Sixers’ Eyeing Matisse Thybulle Trade to Land Potential PJ Tucker Upgrade

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Getty P.J. Tucker #17 of the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Philadelphia 76ers are in an enviable spot ahead of the February 9 trade deadline. After ripping off five straight road wins, the team sits second in the Eastern Conference, a full game up on the third-place Milwaukee Bucks.

With such momentum, it might be wise not to tinker with the team too drastically. If anything, though, the Sixers might do well to improve on the margins, making cost-effective additions to improve weak spots.

And according to Ric Bucher of Fox Sports, the Sixers intend to do just that. The weak spot: rebounding. The player on the block: Matisse Thybulle.

“The Philadelphia 76ers, league sources said, have indicated defensive specialist Matisse Thybulle is available in exchange for a rebounder,” Bucher wrote recently.

Seeing Thybulle’s name come up in trade rumors isn’t entirely surprising. The Sixers are reportedly looking at shedding salary to get under the league’s luxury tax. That means players like Thybulle ($4.4 million) and Furkan Korkmaz ($5 million) are on the hot seat.

It’s also not surprising that Philadephia is eyeing a rebounding upgrade. In just about any way you slice it, the Sixers are getting demolished on the glass. The team’s 40.7 rebounds per game are third-worst in the league. It’s a problem that has persisted since last season; the arrival of PJ Tucker to the lineup was (in theory) going to make the team a better rebounding one.

So far, however, that’s not been the case.

Spurs Interested in Thybulle Trade?

If the reporting is true, a few of the team’s pricier rotation players like Korkmaz and Thybulle might find an earlier-than-expected exit from Philly.

According to one Eastern Conference general manager. Sixers might look to move defensive Thybulle to the San Antonio Spurs, bringing back big man Zach Collins.

“San Antonio is one that has had some interest [in Thybulle]. Thybulle is a [head coach Gregg] Popovich kind of player, and they’re trying to do some reclamation projects down there,” the GM told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney. “The Sixers could take a chance on Zach Collins. They’re really looking for some depth up front. Not sure of their interest in Collins, but that would be the only guy who makes sense there.”

Collins has been good for 9.5 points and 5.8 rebounds this season as a backup in San Antonio.

Pompey: Sixers ‘Need’ to Upgrade Frontcourt

In a January 20 mailbag for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Keith Pompey was asked if he believes the Sixers need an upgrade at center behind Joel Embiid.

Answering in the affirmative, Pompey cautioned that he did not mean it as a knock on Philadelphia’s current options.

“I do think the Sixers need another big. That’s not meant to be a knock on reserve centers Montrezl Harrell and Paul Reed. Harrell can get buckets and thrives playing alongside James Harden in the pick-and-roll. Reed is (an) athletic rim protector. But Harrell (6-foot-7) and Reed (6-9) are undersized for the position. As a result, the Sixers are without a physical, big center to back up Joel Embiid like they had in the past with Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard,” Pompey said.

So far, Montrezl Harrell has cemented his place as Joel Embiid’s backup, but he is also in the midst of his worst season since his rookie year, 2015-16.

Harrell’s minus-1.8 net rating over the last 14 games (15 minutes per game) suggests he’s not the answer. Over that stretch, the Sixers have gone 10-4, suggesting Philly is winning games despite getting less than zero from its backup big.

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