Zach Lavine is not the answer for the 76ers
A few months ago, my friend and Co-Host of Process to Progress Kevin McCormick proposed a trade target. The acquisition he had in mind was the Sixers going after Zach Lavine this offseason. Since then it has caught some steam and more people have brought it up as a possible target this offseason including national media outlets such as the Bleacher Report.
Looking into this deeper, there’s no doubt this move would be a horrible decision for the Sixers. To put it simply, there are just better options available (Hint: Buddy Hield). The overall cost of what it would take to obtain Zach Lavine and what his role would be on the Sixers isn’t right either.
Zach Lavine in Chicago has been ridiculously overhyped for what he brings to the table. Yes, he had a very high scoring season with the Chicago Bulls but again, it’s the 22-43 Chicago Bulls. Outside of Lavine, no other player averaged higher than 14 PPG this season. The Bulls are one of the worst teams in basketball. Lavine would be 26 by the end of next season. He currently is locked in a 4 year $78 million contract.
While his 45% from the field and 57% True Shooting % are positive at first glance that doesn’t tell the whole story. When Lavine is on the court, the Bulls Net Rating is -5, while when he is off the court it is a plus .3 (per Hoops Habit). Lavine is a turnstile on defense and has been for a while. For a team mainly built around defense in Philadelphia, throwing him on the court would tear that whole idea down and critically mess up the Sixers.
Also, a big question for Lavine is his very shaky injury history. In 2017 Zach tore his left ACL in his last season with Minnesota. In 2019 his season was cut short with problems in his right knee. For a player that thrives off their athleticism, seeing several seasons cut short in a young career because of knee problems is very unsettling. He is likely a player that will age very horribly as he gets older with these issues.
Really, the most important negative to the entire conversation is that Zach Lavine’s price tag is too high. By bringing him in, the Sixers would likely have to more a lot more.
Bleacher Report proposed a deal centered around Josh Richardson, Matisse Thybulle, and Mike Scott. While I’d love to see Mike Scott be moved the other two are far too much. The drop off from Lavine to Richardson isn’t as far as many think. J-Rich is a player around the same age on a much better contract and does exactly what is needed from Philadelphia. Shooting only 2% worse from the field and being a far superior player on defense, Richardson is criminally underrated around the league. On top of that, Matisse Thybulle is such a defensive presence in his rookie season he is bound to be an elite defender in the league. Matisse while often denounced for his offensive ability does shoot 35% from 3, only 3% less than Lavine.
If you want Lavine, you’ll be taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back with this trade. You get the illusion of a good scorer who is a few % higher in FG percentage on a far worse team, ZERO defensive ability, and major injury history, for two of your best defenders in Thybulle and J-Rich who are on incredibly good contracts.
If someone sits here and thinks to move those guys for Lavine is a good move I question their basketball knowledge. Buddy Hield allows you to add another catch and shoot guy without having to move those assets. A move for Hield would most likely include dumping a bad contract in Al Horford. But in reality, you really don’t need either with the rise of Shake Milton if he lives up to expectations.
If you’ve made it this far, then you obviously are aware I wouldn’t touch Lavine for what it would cost with a 10-foot pole.