Sixers Mailbag #15: Trade Deadline Edition

The NBA's trade deadline is Thursday at 3 pm. We discuss what the Sixers might do in this week's mailbag.

How well Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor fit on the court together has been a popular topic of conversation early on in the Sixers season | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Big men Nerlens Noel (left) and Jahlil Okafor (right) are among the Sixers’ most sought after trade assets leading up to Thursday’s NBA trade deadline | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

This week we continue our 76ers mailbag series, where we discuss some of the pressing topics around the team.

In the 15th edition of our Sixers mailbag we discuss Brandon Ingram‘s jump shooting and, more importantly, the upcoming 2016 NBA trade deadline.

You can read previous editions of the Sixers mailbag here. If you want to submit a question for a future mailbag either shoot me a message on twitter or send me an email.

Note: any opinions expressed here are my own opinions, and not reports or expectations based off of inside information, unless I explicitly state that a statement is based off of inside information.


“Why is there no talk this year about the sixers acquiring a draft pick by taking on the salary of a overpaid veteran?”

I think this is happening for a couple of reasons.

First, I think people want this trade deadline to be different. Especially with Jerry Colangelo in the fold, I think many are hoping for trades that bring in current NBA players. That doesn’t so much speak to what is likely to happen, but instead to what is desired.

Second, I think there’s a general sense that since everybody is going to have cap space this summer, that space is thus less valuable in a trade. And in a sense that’s true, but there are still conditions where the Sixers’ cap space will be very valuable.

The first instance is for teams looking to shed salary for the 2015-16 NBA season, either to decrease the luxury tax bill for a disappointing team (hello, Rockets/Heat) or to create a little bit of flexibility to facilitate a trade. The second instance where the Sixers’ cap space can become a real asset is to create cap space for the 2016 NBA free agency period.

Sure, teams looking to clear more room to fit a max (or second max) player under next year’s cap could rely on shedding a salary to a team under the cap next July, but you have to find a team willing to decrease their cap space to do so, and that’s never a guarantee. If they have the chance to create more cap space now, and have that guarantee, most teams will take it.

The fact that there are two other teams (Utah and Portland) with significant cap space at the deadline hurts the Sixers’ negotiating position a little bit, but I do think that cap space is the most likely “asset” to be traded.

Anthony Capelli (@Anthony_Capelli, similar question from Vaughn Thomas):

“Do you agree with “wait until the Sixers know about Joel Embiid to trade one of the big men” sentiment?”


Both Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor would have their question marks when trying to play with Joel Embiid, but the decision on which one to keep I view as mostly independent of what happens with Embiid.

The evidence we have thus far paints a pretty clear picture that they are both more effective when playing without the other. Whether or not they’re traded at the deadline, and which one is traded if you do come to that conclusion, will depend on a number of factors: whether Sam Hinkie and Jerry Colangelo feel they have enough information to project their future growth and determine whether a pairing is feasible years down the line, which big man they have more confidence in overcoming his deficiencies, and what offers are out there, to name a few.

I still think if a decision is made to move on from one of the big men, it will happen no sooner than the draft. My hunch, and it’s just a hunch, is they want more information before making such an important decision, although for the right offer, anything and everything is on the table.

In the end, if they have confidence in them working as a tandem, they’ll stay. If not, they’ll (eventually) be separated. I think Joel Embiid’s health is pretty low on the list contributing factors for a potential separation of the bigs for the simple fact that the pairing is in question even if he never plays a day in his life.

Matt Ernst (@MErnsty007):

“True or false…the Sixers shouldn’t make any big trades until they see where they land in the lottery?”


I don’t think the Sixers’ mindset is one where if they get a great opportunity that will help the long-term health of the franchise that they’re going to pass it up. There is the possibility that a trade will present itself that will be beneficial to the future of the franchise regardless of whether the Sixers land Brandon Ingram, Ben Simmons, or some other player in the 2016 draft.

Now, could the addition of Ben Simmons in June’s draft cause more moves to be made? Sure. But I wouldn’t rule out a major move just because there’s uncertainty surrounding June’s draft.

JBlevins (@JBlevins46):

“How much does the uncertainty around Chris Bosh‘s injury change the calculus on the Heat pick value? Could see pick as high as 13.”

First, I want to get this out of the way: Bosh’s injury is a devastating one for Bosh, his family, the Miami Heat, NBA fans, and, yes, Sixers fans. Injuries are never good, especially one that has quality of life concerns such as repeated situations with blood clots.

But the impact on the Miami Heat, and the pick they owe the Sixers, is impacted by Bosh missing time, and us ignoring that reality doesn’t change that. Miami goes from a +0.6 net rating with Bosh on the court to a -1.3 when he’s on the bench, per

Miami had been playing a little bit better of late, winning 6 of 7 to close out a road trip before running into the Los Angeles Clippers / San Antonio Spurs buzzsaw to finish out the first “half”. With 29 games left, 15 of which are on the road, they’ve gotten through the road-heavy portion of the schedule mostly intact.

They’re only 2.5 games out of the lottery, and I don’t think it’s impossible the pick ends up in the mid-teens. I do think it’s unlikely the pick ends up in the top-10 (pre-lottery, at least), though: they’re 7 games up on the Knicks and 7.5 games up on the Magic, neither of whom are playing particularly good basketball of late.


“Is Okafor the most polarizing Philly athlete since Donovan McNabb?”

Since McNabb? I think McNabb is kind of the cutoff between “really, really polarizing” (Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Terrell Owens, etc) and the “somewhat polarizing to certain segments of the fan base” (Bobby Abreu, Andre Iguodala, Michael Carter-Williams, etc).

To the large majority of the Sixers’ fan base, Okafor is the team’s prized possession. I would guess that there’s no debate to 90 percent of people who are even remotely interested in the team. The truly polarizing players elicit debate between every segment of the fan base.

In that regard, I would liken him to Bobby Abreu and Andre Iguodala, not in style or impact, but in how he is debated. But where the majority (the vocal majority, at least) of fans disliked Iguodala and Abreu, I would say that’s flipped in Okafor’s case.

I don’t think there have been that many truly polarizing players in the last decade. In terms of vitriol, I think it has to go to Michael Vick. In terms of how hotly debated his on-field performance was, probably Sam Bradford, although that’s mostly a product of the Eagles’ standing in the city and Bradford’s contract running out. That could also be recency bias at play, since every time I’m in my car I’m listening to some form of Sam Bradford debate. If you’re extending that to non-athletes, Chip Kelly and Sam Hinkie are  certainly in conntention.

I think Okafor’s been very polarizing, but it’s mostly contained to certain parts of twitter and the blogosphere. In that small scope, however, he’s certainly been very polarizing.

Mason Burrows (@2ci):

“What is your opinion on Brandon Ingram’s FT%?”

Odd. Very, very odd.

Ingram’s shooting 44.6 percent on three-pointers this season, including 41 percent on 59 shots beyond 24′, and he looks pretty doing it: his stroke is pure, his touch soft, and everything looks repeatable.

From the foul line, however, he’s shooting just 67 percent, which is pretty abysmal for a wing player, especially one known for his shooting.

It’s often said that free-throw shooting is generally a better predictor of future success than three-point shooting, in large part because the sample for free-throws is usually significantly higher. With Ingram, who is attempting 5.3 three-point attempts per game, that’s not the case: he’s actually attempted more three’s (132) than he has free-throws (115).

Because of that, along with the eye test, I have a pretty strong feeling that the free-throw shooting is the anomaly. Or, at the very least, the free-throw shooting will be easily “fixable” with time and repetition. In short, I think he’s a great shooter regardless of what the free-throw percentage does or does not say at this stage of his career.

One thing I do find interesting with Ingram is his splits: he greatly prefers shooting from the left side of the court. It’s not uncommon for players to prefer one side over the other, and there’s likely some noise in the data, as the volume isn’t enough to establish a trend. Even if his struggles from the right side are that pronounced, I don’t think it’s a long-term concern. Still, I found it interesting.


That will wrap it up. Once again, If you want to submit a question for a future mailbag, either shoot me a message on twitter or send me an email.

Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.