a glutton for punishment, but Thybulle is a truly elite defensive player who does not get the credit he’s owed. As Keith Pompey pointed out, this is his first “normal” summer as an NBA player, as COVID hit in 2020 and he played in the Olympics in 2021, so maybe, just maybe a few months off to work on his offensive game could bring back a player who at least has to be covered a little bit on defense instead of being completely ignored like Thybulle was from 2019-22. If it doesn’t work then fine, trade Thybulle, maybe for EG, maybe for some other player who becomes available for one reason or another as the season inches along but the idea of cashing out on Thybulle now before seeing what he can do, especially for a player who is quite literally at the tail end of his prime, feels a bit premature, especially if the Washington product actually develops a 34 percent 3 point shot.

Next. 3 deals to send Matisse Thybulle to the Dallas Mavericks. dark

Will Eric Gordon ultimately end up in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform? Will the stars align and the native son of Indiana finally call the Keystone State home? Or will he instead finish out his career in Houston or maybe even Phoenix, who have casually been linked to the big scoring sixth man too? Only time will tell, but unless there’s a post-Fourth of July rush on 6-foot-3, smooth-shooting combo guards, it might be wise to wait until the trade deadline to get serious about a deal, especially since Daryl Morey will have a better idea of what he has and what he needs heading into the playoffs.