COMMENTARY | If the Philadelphia 76ers are to make the playoffs they could use some reinforcements before the NBA's trade deadline on February 21.
The most logical move would be to acquire some help in the post. If the team is indeed a buyer at the deadline, there is rumored to be plenty of help at that position on the market.
The following is a list of players that could potentially be on the move that should interest the Sixers. There are various degrees of skill level and contract situations with the players listed and it will be interesting to see if the 76ers kick the tires on any of them.
The 26-year-old, 7-foot-1-inch center is struggling to find playing time in Denver. He also has an expiring contract. In an FSN Florida article by Chris Tomasson, Mozgov says, "I think it's logical, you can see that, trading me."
In 9.6 minutes this season he is averaging 2.6 points per game and 3.0 rebounds per game. Last season, in 15.6 minutes per game he averaged 5.4 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game. He is a big body that has shown flashes of brilliance on the court.
Can he perform consistently with more minutes? In three seasons that still isn't a sure thing, and he should be entering his prime. But he could improve the team's rebounding and post presence.
J.J. Hickson, Portland Trail Blazers
At one point early in his career, the Cleveland Cavaliers thought so highly of Hickson that they wouldn't trade him to Phoenix for Amar'e Stoudemire.
Hickson has been a strong player since arriving in Portland last season. This year he is averaging 12.4 points per game and a career-high 10.9 rebounds per game. A CSNNW.com story from Chris Haynes says that sources have said that teams have expressed an interesting in trading for him.
The problem is that Hickson is in control. Thanks to his Bird Rights, he has the power to veto any deal and should he approve a trade he would lose his Bird Rights. Would Hickson be willing to do that in Philadelphia?
That remains to be seen, but the 76ers should do their due diligence to look into the possibility.
Last season, the "Polish Hammer" averaged career-highs in points per game (15.4), rebounds per game (10.0), and blocks per game (1.5). His points per game average increased every season and his blocks per game average has gone up this season (1.9).
But in November, a story on ArizonaSports.com said that Gortat told a Polish website that he was displeased with the team's style of play and his role.
Gortat is a hard working post player that is strong and performs well in the pick-and-roll, the style of offense Philadelphia plays in.
He is under contract for this season and next season and could provide the 76ers with the internal toughness they need.
A CBSSports.com story from Ken Berger says that Smith's agent met with team GM Danny Ferry about frustrations with the team's recent slump. Smith was recently suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team. Things are not going well between the Hawks and Smith, who will be a free agent after this season.
Smith is a very athletic player that can jump through the roof. He's exciting to watch. He's also averaging 8.0 rebounds per game in his career.
While he would be an extremely exciting addition to the 76ers and fans would love to see him run the court with Jrue Holiday, it's hard to imagine the team having enough young talent to send to Atlanta to make them satisfied with moving Smith. There's also no word whether Smith would resign with the Sixers after this season. Philadelphia should need some kind of assurance that Smith would be more than a rental, especially after going through the current Andrew Bynum situation.
In December, ESPN's Marc Stein wrote that the Jazz were interested in moving Jefferson before the trade deadline because they want to give more minutes to youngsters Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter and the team wants to get some compensation for Jefferson because he will be a free agent after this season.
Jefferson is an extremely durable player (something of an anomaly in Philadelphia) who is averaging 17.1 points per game this season and 9.8 rebounds per game. He's averaged 9.0 rebounds per game over the course of his career.
Stein says Utah wants a front-line starting point guard but it seems unlikely the team would trade away Jrue Holiday. They have no real depth at that position after Holiday. Philadelphia would also have to pay a pretty big price to keep Jefferson past this season; he's making $15 million this season and could be looking for similar money in the offseason.
Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
It's been no secret that Gasol has been shopped by the Lakers over the past season and a half. Numerous teams have been involved in talks for him, including the 76ers, who were rumored to be talking about a Gasol-Andre Iguodala swap over the summer according to Philadelphia Inquirer writer John Mitchell.
Gasol has struggled this season with nagging injuries, playing time and Mike D'Antoni's system. He's averaging his lowest points per game average (12.7) of his career. He is averaging 8.2 rebounds per game, a good number. A change of scenery may really be what Gasol needs. He also worked well in the post with current (injured) Sixer Andrew Bynum.
The biggest issue is the money. Gasol is making $19 million this season. A tweet from Yahoo! Writer Adrian Wojnarowski says that the Lakers don't want to take back any long-term contracts. Making up $19 million from players with contracts that expire within the next two seasons and making the deal enticing for the Lakers could be a very complicated matter for Philadelphia.
On ESPN, Love is one of David Thorpe's "25 best players under the Age of 25" (No. 8). He is a rebounding machine, averaging 14.0 rebounds per game (in 18 games) this season and 12.2 rebounds per game for his career. He also has averaged 17.3 points per game over his career and can spread the floor with his three-point shooting. A frontcourt with Love and Bynum could be an incredibly scary match-up.
Love and Minnesota also are having their issues. He has previously voiced his dissatisfaction to Wojnarowski with the team giving him only a four-year contract extension instead of five - - with an opt out clause after the third season - - and with the team not making the playoffs and wondering if they have plans for the future.
Love has recently been rumored in a three team trade that would send Dwight Howard to Brooklyn, Gasol to Minnesota, and Love to the Lakers. It's a possibility.
But Love is under contract for several years and is an immensely talented player. Minnesota is in control right now, and what would the Timberwolves front office expect in return for the forward? One would anticipate it would be a heavy sum and Philadelphia does not seem like the likeliest team to have enough to offer the Wolves.
Phil Shore lives in New Jersey and is the creator and editor of Shore Thing Sports blog. He's been published in The Boston Globe, Philly.com, FoxSoccer.com, LaxMagazine.com and New England Lacrosse Journal.