The NBA trade deadline had its fair share of fireworks down the stretch and the Philadelphia 76ers proved to be very active during the process.
The Sixers made a surprising move on Thursday when they traded former top pick Markelle Fultz in exchange for Jonathon Simmons, a first round pick (from the Oklahoma City Thunder), and a second round pick. This comes just two days after the team acquired Tobias Harris, Mike Scott, and Boban Marjanovic from the Los Angeles Clippers.
Here are the grades for each team involved in this deal.
Philadelphia 76ers: B
- Jonathon Simmons
- 2020 first-round pick (from Oklahoma City Thunder)
- 2019 second-round pick
The Sixers have really altered their roster since the 2018-19 season began. In November, Philadelphia made a bold move when they acquired Jimmy Butler in exchange for Robert Covington and Dario Saric, who were two integral parts of the team’s rebuilding process.
On Tuesday, following a loss to the Toronto Raptors, general manager Elton Brand made headlines once again when he acquired Tobias Harris along with Mike Scott and Boban Marjanovic. In the deal, the Sixers parted with the coveted unprotected first-round pick that they acquired in their draft night trade that netted them Zhaire Smith in exchange for Mikal Bridges.
In the grand scheme of the on-court product, this deal doesn’t move the needle a ton for Philadelphia. Jonathon Simmons has had his moments during his NBA career, including averaging a career-high 13.9 points for the Magic during the 2017-18 season. While he isn’t known for his stellar three-point shooting, Simmons has the potential to knock down shots from beyond the arc when given the opportunity. In two of his four professional seasons, the guard has converted on at least 33.8 percent of his shots from deep, including posting a 38.3 percent clip as a rookie with San Antonio.
While Simmons should see minutes in the Sixers rotation, the appeal of the move is that the franchise was able to add a first-round pick. In order to acquire Harris, Philadelphia was forced to part with their own protected 2020 first round pick, the Miami Heat’s unprotected first-round pick in 2021, and 2021 and 2023 second-round picks. Getting a return of a first round pick helps replenish the Sixers asset pool and could come in handy in the future if the team is attempting to acquire more talent over the summer or next season.
Orlando Magic: C
The Markelle Fultz situation was one of the strangest that the NBA has seen in recent years. The Sixers traded the 2017 third overall pick and an additional first round pick to the Boston Celtics in order to acquire the top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. It’s been well-documented that Fultz has barely played while Jayson Tatum has shown the potential to be a superstar with the Celtics.
Fultz is currently sidelined after he was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, which is an injury that deals with the nerves between the shoulder and neck. The former top pick has been out of the lineup since Nov. 19 and was averaging just 8.2 points in 19 games this season prior to the injury. It’s been expected that Fultz will return to the court at some point this season, but that has yet to be seen.
While it’s somewhat of a high price tag, it’s a gamble that the Magic can afford to make. Orlando isn’t positioned to make an NBA title run anytime soon and is attempting to build their roster around Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac with Nikola Vucevic set to become a free agent at the end of the season.
Fultz will get an opportunity in a smaller market where he won’t be under nearly as much scrutiny. During his freshman season at Washington, the highly-touted guard was an explosive athlete that could really shoot the ball from deep. If he can work his way through this injury and become the player that many envisioned, it’ll be a steal for the Magic. However, with Fultz being such an unknown commodity, the grade can’t be very high at the current time.