Last year, the bench was a serious Achilles Heel for Philadelphia. The second unit finished the regular season 27th in assists and 28th in points. The unreliable play from veterans like Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz, and Matisse Thybulle made them borderline unplayable during the playoffs. The relative inexperience of youngsters Paul Reed, Isaiah Joe, and Charles Bassey also forced much more pressure on the Sixers starters.
But the Sixers are gearing up for training camp with 17 players under contract. That’s two more than the regular season-maximum of 15, mandated by the league. This means several players could be cut or traded before the season starts up.
Sixers boss Daryl Morey is not one to let assets walk out the door for nothing. Is it possible he executes another trade before the season starts? Potentially, with Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley tabbing former Warriors guard Alec Burks as a potential trade target for Philadelphia.
Burks Could Add to the 76ers’ Playmaking Off the Bench
While the Sixers certainly added depth to their second unit, one area that is still lacking is a bench-unit playmaker. As it stands, Sixers starter Tyrese Maxey will likely be the lead facilitator with the second unit, filling in while James Harden rests.
And while staggering minutes is a wise basketball move, it doesn’t nix the fact that the Sixers could use a backcourt mate to pair with Maxey off the bench. And that’s where Burks could thrive.
“Philly could use another playmaker on the second unit,” Buckley wrote, “and Burks, a career wing, just held his own as an emergency point guard for the New York Knicks (3.0 assists against 1.1 turnovers). He can manage most defensive matchups on the perimeter, and he has splashed better than 38 percent of his threes each of the past three seasons.”
Burks would also be something of a homecoming for the Sixers. He spent half a season in Philadelphia after being traded to the Sixers from the Golden State Warriors in 2020. In a few months with the Sixers, Burks averaged 12.2 points on nearly 42% from three.
But going after Burks won’t be easy, nor will it come cheap.
What Do the 76ers Have to Give up for Burks?
Burks is entering the second year of a three-year $30 million deal, meaning he’s owed around $10 million this season and next. As it stands, the Sixers have less than $1 million to spend acquiring new players.
With the purse string so tight, the Sixers can only afford to match salaries with Detroit — Philadelphia can’t take back any excess salary. Trying to pull off a three-for-one built around Furkan Korkmaz ($5 million owed next season) and Georges Niang ($3.5 million owed) could get the ball rolling.
The real kicker will be whether Detroit holds out for Matisse Thybulle. Thybulle’s offense makes him a liability during the playoffs, but his defense is tanatalyzing. He would also fit the timeline of a young Pistons team headlined by scorers in Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, and rookie Jaden Ivey.
But whether the Sixers want to give up on Thybulle yet is another question altogether. But hey, there’s always Tobias Harris if the Pistons and Sixers want to get especially frisky.