The Philadelphia 76ers have been the subject of internal drama amidst an underwhelming season thus far. Why should they have traded for Luke Kennard?
Last summer they let J.J. Redick, their best shooter, walk without supplementing the loss of his shooting with a quality replacement. Tobias Harris is the only starter who is above league average in three-point percentage this year at 36%, and that is on less than five attempts a night.
It is no secret that this team desperately needs more shooting and some more on-ball creation. The 76ers missed a golden chance at the deadline to grab someone who is one of the best shooters in the league and can provide some of that extra creation. Out of nowhere, Luke Kennard ended up on the block, and he was very close to getting shipped to Phoenix. He could have been had! Maybe the 76ers made a call, but there were no rumors that they were involved in trade talks, so one must assume they did not make any serious pushes for Kennard.
I will start by addressing the only possible reason I can think of for the 76ers to not get involved in the Kennard sweepstakes: money. Yes, the team is set to get expensive next year when Ben Simmons’ max contract begins. While Luke Kennard is set to get paid soon, he will still be on his rookie deal next year, making only just over $5 million. Plus, every iteration of a potential trade keeps them out of the luxury tax this year.
If having to pay Kennard in the summer of 2021 is that much of a concern, that is just poor management. He can be moved easily to someone who values his restricted rights, they could use him in a sign-and-trade, one of their other expensive contracts would be movable by then, or they can just let him walk.
Money should not have been the reason they did not make this deal.
What would a potential trade have looked like?
The trade construction is so glaringly simple here. Zhaire Smith makes almost the exact same amount as Kennard, he plays the same position, and while he has had a very weird first 1.5 years, he is still crazy athletic and carries potential. The Sixers are also loaded with quality second round picks and have most of their first rounders going forward. There would certainly be some haggling over picks because there are so many different potential variations, but there is definitely a deal that should have been made.
This deal is the simplest version of the potential trade. The two swap prospects and Detroit gets the Philly 2021 first rounder and the 2020 Atlanta 2020 second round pick. The Pistons would end up getting a likely top-35 second rounder, a late first, and an interesting prospect. The Sixers get their young sniper who could play off their stars and be a secondary creator.
This deal expands out and brings Galloway to Philly as well. They get another quality shooter for the price of one more likely top-35 second round pick. Detroit also saves more money in this deal, as they are currently pushing the luxury tax.
At the end of the day, even if my evaluation is a little off, this deal should have gotten done. If Detroit had demanded all three of Philly’s quality seconds, they still should have done it. The hit rate on second round picks is not high, even for quality picks. If you can get someone who is a perfect fit and fills a huge hole in your roster while also still being on a rookie scale deal, you do it. Even if the Pistons demanded two first round picks, you find a deal to get it done. The immediate help and cheap production Kennard could bring is too good to pass on.
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