By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer
With just under 24 hours remaining until the trade deadline, rumors and speculation continue to run rampant regarding a potential trade between the 76ers and Brooklyn Nets.
The Inquirer's Keith Pompey reported on Wednesday afternoon that both Matisse Thybulle and Seth Curry have been mentioned in talks between the two teams. Both players play integral roles for the Sixers. Should the team be willing to give either of them up in a trade to bring in James Harden?
Curry is in the midst of a career year, averaging 15.0 points and 4.0 assists while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from three-point range. Will giving him up in a Harden trade hurt? Yes, he provides a ton of the floor spacing the team needs around Joel Embiid. He has also shown an improved ability to score from the mid-range area this season, helping him expand his game to more than just being a three-point shooter.
However, acquiring Harden and the development Tyrese Maxey has shown this season would make Curry the most expendable of any of the team's top players. Trading for a player of Harden's caliber will cost something in addition to the disgruntled Ben Simmons, and if that ends up involving Curry then so be it.
In terms of Thybulle, it is a different story. According to another report from Pompey in mid-January, the team considered Thybulle to be nearly untouchable. Thybulle, in just his third season, already has become one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. He is averaging 1.0 blocks and 1.6 steals per game for his career, and has already earned himself one second-team All-Defensive selection.
Thybulle might struggle offensively, but he has made some strides in certain areas of his offensive game throughout this season. He has become better at cutting to the basket and is shooting 73.2 percent on shots from within 10 feet of the basket. He has also shown some improvement as an outside shooter. Over his last 20 games, he has shot 36.0 percent from three-point range on 2.5 attempts per game. Between his improvement as a cutter and his recent improvement from beyond the arc, he has enough promise to become at least serviceable on offense to go along with his excellent defensive abilities.
Thybulle and Curry both specialize in one aspect and struggle in others. Curry is a good three-point shooter but is a liability on defense. Thybulle is a great defensive player who currently struggles to provide enough on the offensive end. It is more difficult to find a player with the defensive abilities Thybulle has than it is to find a good outside shooter. Therefore, the Sixers should be more willing to give up Curry than Thybulle.
However, general manager Daryl Morey is reportedly haggling with Nets general manager Sean Marks over what to give up in addition to Simmons. The two are likely battling over who has the most leverage in the trade negotiations, with Morey having the perceived advantage in that he believes, according to a report from The Athletic, Harden will not re-sign with the Nets this offseason. If Harden does indeed leave the Nets after this season, the Sixers would be able to make some moves (trading Simmons and Tobias Harris) to clear the requisite cap space needed to sign Harden outright in free agency.
The main advantage the Sixers would get by trading for Harden before the trade deadline is it will vastly improve their ability to contend for the championship this season. Making the move is worth it only if it does not come at the expense of giving up Embiid, Maxey or Thybulle. If it ends up costing the team Thybulle, then I would lean away from pulling the trigger and wait until the offseason to sign Harden outright.