With an all-star weekend ahead of us that boasts only one Sixer-included event, Friday night’s T-Mobile Rookie Challenge featuring second-year point guard Jrue Holiday, it’s easy to glance past the next few days of basketball hype and look toward next week’s Feb. 24 NBA Trading Deadline. Yes, that’s right: the final days, hours, and minutes where NBA teams can either bolster their rosters or unload players. Given the Sixers wild ride in the first half of the season, their role in the next week has likely gone from big-time player (think Andre Iguodala trade) to small-time player perhaps looking to make that one perfect deal (think big man). Multiple people have confirmed that certain players who once seemed to be very available have been pulled off the table and that the Sixers now seem prepared to see what they have with this roster as it is.
What follows is an educated breakdown of each player’s likelihood of being traded, as well as any additional information that might be pertinent. At this moment, the Sixers seem to be merely taking and receiving phone calls – traditional exploratory talks, if you will – and are no closer to a deal than no deal. A few GMs explained that there was nothing brewing with the Sixers and labeled them “quiet.” But since most of the fun of this last week of NBA trading frenzy is the possibility of what might be, here you have it:
Jrue Holiday (1%): Just don’t see the Sixers parting with a point guard that Doug Collins believes is blossoming into one of the NBA’s better PGs. At only 20 years old, and playing in the Rookie Challenge, there’s almost no way the Sixers trade him.
Jodie Meeks (7.5%): Although he likely doesn’t have the same protection as Holiday, and though he’s played well, Meeks just doesn’t seem like a guy many teams are going to want to target, nor ask for as an additional player in a combo trade. His salary is low ($672,000) so he wouldn’t bring much in return. He’s filling his role well here on the Sixers, so there’s no reason to trade him.
Who is the better rookie?
Lou Williams (3%): Collins loves Williams and, this year, Williams is doing exactly what this team needs: scoring and dragging the offense through rough patches. His contract his reasonable and he’s just too valuable, right now, to trade. The Sixers have no other player like Williams so unless the deal is so sweet and the other team demands Williams as part of the trade, very unlikely he goes anywhere.
Evan Turner (10%): Turner is higher than Williams and Iguodala because he’s not necessarily filling a spot that the Sixers couldn’t fill without him, so if a deal does come along and he’s a necessary piece, you could see him going somewhere. The possibility of trading him still remains unlikely because the Sixers seem intrigued about what Turner might become next year, after a year learning the system and adjusting. They’ve said all along they know Turner blossoms after becoming comfortable and finding his place, therefore it would be surprising if they traded him before seeing what happens when Turner does find his place.
Andre Iguodala (5%): If the Sixers only want basketball value, and they do, then the possibility of trading Iguodala decreases. In addition, with this 40-game surge, and with Iguodala being the team’s defensive catalyst and often its point man on offense, trading Iguodala would be gambling with what Collins has built so far this season. The Sixers were at one time looking to see what they might get for Iguodala, but according to people around the league, that time has passed. Iguodala loves defense, Collins loves defense, and it’s unlikely he’s going anywhere.
Andres Nocioni (25%): Both Andres Nocioni and Jason Kapono are intriguing trade prospects. Neither is playing a crucial role with this team: Nocioni plays sparingly, Kapono never plays. And yet both make enough money to bring back an impact player in return. Coupled together (Kapono’s $6.6 million contract expires after this season, Nocioni has about $6.8 million owed this year and $6.7 million next) they could get the Sixers something on the market – perhaps a big man. The only issue is finding a trading partner, and that’s going to be a difficult task. Many people feel the perfect fit would be Los Angeles Clippers’ big man Chris Kaman ($11.3 million this year), but the Clippers would want more talent than this in return. Another thing to keep in mind, especially with Kapono, is the possibility of a buyout. He’s not going to play here and he wants to play, so keep an eye on the Sixers cutting a deal with Kapono and his agent.
Jason Kapono (25%): See above.
Thaddeus Young (15%): The reason Young’s percentage is bumped a little higher than a few of the other guys is because he intrigues many GMs around the league. He doesn’t start for the Sixers and they didn’t extend him, so there’s almost certainly a lot of inquiry about his availability. The reason his percentage isn’t bumped higher is because, couple with Williams’ off-the-bench scoring, Young gives the Sixers perhaps the best one-two bench combo in the league. The Sixers have very rarely been able to get Lou and Thad playing effectively at the same time. And they are right now.
Elton Brand (5%): Brand would be even lower, except crazy things happen in the NBA and sometimes contenders, or teams that see themselves as contenders, think they just need one final piece to push them over the edge. (If the Orlando Magic were willing to take on Gilbert Arenas’ contract on the off chance he’d return to his old form, then a team might do the same with Brand). Still, unlikely.
Marreese Speights (20%): Speights seems to intrigue other NBA teams because of his limitless potential and scoring ability. In addition, since he’s not getting much burn under Collins, he seems like a reasonable guy about whom to inquire. At Wednesday night’s game against the Rockets, the Portland Trail Blazers had a personnel scout at the game – Portland was interested in Speights – but the Sixers have no interest in that deal. Still, considering his role on this team is limited, and considering the fact he does have some trade value around the league, teams are inquiring about him and will continue to inquire.
Darius Songaila (10%): There’s just not much interest around the league for Songaila. Collins is in the process of seeing if Songaila might be able to provide some valuable minutes down the stretch, so he does hold some small importance for this team. He could be used as a spot-minute defender. Songaila’s contract ($4.8 million) comes off the books after this year, so there might be a team wanting his expiring, which puts his percentage a touch higher than a few of the other guys.
Craig Brackins (5%): Since the Sixers are still in the process of evaluating Brackins themselves, it’s hard to imagine they’d trade him, considering how little value he’d bring in return. If he’s the kick-in to make a deal work, then maybe, but otherwise the Sixers want to see what Brackins might become.
Spencer Hawes (10%): He’s the most confusing name on this list. The Sixers owe him nothing after this season (he has a qualifying offer of around $4 million). And since he’s the starting center for this team, and one recently acquired for Samuel Dalembert, there’s very little chance he’s going anywhere before the trading deadline.
Tony Battie (10%): Collins likely needs Battie to provide some crucial inside minutes down the stretch and in the playoffs, but if some contender comes calling, in need of one last big man, and offers something sweet in return, then you never know. Only problem is, Battie is offering the one thing the Sixers need: inside presence.
Should be an interesting week,
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