What if…? 5 stars who were nearly traded to the 76ers
As we approach the final month of the 76ers’ off-season, their chances of landing superstar Damian Lillard continue to get slimmer and slimmer. If no deal occurs, it wouldn’t be the first time a star slipped through the 76ers’ hands. Philadelphia has an extensive history of nearly acquiring some of the top talents in the league.
From almost bringing in arguably the best player of all time to potentially creating one of the most electric duos in NBA history, there are a lot of ways the 76ers’ history could’ve been changed. Let’s take a look at five NBA stars who almost made their way to the City of Brotherly Love.
Philly nearly acquired MJ on two separate occasions. According to Michael Randall of the Herald Sun, the first deal was the 5th pick (Barkley), Andrew Toney, and Clemon Johnson for the 3rd pick. Now, it’s not specified who exactly turned down the deal, but it was likely Chicago who denied the swap.
Barkley is a decent consolation prize for Michael Jordan. Still, there’s genuinely no trade package that would’ve given the Bulls a decent return for MJ. The other deal discussed was also during the 1984 NBA Draft. The Sixers owner at the time, Harold Katz, was infatuated with Jordan and was willing to trade almost anything to get him on their roster.
Katz was willing to offer Julius Erving for the third overall pick. This trade would’ve been arguably the biggest in NBA history at that time. Erving was 33 at the time, averaging 22.4 points per game while making his 13th NBA All-Star Game. Imagine Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley teaming up for their entire careers in Philadelphia? That would’ve been something.
MJ and Barkley aren’t the only dynamic duo that nearly came to fruition in Philadelphia. According to Stephen A. Smith, back in 1999, the 76ers had a deal in place with Toronto to send Larry Hughes for Tracy McGrady and a first-round pick. Stephen A. broke the news at the time, but the Raptors backed out shortly after the report due to cold feet.
In his prime, McGrady was one of the most dominant players in the NBA with astounding athleticism. Pairing him with Iverson would’ve created the most exciting duo arguably in NBA history. One year after the near-move, McGrady burst onto the scene, averaging over 26 points per game with the Orlando Magic.
Right before he was moved to the Phoenix Suns, Charles Barkley was nearly traded to another Western Conference team. According to Barkley, he received word from his agent that the 76ers would be trading him to the Los Angeles Lakers for James Worthy and Elden Campbell.
At the time, Worthy was 31 years old and made his seventh and final All-Star appearance. Worthy was averaging 20 points per game at the time but began to struggle with knee problems which ended his career early. That could’ve been the reason for the trade breaking off, but Worthy would’ve still been a top name in the league during his first season in Philadelphia.
You’ll have to hear me out on this one. Many fans remember Isaiah Thomas’ incredible 2016/2017 season with the Boston Celtics, where he looked like one of the best players in the NBA. Thomas blew up the instant he arrived in Boston, being named to two All-Star games during his two full seasons with the Celtics. In his final season with the team, Thomas averaged 28 points per game before suffering a devastating hip injury that derailed his career.
Before that injury, Thomas was on track to be one of the league’s top talents. During the 2015 NBA trade deadline, the 76ers had a deal in place with the Phoenix Suns to acquire IT and draft picks for Michael Carter-Williams. Instead, the deal fell apart, and Thomas landed in Boston, where his career took off. Imagine if Thomas joined the Sixers and had that same success without ever sustaining his injury in Boston?
This story is known too well by older 76ers fans. During the 1987 NBA Draft, the 76ers landed the first overall pick through an earlier trade with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Sixers had no inclination of selecting first overall and wanted to move it for a win-now talent. Philly ended up moving the top selection to Cleveland for Roy Hinson in one of the worst trades in NBA history.
Daugherty went on to be one of the best bigs in the league at the time. During his eight seasons in the NBA, Brad was named to five All-Stars with a career average of 19 points and ten rebounds. Unfortunately, Daugherty’s NBA career was cut short in his prime due to significant back problems.
If the 76ers held onto the pick, they would’ve had another star to pair with Julius Ervin, Moses Malone, and Charles Barkley, likely cruising to another NBA Finals. Instead, they got Hinson, who was moved just a season later and out of the league just a few years after.
Mandatory Credit: NBA