With the Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James sweepstakes heating up, several teams are looking to add cap space with the hopes of luring either star plus a supporting cast to their city. Finding a trade partner to take on cap is normally quite difficult, but with the Philadelphia 76ers having over $32 million in cap space and looking to pile up assets, they have become involved in talks with several teams about doing just that.
The first team that the Sixers have reportedly talked with is the Houston Rockets, who are looking to unload Jeremy Lin’s $8.4 million cap hit so that they can add another max contract, perhaps Anthony or Chris Bosh, next to Dwight Howard and James Harden. Given Sam Hinkie and Daryl Morey’s past together, such negotiations make even more sense.
The same ESPN report notes that the Sixers would only take on Lin’s contract if the Rockets package at least one future first-rounder with him. That type of deal would be beneficial to the Sixers on two ends: first, they would be adding future draft assets, which is always important, and second, they would be getting a mentor for reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams at the point guard position. Lin averaged 12.5 points and 4.1 assists last year for Houston in a down year.
The Sixers have also had talks with Lin’s former team, the Knicks, about taking on Amar’e Stoudemire’s $23.4 million cap hit in order to acquire former first-round pick Iman Shumpert, according to Stephen A Smith of ESPN. This trade makes far less sense for the Sixers from an asset perspective; while Shumpert, 24, used to be an enticing young guard prospect, his previous ACL injury seemed to limit his impressive athleticism last year and he struggled in the Melo-dominant Knicks offense. He averaged just 6.7 points and 1.7 assists per game while shooting a mediocre 33.3% from beyond the arc. Advanced stats also confirm his regression: his .048 win shares per 48 minutes were also relatively low, equal to that of the Sixers’ stop-gap 2-guard from last year, Hollis Thompson.
Stoudemire’s egregious cap number and the Knicks’ apparent desperation to re-sign Anthony is definitely leverage for the Sixers, but leverage for what exactly? At most they could get Shumpert and the Knicks’ 2018 first-rounder—the first New York can trade—for taking on Stoudemire’s contract.
If Brett Brown and Sam Hinkie believe that a change of scenery will benefit Shumpert greatly, and that he can be a starting shooting guard on a championship-contending team, then they would pull the trigger, but the Lin deal seems more likely from financial and basketball standpoints.