Sixers Swap Tobias Harris for Notorious Embiid Rival in Proposed Blockbuster

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Getty John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks dribbles the ball against Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers.

If only the Philadelphia 76ers could put together the two halves of their season so far. To open the year, Philly was cruising offensively, gathering a top-ten offense before Harden went down with an injury. But Philadelphia’s had the league’s best defense so far in November, which coincided directly with Harden’s absence.

With everyone clicking, it’s a tantalizing proposition. But what if it could get better? In a proposed trade by Bleacher Report’s Gregg Swartz, it just might. Here’s what Swartz cooked up for the Sixers:

Philadelphia 76ers Receive: F/C John Collins, SG Bogdan Bogdanović

Atlanta Hawks Receive: PF Tobias Harris, SF Matisse Thybulle, G Shake Milton

And here’s Swartz’s rationale on the move:

“Collins is younger, cheaper, carries more upside than Harris and can’t dunk on Joel Embiid anymore if the two are teammates. Adding Bogdanović off the bench gives Philly’s second unit some added scoring and playmaking as well.”

Why Philadelphia Says Yes

Collins has seen a serious dip in production this season, no doubt a result of his minimized role in Atlanta. At 14 percent, the former Wake Forest Demon Deacon’s usage rate has never been lower. Though still a starter, much of the offense has been running through Trae Young or Dejounte Murray, while center Clint Capela is in the midst of a renaissance season of his own, further taking away touches from Collins.

But in Philadelphia, Collins would slot into Harris’ role. But where Collins shines — the paint — is also where the Sixers have run into problems in the past (see: Ben Simmons’ pairing with Joel Embiid). Collins isn’t a three-point shooter by any means: he’s connecting on just 27 percent of his 3.1 attempts per game. But Collins does excel as a screener, which the Sixers could always use more of in a lineup that, on its best day, features James Harden.

Of more interest to Philadelphia might be Bogdan Bogdanovic, the sharpshooting wing who is in the midst of a down season for Atlanta. He’s never shot worse than 37 percent from deep but is just two removed from netting 44 percent of his threes. Bringing Bogdanovic off the bench would fulfill a role thought to be taken by Danuel House. At the moment, though, Bogdanovic is still on the injured list, having not yet suited up yet this season.

It might hurt losing Thybulle, whose defense has been a key reason why the Sixers have clawed their way to the top of the defensive pile in November. But Thybulle is a playoff liability; Bogdanovic scorched the Sixers two seasons ago in the playoffs. Unfortunately, that’s the tradeoff Philadelphia must swing in order to clear Tobias Harris’ cap space.

No Maxey, No Problem for the Philadelphia 76ers

The best news for Philadelphia in this trade is that the Sixers get to keep their star player Tyrese Maxey. Recently, an Eastern Conference executive broke down what the Sixers would have to get back in return for Maxey.

And let’s just say, John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic are not those players.

“But they’d need to get a star if they were to package, say, (Tobias) Harris and Maxey together. Not that Toronto would do it but someone like (Pascal) Siakam, an All-Star type of player.”

Barring an unforeseen trade for some superstar, the Sixers would be wise to keep Maxey in the fold. He not only represents Philadelphia’s current playoff hopes, but his youth could singlehandedly keep Philadelphia’s playoff window open a little longer, especially with the ever-aging James Harden and PJ Tucker on the roster.

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