The Philadelphia 76ers have a backup center problem. Dwight Howard has been better than advertised in short bursts, but two straight ejections make him a wild card.
The Sixers need someone who can replace the valuable minutes that Tony Bradley was giving them. The 6-foot-10 center was sent packing to Oklahoma City in the three-team deal for George Hill. It was a smart, savvy trade that filled a legitimate need for another shooter. However, the depth behind injured center Joel Embiid is now thinner than a marathon runner. Mike Scott has been forced to start there in the two games since Bradley left.
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Top 5 Sixers Targets on Buyout Market
The Sixers need to look at some potential candidates quickly as the buyout market is drying up. They already missed out on two perfect complementary players in Andre Drummond (Los Angeles Lakers) and LaMarcus Aldridge (Brooklyn Nets). Let’s take a look:
Mike Muscala: There were rumors that the Thunder might deal the 6-foot-11 center at the deadline. Oklahoma City held onto him despite the fact youngsters Moses Brown and Isaiah Roby are eating up his minutes. Muscala, who spent the 2018-19 season in Philly, is averaging a career-high 9.7 points per game while shooting 37% from three. The 29-year-old hasn’t reached a buyout agreement yet, but hasn’t played since March 14.
Otto Porter Jr.: The veteran big man was traded to the Orlando Magic in a surprise deadline deal that sent Nikola Vucevic to the Chicago Bulls. Immediately, speculation centered on Porter working out a buyout agreement. Multiple teams had already inquired about the former first-round pick (2013), although ESPN reported the Magic intend to keep him. If Porter forces the issue, he cold be a valuable piece for the Sixers. Injuries have slowed him down in recent years but he’s a guy who once averaged 17.5 points on 48.3% shooting.
Hassan Whiteside: Another intriguing big man who could be the victim of a youth movement. Whiteside has sat out back-to-back games due to a sore knee after grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds for the Sacramento Kings on March 24. He lacks a long-range jumper but the 7-footer has been a double-double machine during his nine-year NBA career, including averages of 13.4 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. It’s still unclear whether the Kings plan to part ways.
Austin Rivers: The son of Sixers head coach Doc Rivers could be a bad fit for many reasons. For starters, Rivers isn’t a center and Philly seemed to address their need for more shooters by acquiring George Hill. The other thing that stands out is his dad’s trepidation about coaching his son again. However, the kid can shoot the lights out in the gym and shooters are always welcomed. He’s at 36.4% from deep this season, plus 43% from the field.
Moe Harkless: Originally a first-round pick of the Sixers in 2012, the 6-foot-8 forward had been wasting away on the bench in Miami. He was included in the Heat package to acquire Nemanja Bjelica from the Sacramento Kings but doesn’t appear to a part of their long-term plans. Harkless has never lived up to his lofty expectations, but he’s built a reputation as a sneaky good perimeter shooter: 32.6% from three-point land and 47.8% from the field for his career.
Sixers Tried to Deal for Larry Nance Jr.
Philadelphia was one of five teams “desperately” trying to acquire Larry Nance Jr. from the Cleveland Cavaliers at the deadline. According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, the Cavaliers turned down one offer that featured multiple late first-round picks. The other teams were New Orleans, Dallas, Boston, Miami.
Nance is averaging 10.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists while holding a 48.7% field-goal percentage. The Cavaliers see the 28-year-old as an invaluable asset to their young team.
“Larry passes the ball, he rebounds, blocks shots, dunks. Larry does it all,” Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton told Fedor. “Whenever you look at the stat sheet you always see him playing a full, complete game, touching everything. That’s Larry Nance. We can count on him anytime it’s time to put that jersey on.”