As of December 15th, all players signed over the offseason are eligible to be traded. This unofficially marks the beginning of trade season. While the Sixers have several holes to address, they should look to upgrade the bench by bringing in another scorer. Swapping Markelle Fultz for D’Angelo Russell would provide interesting upside for both teams.
According to Keith Pompey of Philly.com, the Sixers are “in no rush to trade” Fultz, in large part because the team’s “ownership group isn’t in total agreement with what to do with Fultz.” It appears the team wants to see if he can medically recover and give him one last chance on the court. However, if the right deal comes along in the next few weeks, the Sixers may have to consider moving the guard.
Last Friday, the Nets agreed on a 3-year, $34 million extension with Spencer Dinwiddie, signaling that they may not re-sign Russell in the offseason. The Nets may be looking to recoup some value for Russell before he leaves in free agency. If the Nets chose Fultz over Russell, they would likely save $5-$10 million each of the next few years. With Dinwiddie in the fold, they could allow Fultz all the time he needs to fully recover and re-develop his game.
The addition of D’Angelo Russell to the Sixers could shift the balance of power at the top of the Eastern Conference. Russell is having a career-year, averaging 18 points, 6 assists, while shooting 36% from beyond the arc. He would instantly become a super-sub for the Sixers and would provide Brett Brown with more lineup flexibility in late game situations. The Sixers would also retain his rights next summer, allowing them to match any offers in restricted free agency.
This could be an interesting gamble for the Sixers if they do not believe Fultz is in the long-term plans. The front office would have half of a season to see how Russell fits in with the Big Three, while providing a significant upgrade to the second unit in the short term. If Russell is worthy of an extension, the Sixers would have the easiest path to re-signing him while still maintaining the flexibility to re-sign Butler and fill out the rest of the bench.