In what has become a yearly ritual, the Philadelphia 76ers will be looking for an upgrade at backup center at the trade deadline. There are a variety of different backup center options seemingly available for trade, but there is reportedly one player sticking out from the pack.
According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, Utah Jazz reserve forward Jarred Vanderbilt has emerged as the Sixers’ “leading target” heading into the Feb. 9 trade deadline. From Fischer’s report:
Vanderbilt’s name has also appeared amid the trade deadline conversation surrounding reserve big men, most notably with the Philadelphia 76ers, sources told Yahoo Sports. While teams like the Indiana Pacers have viewed the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt as an attractive option at power forward, Vanderbilt has been described by league personnel as a leading target in Philadelphia’s quest to fortify its frontcourt reserves behind Joel Embiid.
Vanderbilt is an intriguing target for the Sixers. He has the versatility to be able to make an impact on both ends of the floor. The 23-year-old is averaging 8.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.3 blocks and 1 steal per game for Utah so far this season.
Offensively, Vanderbilt is a mixed bag. He is a monster on the offensive glass, grabbing 5 offensive rebounds per 100 possessions for his career. As a scorer, he uses his ability as a cutter combined with athleticism and instincts to be able to get his fair share of opportunities around the rim. He is not a strong outside shooter. However, he has made a small effort at improving that aspect of his game. This season, he is shooting 33.3% on 1.1 attempts per game from 3-point range.
Vanderbilt excels defensively, the side of the court where his versatility is able to shine the brightest. He stands at 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan. His length, when combined with smarts and lateral quickness, allows him to be able to defend a multitude of positions. He is incredibly disruptive and has all the makings of being a very useful defender.
The fit is a questionable, albeit workable, one for the Sixers. He does not have the size of a traditional center, meaning he will struggle to be a true rim protector. However, he is capable of playing as the center whenever the Sixers utilize a switch-heavy lineup. Adding Vanderbilt to the rotation would also give the Sixers some insurance in the case of Georges Niang not surviving defensively in the postseason. Offensively, it would take some adjustments and a good game plan from head coach Doc Rivers, but the fit can work. Playing next to talented guards James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, both of whom can get Vanderbilt easy looks around the rim, certainly makes things easier.
The price for Vanderbilt might be over the Sixers’ price range. According to Fischer, the Jazz are looking for a first-round pick in return for Vanderbilt. The Sixers, due to prior trades and the Stepien Rule, do not have a tradable first-round pick until 2029. Utah would have to lower its asking price in order for the Sixers to have a shot at acquiring Vanderbilt.
Outside of first-round picks, the Sixers have a few different packages they could try to entice Utah with. Furkan Korkmaz, Jaden Springer and Danuel House Jr. are all available in trade talks. However, those players would likely just be viewed as salary fillers. Defensive stalwart Matisse Thybulle could also be shipped out at the trade deadline. However, giving him up for Vanderbilt might be too much for the Sixers. The Sixers own the rights to the most favorable second-round pick this upcoming draft between the Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets. The Hornets pick is currently projected to be among the top few picks in the second round. If Thybulle is off the table for Vanderbilt, the best offer the Sixers could make is Korkmaz, Springer and the Charlotte second-round pick.
Getting Vanderbilt might be an impossible task for Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey. He is young (23 years old), has a good skillset and is on a good contract. He is under contract for $4.32 million this season and $4.64 million next season. All of those things add up to him being coveted by multiple contending teams who might be able to outbid the Sixers. Vanderbilt is certainly an intriguing name, but he is likely to be outside the team’s price range. One thing is certain: Upgrading at backup center will remain a priority for the Sixers at this year’s trade deadline.