Thanks to their blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Clippers to acquire Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanovic, the Sixers have roughly doubled their chances of making it to the NBA Finals, according to FiveThirtyEight stats guru Nate Silver.
According to Silver, the Sixers' chances of making it to the NBA Finals are now about 20 percent, up from around 10 percent prior to adding Harris to their roster.
“This is one of the more obvious win-win trades in a while … although a lot more high-leverage for the 76ers than the Clippers,” Silver wrote on Twitter early Wednesday morning, noting he was surprised by the amount of negative reaction to the deal.
One notable critic was Bill Simmons, the CEO of The Ringer and host of The Bill Simmons Podcast. Almost immediately after news of the deal broke, Simmons jumped on Twitter and marveled at the Clippers’ ability to get two first-round picks out of the trade, even though the Sixers’ 2020 first-round pick is expected to be very low.
“That Sixers trade felt desperate - gave up way too much for an expiring [free agent],” Simmons wrote in a subsequent tweet. “And throwing [Landry] Shamet in the deal was just weird … Why not make same offer for Jrue Holiday?”
Not everyone at The Ringer agreed with their boss. NBA writer Kevin O’Connor wrote the addition of Harris arguably gives the Sixers the best five-man lineup in the Eastern Conference.
Over on ESPN, writer Kevin Pelton gave the Clippers a solid “A” for the trade, while he slapped the Sixers with a “C-,” writing that the Philadelphia “paid dearly” to add Harris.
“I don’t think I would have given up so much in terms of both future picks and Shamet for a player who will be an unrestricted free agent in five months (and could, it should be noted, just walk away),” Pelton wrote. “If the Sixers reach the NBA Finals in the next couple of years, however, the price may prove worth it.”
Fellow NBA writer Tim Bontemps was curious about what other Eastern Conference contenders would do to counter the Sixers, who could be a threat in the East for years to come if they manage to keep Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid, and Harris together long-term.
“The question now is how do the other contenders — the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks — react? The Bucks have likely already made their big moves, while the Celtics have to wait until the offseason to make the swing they’ve been plotting for years — trying to land [New Orleans Pelicans star] Anthony Davis,” Bontemps wrote. “That leaves the Raptors as the team most likely to counter with an aggressive move, and it won’t be a surprise if Toronto does something significant between now and Thursday afternoon.”
The Raptors' moves may have already begun, as the Sixers acquired guard Malachi Richardson and a 2022 second-round pick for cash considerations from the Raptors later Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile on FS1, First Things First host Nick Wright was high on the trade, calling the deal “a coup for the Philadelphia 76ers.” He also pointed out the only reason the Clippers are currently in the playoffs is because of Harris, who was a fringe All-Star candidate in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles Times sports columnist Dan Woike wrote that the move to deal Harris was more about setting the Clippers up for long-term success — and possibly a quiet way to undercut the cross-town Lakers in their attempts to acquire Davis.
“By trading a good player in Harris — someone who very well could earn close to a max salary after the best season of his career — the Clippers have the assets to trade for a superstar in addition to the salary cap room to sign another this summer,” Woike wrote.