Three of the 76ers’ newest additions walked to the podium on the second floor of the team’s practice facility at 5 p.m. Thursday. They were decked out in black team polo shirts, gray warmup pants, and pleasant looks on their faces.
Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and Mike Scott, whom the Sixers acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, are elated to be a part of what the Sixers hope is an Eastern Conference title contender.
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“I think we’ll fit in perfectly with Philly, the Philly fans,” said Scott. “They’ll love how we play and how we compete with each other and play unselfish on both ends and [try to] win a championship.”
The acquisition of the trio on Wednesday was just the beginning of a whirlwind two days for the Sixers before the NBA trade deadline concluded at 3 p.m. Thursday.
The most notable move involved the trade of Markelle Fultz to the Orlando Magic on Thursday, less than two years after the Sixers traded up two spots to draft him first overall in 2017.
The Sixers also acquired James Ennis from the Houston Rockets in exchange for the right to swap second-round picks in the 2021 draft. They waived Malachi Richardson one day after acquiring him to make room for the 6-foot-7, 210-pounder.
General manager Elton Brand did not address reporters during the news conference because the Orlando and Houston trades were not finalized at that time.
Both moves made sense. In Ennis, the Sixers get a coveted perimeter defender. They also ship away a first-overall pick who failed to live up to expectations and stay on the court because of shooting woes.
So they flipped him for Jonathon Simmons, a 2019 second-round pick, and a 2020 top-20 protected first-rounder. The second-rounder will be the most favorable among the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Houston Rockets, and the Magic. The protected first-rounder will come from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Fultz has been sidelined Nov. 19 with what his agent, Raymond Brothers, said was diagnosed as thoracic outlet syndrome. Last season, he was sidelined with what the team and Brothers said was scapular muscle imbalance. However, sources close to the situation have said his shooting woes were mental.
Fultz missed a total of 103 games as a Sixer, dating back to last season.
“Thank you to my teammates, Sixers Fans, the organization, and all those who have supported me as I rehab from TOS,” Fultz tweeted Thursday night. “I wish the Sixers and the fans well as they pursue a championship.”
He needed a fresh start on a team that will make him the starting point guard. The change of scenery could also help him overcome the stigma that comes with failing to live up to the lofty expectations of others.
The Sixers traded up two spots and gave up a future first-round pick to the Boston Celtics to select Fultz first overall in 2017.
He leaves the Sixers with career averages of 7.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 33 career games with 15 starts. The 20-year-old shot just 28.6 percent on three-pointers.
The Magic took the gamble because they are in desperate need of a point guard. Orlando can tell its fans that it traded for a onetime No. 1 draft pick.
In Simmons, the Sixers get a fourth-year veteran who has averaged 8.5 points in 243 career games, with 69 starts.
The reserve shooting guard is making $6 million this season. Only $1 million of next season’s $5.7 million is guaranteed.
Ennis averaged 7.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 23 minutes in 39 games with 25 starts this season for the Rockets. The 28-year-old, who can play small forward and shooting guard, is a solid defender and will bolster the Sixers’ struggling perimeter defense. The reserve will also provide much-needed depth.
The Ventura, Calif., native is shooting 50 percent from the field and 37 percent on three-pointers. Ennis is making $1.6 million this season and has a player option for $1.8 million next season.
Ennis, Simmons, Marjanovic, and Scott are in Philly to strengthen what had been a struggling bench.
At 7-foot-3, Marjanovic is a matchup problem in certain situations. Scott is a gritty power forward with three-point range.
But Harris was the headliner of the trade that brought the trio to the Sixers from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for rookie guard Landry Shamet, veterans Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala, and four draft picks: a protected 2020 first-rounder, the Miami Heat’s 2021 first-rounder, a Detroit Pistons 2021 second-rounder, and the Pistons’ 2023 second-rounder.
The 2020 pick is lottery-protected for three years. Afterward, it will turn into two second-round picks – one in 2023 and one in 2024.
Muscala was later traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Sixers’ reality changed with Wednesday’s trade.
They went from a team that would have struggled to get out of the second round of the playoffs to an Eastern Conference finals contender.
However, the conference’s top two teams, the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors, also upgraded with trades.
The Raptors acquired Marc Gasol, a three-time All-Star center and former defensive player of the year, from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles, and a 2024 second-round pick.
The Bucks obtained standout power forward Nikola Mirotic from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson, and four second-round picks.
The Sixers believe Harris complements and strengthens the core group they already have in center Joel Embiid, point guard Ben Simmons, and small forward Jimmy Butler. Embiid was voted an All-Star starter for the second consecutive season, Simmons was named an All-Star reserve this season, and Butler is a four-time All-Star.
On paper, the foursome and shooting guard JJ Redick are arguably on a par with – if not better than – any NBA starting lineup outside of Golden State’s group of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and DeMarcus Cousins.
The Sixers have long-term plans for the core group.
Look for them to try sign Butler and Harris to max contracts next summer to make that possible.
Harris is in the final year of his contract. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Butler can opt out of the final year — 2019-20 — of his contract to become a free agent.
A winning culture is the first thing Harris is looking for in free agency. Number two is loyalty followed by the “right situation for team basketball.”
“This team has made a big trade for myself,” Harris said. “Hopefully this can be a longtime partnership and we can make it. But I know one thing that can handle all that is if we win basketball games.”
In a separate development, Corey Brewer agreed to sign a 10-day contract with the Sacramento Kings on Thursday. On Sunday, the small forward completed two consecutive 10-day contracts with the Sixers.
The NBA trade deadline day wouldn’t be complete without a trade involving a Sixer during the NBA All-Star Draft.
Bucks power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo selected Simmons with the 13th overall pick for Team Giannis in the reserve round Thursday. But he traded the 2018 rookie of the year to Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James so Simmons could play with his close friend on Team LeBron.