There have been rumors for many months about the Philadelphia 76ers pulling the trigger on a deal to ship Ben Simmons to the Sacramento Kings. Things have heated up over the past couple weeks, and more came out today about those rumored discussions.
Keith Pompey, in his latest piece for The Inquirer, dumped a ton of major information about the talks between the Sixers and Kings.
"One source said Sacramento has considered packaging Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes and two first-round picks for Simmons, Harris and Matisse Thybulle. However, the source said the Sixers aren’t interested in that package.
Another source said the Sixers haven’t received a formal trade offer at this time. The source added that none of those talks have involved Thybulle or any of the Sixers’ other young players. Speaking of Thybulle specifically, the source added the second-team All-Defensive selection is close to being untouchable."
The Sixers' reported desire to package Simmons and Tobias Harris, who are owed a combined $68.9 million this season, is nothing new. Matisse Thybulle, the team's best perimeter defender, being "close to untouchable," on the other hand, is somewhat surprising.
Thybulle, in just his third season, is already an excellent defensive player. He is averaging 1.8 steals and 1.1 blocks in only 25.8 minutes per game this season, establishing himself as one of the league's best perimeter defenders. The clip below highlights him shutting down Steph Curry in a Sixers win over the Golden State Warriors in December.
Matisse Thybulle has been locked in all night 💯 pic.twitter.com/vrsCrsGn9m— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 12, 2021
The Sixers reportedly making Thybulle nearly untouchable in trade talks is certainly understandable. The team has a dearth of both athleticism and good perimeter defenders, two things Thybulle covers. If the team were to trade him, they would effectively be relying on Charlie Brown Jr., a player freshly called up from the G League and signed to a two-way contract, as their only above average perimeter defender.
The argument against making him untouchable centers around his lack of offensive ability. For as good as Thybulle is defensively, he provides extremely little on the offensive end. He is averaging 5.8 points per game this season and is a below average outside shooter (32.1 percent on 2.3 attempts per game for his career).
However, the Sixers have recently found a way to effectively utilize Thybulle on offense. They have began running him out of the dunker spot and using him as a cutter when Joel Embiid posts up.
Matisse Thybulle is making a career-high 82.1% of his shots at the rim this season.— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) January 19, 2022
A lot of his finishes are simple, but he's working well in the dunker spot and corners to find chances to cut. Developing some nice chemistry next to Embiid with his athleticism and activity. pic.twitter.com/MOfELzYZel
Thybulle's incredible defense, especially on a team lacking good perimeter defenders, warrants him being a prized player for the Sixers. The hope is his offense would come around to the point where it is not a complete liability, and the newfound usage out of the dunker spot and success around the rim is certainly promising.
Given his defensive ability and the potential recent progress in his offensive usage and abilities, I believe the Sixers are correct to have Thybulle be nearly untouchable. They should only make him available as part of a package deal for a superstar player such as Damian Lillard, James Harden or Bradley Beal.
The potential offer from the Kings - where the Sixers receive Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes in exchange for Simmons, Harris and Thybulle - reported in Pompey's article should not be enough for the Sixers to give up their best defensive player. While the offer is enticing, the Sixers can not afford to give up Thybulle unless it drastically improves the team's offense.
UPDATE: The Athletic tonight published a pair of reports, one from Shams Charania and the other an insiders roundtable with Sam Amick, David Aldridge and John Hollinger, detailing the Kings' mindset regarding building De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton as well as their interest in taking on Tobias Harris in a deal for Ben Simmons. The latest information could potentially be a smokescreen, as teams are liable to do in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, or it could not. The posturing has certainly begun with the Feb. 10 trade deadline looming.