After coming off an All-Defensive Second Team nod, most would expect that Matisse Thybulle’s place with the Philadelphia 76ers was rock-solid.
One would also be excused if they believed that Embiid was the best defender on the team. But in reality, Thybulle was Philadelphia’s best defender last season. He finished 97th percentile or better among wings in block and rebound rate. Lineups featuring Thybulle last season gave up just 108.8 points per 100 possessions with a forced turnover rate of 15.4%, both 80th percentile or better, per Cleaning the Glass.
But for all of his otherworldly defense, Thybulle’s future in Philadelphia remains uncertain because of an equally awful offensive game. He’s failed to develop a consistent shot from deep, allowing opposing teams to essentially play four-on-five when he’s in the lineup.
As a result, Thybulle’s name has been hot on the trade market for most of the summer. But Thybulle recently opened up about his outlook on Philadelphia amid those rumors and what will certainly be a contract year for the former Washington Huskie.
Thybulle: ‘I Would Always Want to Stay in Philly’
Thybulle spoke with Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer ahead of training camp this week. The wing was candid about his hopes to stay in Philadelphia long-term, even if the feeling isn’t always reciprocated.
“‘At this point, I would always want to stay in Philly,’ he said. ‘And if it’s up to me, that’s always going to be my choice,'” Pompey wrote on September 25.
“But considering that I’ve realized the reality of how far out of my control it is, if I do get traded or something does end up happening, I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.”
Thybulle isn’t naive or immune to the trade speculation. In just about every speculated Sixers trade this summer, Thybulle’s name has been mentioned. It makes sense: opposing teams covet defensive stars like Thybulle, even if his offense is a work in progress.
But Pompey also reported that trade talks for Thybulle weren’t quite so simple.
True Extent of Potential Eric Gordon Trade Revealed
Earlier in the summer, the Sixers were reported to have interest in acquiring Rockets wing Eric Gordon. Pompey reported that Philadelphia was so keen on the Houston veteran that they dangled Thybulle as potential trade bait.
“[Thybulle] was vilified by Sixers fans and later shopped in potential trades during the offseason. The Sixers tried to acquire Houston Rockets wing Eric Gordon and were using Thybulle as an asset, even attempting to get a third team to participate, according to multiple league sources,” Pompey reported.
It’s hard to tell why the Sixers might have needed a third team involved. Perhaps Thybulle alone wasn’t sufficient enough for the Rockets. Perhaps the Rockets had no interest in Thybulle whatsoever, and the Sixers needed another team to sweeten a potential trade pot.
It’s not the first time a Sixers trade with Houston has fallen through. Two seasons ago, the Sixers were on the verge of acquiring James Harden from Houston before the Rockets ultimately sent the former MVP to Brooklyn instead.