Prediction: 56-26 record, second seed in East.
If the 76ers plan on making a deep run in the 2020 NBA playoffs, they’re going to have to augment their current roster. A shooter or shooters should be — and apparently are — at the top of general manager Elton Brand’s list.
So who should they target by the February 6 trade deadline? A report by Jon Johnson of WIP indicates the Sixers are “currently focusing on Bogdan Bogdanovic and Robert Covington as potential deadline acquisitions.”
Covington, a former Sixer, is making $11.3 million this season, with two years and $25.1 million remaining on his contract. He’s a very good wing defender, which would help, but is hitting just 34.8% of his 3-pointers.
Salary-wise, the Sixers could acquire Covington for Mike Scott ($4.8 million this season) and second-year pro Zhaire Smith ($3.1 million).
The Kings’ Bogdanovic, a third-year player, is knocking down 37.6% of his 3-pointers this season and is a pretty good all-around player. Bogdanovic is making $8.5 million on the final year of his contract and will become a restricted free agent next summer.
While the Kings like Bogdanovic and supposedly don’t plan on dealing him, they’ve already agreed to lucrative deals with Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield, and need to extend De’Aaron Fox next summer and Marvin Bagley III in 2021. And they’re not on the verge of contending, so ownership might prevent GM Vlade Divac from going into luxury-tax territory.
Scott and Smith or Scott and Furkan Korkmaz ($1.6 million), plus a draft pick or picks, would make the numbers work for Bogdanovic. While Korkmaz (39.5% on 3s this year) has been better than expected off the bench, the value of experience in the playoffs cannot be understated, The advantage to the Sixers acquiring a quality player like Bogdanovic is it’d allow them to match another team’s qualifying offer for him next summer, assuming Sixers managing partner Josh Harris would be willing to go deeper into the luxury tax to keep more talent.
Brett Brown seemingly losing faith in veteran wing James Ennis could open up a spot for somebody. Ennis only played six minutes despite starter Josh Richardson leaving with a strained hamstring four minutes into Wednesday’s 107-95 road loss to the Raptors after only logging five minutes the game before.
Bogdanovic would be a clear upgrade over Ennis.
Pelicans guard E’twaun Moore, who is in the final year of a contract at $8.7 million, would be another. He’s hitting 42.4 percent of his 3-pointers this season.
The Pistons’ Luke Kennard also fits the bill, though his propensity for being injured – he’s hurt again right now – is a concern.
If the plan is to use Richardson, the starter at shooting guard, as the backup point, upgrading at that position behind Ben Simmons isn’t essential. If Brand and Brown want somebody better than Raul Neto and Trey Burke, there are some available options. The Pistons’ Langston Galloway from St. Joseph’s is one possibility and Detroit’s Derrick Rose is another.
Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported the Sixers are among the teams to express interest in Rose, who is on the books for $7.3 million this year. Though not a very good 3-point shooter (31.3% this season), Rose is a scorer. He’s averaging 18.4 points in 26.1 minutes off the bench, and the 2010-11 league MVP could really bolster the second unit.
While he was found not guilty of a rape allegation in a 2016 civil trial, the Sixers really need to do their due diligence if they’re seriously considering a trade for Rose. And he’s more of a ball-dominant, one-on-one player on a team that generally doesn’t play that way. I’d probably go in another direction.
The Sixers, who are 29-17 and sixth in the Eastern Conference heading into Saturday night’s game against LeBron James and the Lakers, also have to decide if they’re looking for an expiring contract to help for the remainder of the season or somebody capable of contributing for years to come.
The cost could also be a factor because they don’t appear to have a lot they’re willing to trade that other teams want.
Tom Moore: email@example.com; @TomMoorePhilly