PLEASE stop trying to bring former Sixers back for nostalgia’s sake.
Jrue Holiday, Robert Covington, and Dario Saric are just a few names that are routinely placed in trade machine dreams by Sixers fans, and it needs to stop. We all share the same fond memories of guys who endured the tougher years of this past decade. However, the Sixers as currently constructed are 20-8 and are (insert current standing) in the Eastern Conference. While Elton Brand and Co. should be looking to make moves to help ensure the best chance at a championship, pipe dreams of bringing guys “back home” need to be ripped from the seams.
Jrue Holiday appears to be the most popular one going around right now, as per Marc Stein, Holiday is “indeed available via trade”. More than a dozen different people on my Twitter timeline have suggestion some form of moving Al Horford for Holiday. The Pelicans would almost certainly reject that deal, and it also makes the Sixers worse. We’ll start with Jrue’s fit in Philadelphia.
Holiday is a career 35% shooter from three, which is one of the main reasons people seem to want him here. They think he can play alongside Ben as a shooter, but also be a creator and ball handler. This is absolutely false. Since joining the Pelicans in 2013, Holiday is 34% from three. Al Horford, who just missed 2 games and is still banged up, is a career 36.6% shooter from three. His past three years he has shot 35%, 43%, and 36%.
Both Holiday and Horford are elite defenders, yet both are somewhat underrated.
Holiday, mainly because he plays in New Orleans, and Horford because he was unappreciated his entire career until arriving in Philadelphia. The difference is, as currently constructed, the Sixers already have several players who should be expected to be above average to elite on ball defenders in Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, and to a lesser degree, James Ennis and Matisse Thybulle. They have fewer options both in quantity and in talent as bigger defenders, and Embiid insurance/relief. We still have nightmares of Greg Monroe, Amir Johnson, and Boban Marjanovic being the last line of defense. Horford was brought in for the exact reason of being a leader, a veteran, and a versatile defender both alongside Embiid and when he rests. Holiday would cause all those issues to rise again.
Another thing to note is that while many feared the Horford contract paying him $108 million through the 2022-23 season, Holiday is a very similar deal. The former Sixers point man is being paid $26-27 million through 2021-22. Holiday will be 32 when that contract ends. Although he has seemed to get his health on track, Holiday still has a history of injuries including a stress fracture in his right leg. Horford, who’s deal goes to age 36, is praised for his conditioning, has a clean history, and wastes very little motion or energy. I wouldn’t have much concern with either to be completely honest, but the history would seem to place at least a bit more risk on Holiday.
Holiday also doesn’t have a history of going deep into the playoffs. Somewhat surprising, Holiday has more career playoff games as a Sixer (18) than as a Pelican (12). Horford is a proven elite commodity come playoff time. Horford has 120 career playoff games, starting 119 of them. He is a career 41% shooter from three in the playoffs, with his rebounding and assists also increasing per game while maintaining his steal and block averages. Horford wasn’t brought in to dominate the regular season, something we’ve seen the past few versions of this team do to the tune of back-to-back 50+ win seasons. Horford was meant to take them to the next level in the playoffs.
What many refuse to admit, or are omitting, is that the cry for Holiday is not a flaw of Horford or of many other things Sixers related. It is yet another bad solution for the issues the Sixers routinely have because of Ben Simmons. His recent struggles include: fourth quarter scoring, turnovers, and a stubbornness to take available shots after teasing fans with a bit of range finally. As a result, fans are panicking to make a move rather than face the reality: no player coming in will fix Ben’s shortcomings, and unless he does, this team isn’t going where they were expected to anyway.
Do not take this as Simmons slander.
If you have read any of my work or listened to my pods you know I’m a believer, and maybe even a bit of an apologist. The absolute truth here and now is that Ben must figure out the issue he has that causes his drastic shifts in aggressiveness, focus, and willingness to do the things this team needs him to do to win. He cannot continue to take significant stretches off defensively, he cannot become a non-factor in the half court offense, and he can’t shy away from the ball late due to fear of being sent to the line. The most frustrating part of all of this is we’ve seen flashes this season of absolute MVP level dominance from Simmons, only to watch the next night and see the same issues we have all come to harp on repeatedly.
As far as Covington, and to a lesser degree Saric, their names are strictly brought up for nostalgia’s sake. Covington could be a great bench piece for this team, but he is viewed as a solid NBA starter and will be valued as such. He’d likely also want that role on any team. His shooting is sporadic (an upsetting career 40% from the field and essentially league average 36% from three), and he does little more offensively but chuck threes. He is a great team defender, but doesn’t solve any current issues this Sixers team has. His contract is a tremendous value and asset however, which gives him additional trade value that would be difficult for the Sixers to match. Covington is only owed $12 million next season and $13 the following.
Also, can we PLEASE stop comparing Matisse Thybulle to Robert Covington. Thybulle has already shown an uncanny ability to defend and create turnovers and is surpassing the most optimistic expectations on his three-point shooting. Thybulle is now shooting just shy of 47% from three, which won’t last, but is incredible it ever even got to this point. He averages 1.5 steals and 0.7 blocks in only 18 minutes per game, while Covington averages 1.5 and 0.8 but in 28 minutes. Thybulle is more than filling the role Covington would play IF he were here, and there is not room nor need for both. Thybulle’s upside is far beyond that of Covington, and already should be getting more proper comparisons such as Bruce Bowen, Trevor Ariza, Metta World Peace, or Danny Green.
Saric is mentioned far less than the others but is still thrown in from time to time. Saric is streaky and inefficient and we sold at the absolute peak of his value and I’m glad we did. Love the guy, miss him dearly, but he is not a piece on a championship contender.
Now, if you’d like to talk about Davis Bertans, Malik Beasley, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Alec Burks, Derrick White, Josh Hart, or several other actual helpful pieces who didn’t play here previously, could be had for a price the Sixers could pay, and could help win a title, we can have that discussion. Just know Horford stays.