The basketball world was rocked on September 1 when the Utah Jazz sent Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a bevy of players and draft picks. Everyone converged on the trade, including the Philadelphia 76ers.
And amidst the handshaking, prognosticating, and celebrating going down in Cleveland, the Sixers kept things nice and simple.
“basketball,” the Sixers tweeted on September 1.
Is it a comment on the ever-changing nature of the game? Or how fast life comes at you? Or is it something deeper, like how basketball unites us all under a paradigm of shared values like selflessness (passing), success (scoring), and independence (the rise of player empowerment)?
Maybe that’s a little too deep.
In all likelihood, the Sixers’ tweet is just one of the thousands of comments that hit social media after the trade.
Should the Sixers Enter the Utah Jazz Firesale?
One element that was left entirely unambiguous by the trade was the fact that Utah is clearly open for business. That’s been the case now for most of the summer, especially after the team offloaded perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert.
Even though Mitchell and Gobert, the team’s two undisputed stars, are now gone, there are still some solid pieces left over.
The list includes Rudy Gay, Jordan Clarkson, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Mike Conley. And according to Liberty Ballers’ Paul Hudrick, it’s Clarkson that makes perfect sense on this Sixers team.
“Clarkson is a walking bucket, as the kids say,” Hudrick wrote for Liberty Ballers on September 2. “Since 2018-19, he’s averaged 30.9 points per 100 possessions. That kind of microwave scoring is perfectly suited for a sixth-man role. He’s also audacious, putting up 12.8 threes per 100 possessions over that span — hence the nickname [Flamethrower]. He has the ability to score on all three levels and do so at a high level on any given night.”
Clarkson would immediately add a scoring splash to a Sixers bench starved of it last season.
But according to Sixers insider Austin Krell, it’s not Clarkson who the Sixers would likely target, but rather Rudy Gay.
The finances do work out a little easier for Gay compared to Clarkson. The former is set to earn around $6.5 million next season as opposed to Clarkson’s $14.3 million. But if there’s anyone capable of making the finances work, it’s salary cap wizard Daryl Morey.
Could Mike Conley Be the Backup Point Guard?
Mike Conley is another veteran name unlikely to stick around the rebuilding Jazz. He’s also a player that has figured prominently in Sixers trade proposals dating back to last summer’s Ben Simmons saga.
At this point in his career, Conley is likely no longer a starting-caliber floor general. And given the Sixers’ current backcourt options in Tyrese Maxey and James Harden, it’s hard to imagine Conley cracking the starting side. But he’s only one season removed from his lone All-Star nomination and started 72 games for Utah last season. Further, he managed over nine assists and 23 points per 100 possessions last season.
Could Conley alleviate the playmaking concerns on a bottom-four bench unit? No doubt. Is it worth paying him almost $50 million over the next two seasons to do so? Probably not.