Bill Simmons and Mark Titus discussed the NBA lottery on Simmons’ most recent podcast, and after 11 minutes of sucking off Markelle Fultz, Simmons brought up the possibility of the Sixers trading up to get him:
“I still wonder if it makes sense for Philly to try to trade up to 1. I know that [the Celtics] have really, really liked [Fultz] all season. I also know that they’re gonna turn it into whatever the best asset it can be. So, if, I don’t know, Philly goes to them and says we’ll give you number three, and we’ll also give you this, this, this and this to switch spots with us, this is a great draft, like I’m pretty sure the Celtics could talk themselves into Josh Jackson at number three. So, you know, I’m not one to rule anything out. The one thing I wouldn’t do if I was them, because I got this question a lot yesterday – would you flip the pick for Jimmy Butler or Paul George? – I just wouldn’t do it because you’re paying those guys like $20 million per year, maybe even more, whereas like Fultz, to have somebody who’s this good under contract for like $4 million per year, I think that’s the best asset you can have. If you have a guaranteed guy who can give you production and you’re not paying him aynthing, I’d much rather have that. Would Paul George really make the difference for them short-term in the next two years with LeBron playing this way? I don’t think he would.”
The audio of that portion of the exchange is here.
Maybe it’s not that crazy after all. Fultz is unquestionably the best player in the draft. He is the only one whom you could say fits perfectly with the Sixers. That’s why it was so disappointing when their logo was on the card with pick number three. Any of Josh Jackson, Malik Monk, Jayson Tatum or De’Aaron Fox – or Kyle Lowry for that matter – would represent the Sixers compromising in some way.* If there’s anyone who has the assets to move up and get a deal done, it’s the Sixers. Never mind that the Celtics were constantly linked to Boston street fighter Jahlil Okafor in trade rumors.
Everyone is convinced that Fultz and Isiah Thomas could play together – both players have said as much – but the Celtics don’t need a guard, and Josh Jackson, Okafor and [insert picks] could be more beneficial to them. The Sixers have so many assets that they can afford to overspend a little to get a franchise guard like Fultz. Hell, with Embiid, Simmons and Fultz, you could argue that the Sixers wouldn’t need any of those extra picks they’ve obtained. Also, having a guy like Fultz, as close to a sure-thing as there is in this draft, provides insurance against Embiid or Simmons having essentially a career-threatenting injury, because you’d still be left with two potential stars. Fultz absolutely makes the most sense for the Sixers, and now Simmons’ somewhat loosely-sourced speculation has me all sorts of soaked.
*Jackson can’t shoot. Tatum is a good scorer but not super athletic, might not have a ton of upside, and doesn’t fit with the Sixers’ offense. Fox also can’t shoot. Monk would be a reach at three. And Lowry is old and expensive.