76ers Trade Targets with 2022 NBA Trade Deadline a Month Away

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2022

76ers Trade Targets with 2022 NBA Trade Deadline a Month Away

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    The 2022 NBA trade deadline is just over a month away.

    Is now the time for the Philadelphia 76ers to finally broker that long-awaited Ben Simmons blockbuster?

    That depends on what the market is offering, as the Sixers clearly aren't interested in giving away their All-Star point guard for 75 cents on the dollar. But as a non-shooting point guard who hasn't logged a second of action since struggling mightily on the postseason stage, his trade value is as murky as they come.

    If the Sixers go shopping with Simmons as trade bait, the following three players should feature prominently on their radar ahead of February 10.

Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings

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    The 76ers have been on the hunt for an "All-Star-caliber player" in exchange for Simmons since the summer, per The Athletic's Shams Charania. Would a future All-Star satisfy that request?

    Tyrese Haliburton is a 21-year-old sophomore who already looks good at everything. He might not be great in any specific area, but he's close in both playmaking (11 games with double-digit assists) and long-range shooting (2.0 threes per game at a 43.5 percent clip). His length, motor and skills help him play anywhere along the perimeter on both ends of the floor.

    That might make him a no-brainer keeper for most lottery teams, but the Kings don't see themselves as such. They are anxious to book their first playoff trip since 2006, and their desire to win "means that no player is off the table in terms of potential [trade] talks," per The Athletic's Sam Amick. The scribe also relayed that Sacramento's interest in Simmons "is definitely there."

    What's interesting about a Kings' package built around Haliburton is that his rookie-scale contract means more must be attached to him to match Simmons' max money. So it wouldn't be just Haliburton but maybe him with sharpshooter Buddy Hield and more or Haliburton, three-and-D ace Harrison Barnes and an extra sweetener.

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

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    There's no reason to expect a Damian Lillard deal before the deadline. Well, nothing beyond the Blazers' lowest winning percentage of his decade-long tenure.

    Still, he has long ranked at or near the top of Philly's wishlist, and he continues holding that spot, per Amick. The Sixers are interested for a reason, and they have nothing lose by blowing up the Blazers' inbox.

    Assuming Lillard can shake his lingering abdominal issue and return to his normal production levels, he would be perfect as an offensive co-star with Joel Embiid. They could work two-man magic in the half-court, and each would prevent defenses from overcrowding the other, since they would consistently skewer one-on-one matchups.

    Th Blazers have needed a perimeter shot-creator since before Simmons decided he wanted out. A healthy Lillard is about as good as it gets.

Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs

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    As head coach Doc Rivers recently told reporters regarding Simmons' absence, "You see the glaring holes that he leaves us."

    The Sixers could cover a lot of them up by dealing for Dejounte Murray.

    It's possible he's too similar to Simmons for the Sixers to bite if they are fearful of the same square-peg, round-hole fit issues Simmons has had with Embiid. Having said that, Philly clearly misses Simmons' elite defense and playmaking, and Murray checks the same boxes. And while the three-point shot isn't a major part of his arsenal, he's at least willing to let them fly (1.3 threes at a 33.6 percent clip).

    As with Haliburton, Murray doesn't make enough to match Simmons' salary on his own, so the Sixers could extract additional assets in a swap. That might mean plucking an extra combo guard in Derrick White, nabbing an ascending three-and-D wing in Devin Vassell or adding a three-point sniper like Doug McDermott or Bryn Forbes, all while potentially getting draft considerations too.