This year, BBALLBREAKDOWN decided to do something a little different to preview the NBA’s trade deadline. We gave 30 writers/podcasters/twitter personalities control of an NBA team for a week and let them negotiate deals with each other in a mock trade deadline. Bryan Toporek took control of the Philadelphia 76ers and discusses carrying on Hinkie’s work.
By Bryan Toporek
- The 76ers send Jahlil Okafor to the Mavericks for Seth Curry, J.J. Barea and a 2020 first round pick.
To view the rest of the trades in the BBALLBREAKDOWN mock trade deadline, click here.
Heading into the week, I had one goal in mind: Get Jahlil Okafor the hell off my team. After immediately declaring his availability to the league, I was pleasantly surprised with how much interest he generated.
I wound up juggling two offers: The Phoenix Suns offered T.J. Warren plus whichever first-round pick was worse between their own and Miami’s in 2021, or the deal I ended up taking — Seth Curry, J.J. Barea and an unprotected 2020 first-round pick from the Dallas Mavericks. Both offers vastly exceeded what I expected to receive for Okafor, and frankly, I would be shocked if the real-life Sixers could get that type of value. (ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Marc J. Spears confirmed those suspicions Monday, reporting Philadelphia may receive Alexis Ajinca and a 2018 protected first-round pick in exchange for Okafor.)
What caused me to choose Dallas’ offer over Phoenix’s? Though the Mavericks had already traded for Allen Crabbe, Hassan Whiteside and Josh Richardson by the time I made this deal — which makes their 2020 outlook far sunnier than the real-life one three years down the road in Big D — I believe Seth Curry is a far better fit alongside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons than Warren. I wanted to add at least one more young, cheap shooter who could emerge as part of my team’s potential long-term future, and Curry represents an immediate marked upgrade over Nik Stauskas. J.J. Barea will help compensate for Jerryd Bayless’ injury and allows me to move on from Sergio Rodriguez this summer, while that 2020 first-rounder could wind up being better than expected if Whiteside’s attitude sours away from South Beach.
Had I done the Warren deal, I likely would have traded Nerlens Noel, Robert Covington and the Los Angeles Lakers’ top-three-protected first-round pick to the Golden State Warriors for Klay Thompson. Without Warren, though, I’d be woefully thin at the 3 after trading RoCo, and I have an undeniable soft spot for the Tennessee State product, too. Thompson would have been a great fit as my 2-guard of the future, but I worry about whether going from a championship contender in Golden State to a rebuilding team on the rise in Philly would adversely affect his motivation. Trading for Klay felt like a win-now move, and I don’t believe the Sixers are quite at that spot yet. (It’s also hard to ignore the possibility of having nine years of team control over what could be the No. 4 or 5 pick in what some GMs are calling the deepest draft class in a decade, per ESPN.com’s Chad Ford.)
Aside from Okafor, Noel was my other most sought-after asset in trade talks, as opposing GMs knew I’m in a precarious situation with him. Though he has pulled an about-face after lashing out about his dwindling role earlier this season, his impending date with restricted free agency means we’ll have to match any offer sheet he receives or lose him for nothing in July.
When discussing possible deals, the Brooklyn Nets general manager informed me in no uncertain terms that he planned to hand Noel a max offer sheet, which would force me into a tough decision. (Unfortunately, I had little interest in his offer of Ed Davis and Al-Farouq Aminu for Noel.) Ultimately, I’m entering free agency planning to match any offer sheet Noel receives — yes, even a max — but once Embiid proves he can withstand the rigors of a regular minute load across a full 82-game season, I’ll be openly shopping Nerlens.
With Simmons reportedly nearing his regular-season debut, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes, I also tested the market on Ersan Ilyasova, as my crowded frontcourt will soon only become more crowded. I thought a 29-year-old stretch 4 putting up career-best numbers on an expiring contract might have attracted some attention from a contender in need of extra scoring pop, but interest in him was tepid at best. Simmons and Dario Saric will gobble up most of the minutes at the 4 for my squad over the long haul, so losing Ilyasova as a free agent this summer won’t be a huge setback. That said, netting even a second-round pick would have been better than nothing.
Though I wasn’t nearly as active as many other GMs this week, I accomplished what I set out to do (trade Okafor) and received far more value than I anticipated for him. Once I did that, I lit a Cuban cigar and booked the next ticket to Cabo San Lucas, where I could watch the rest of the NBA burn from afar. And since I netted a larger haul for Okafor than my real-life counterpart, I’ll be accepting Bryan Colangelo’s resignation at any time.