PHILADELPHIA – In the early morning hours of Wednesday morning, the already formidable NBA trading period received yet another boost, as Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Philadelphia 76ers closed one Blockbuster deal with the LA Clippers for striker Tobias Harris off.
The full deal ̵
Here is a brief overview:
1. Philadelphia's star-laden starting position five
Adding to Harris and sacrificing none of the top four players, Philadelphia now has five starters from Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler, Harris and Joel Embiid. The only team comparable to them at this time in the league are the Golden State Warriors. After this step, Philadelphia can at least dream of entering the NBA Finals in June.
How does this deal change any team? Kevin Pelton makes the train.
Anthony Davis is a superstar, but the Lakers have reasons to end blockbuster trading.
Harris is the ideal piece to get involved alongside the other stars of Philadelphia. He's a fantastic shooter (he scored 43.4 percent of his 3-point goals this season and scores less than 50 percent overall) and can fit in with any of Philly's stars – something of great importance in the quest for the Sixers will be for a lot of depth. But Philadelphia should be able to have at least two, if not three, of these five on the ground at the same time, which can help alleviate these deep problems.
2. An Extensive Search for a Bank
Even after this step was taken for Harris, Philadelphia still stares at the blatant weakness he had before this deal: athletics from the bank. Scott will replace Muscala as a substitute for the team (where he actually fits better), while Marjanovic gives them a mesmerizing look at taller men, and Jonah Bolden may be able to beat smaller opponents for a few minutes.
Among the security guards and wings, here's Philadelphia's current player assortment: TJ McConnell, Furkan Korkmaz and the injured guards Markelle Fultz and Zhaire Smith. Suppose Philadelphia does not turn Fultz into players who can help now – and coach Brett Brown said Tuesday that Fultz is not nearly close – expect the Sixers to be a tough player for any buyout market guardian, who jumps freely. Wesley Matthews is the most obvious name, but anyone who appears will immediately arouse interest. Corey Brewer will probably also return to the squad once the deadline has passed.
3. Retrofitting and Resetting Clippers
One of the questions that leaders in the league have come up with in recent weeks is the direction of the clippers as of the deadline. Given the opportunity to play their first round when playing the playoffs, would the Clippers actually make that happen? Or would they instead pan and use their many interesting players for expiring transactions to net future assets?
LA opted for the latter. And that brought the Clippers an incredible move in all those picks. Not even Shamet, who was one of the most enjoyable surprises from this rookie class.
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Now, with their plan to land a pair of star-free agents (led by Kawhi Leonard, their ultimate and most likely target), the Clippers can continue into the summer without worrying about their backup In Harris, who would most likely arouse great interest as soon as free negotiation started. It also increases their coffers for a potential trade with a star either this summer or beyond.
4. The Race to the Top of the Eastern Conference Just Got Harsher
Assuming Philadelphia is able to do this and Simmons, Butler, Harris and Embiid stick together in the long run, the Sixers are likely to be a threat in the East his years will come. More important, however, is that they clearly want to get through this season.
The question now is how the other contenders – the Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks – are responding. The Bucks have probably already made their big moves, while the Celtics have to wait until the offseason to get the momentum they've been planning for years – and try to land Anthony Davis. (Note: The Clippers are almost certain to miss the playoffs, meaning that Boston will have to wait to see if it can make a selection in 2020. If the Clippers miss the playoffs this season and next, they'll get two picks out of that first round .)
This makes the Raptors the team that is most likely to counteract an aggressive move, and it will come as no surprise if Toronto does something important between now and Thursday afternoon.
The Raptors have every incentive to work for this season. Leonard is a free agent and Toronto has always had to catch up to convince him to stay. Masai Ujiri has never been afraid to make a difference. If the Raptors can find the right move, it remains to be seen, but do not expect them to let the deadline slip without turning every opportunity.
5. The end of the Western Conference has now become easier
This should also clear the way for the No. 8 to go to the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings or Minnesota Timberwolves to get. Even if the Clippers could stay in the race without Harris, it's hard to imagine that they'll stop selling now. And if they keep eliminating the players from the squad, they will make sure they slide down the overall standings.
The Lakers, Kings and Wolves, however, are all pushing for the playoffs. The Lakers are still following Anthony Davis but lost 42 points on Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers. They could be active, whether they got Davis or not, and already traded with Reggie Bullock to give them a defensive presence on the wing. The Kings – the NBA's biggest surprise this season – now seem to be even more determined to stop the league's longest playoff drought.
And while Minnesota suffered a brutal loss on Tuesday against Memphis Grizzlies, the Wolves are only 1.5 games behind the Lakers. Make no mistake: The wolves would absolutely like to make the postseason after shooting Tom Thibodeau earlier this season.