With news recently coming out that the Phoenix Suns have zero interest in Markelle Fultz, what was viewed as the most likely destination for the former number 1 overall pick is now seemingly out of the equation.
We are still 2 months away from the trade deadline, but the chances of Fultz ever seeing time in a 76ers uniform ever again are fairly slim (especially considering Philadelphia seems to be doing fine without him).
So we looked at 3 potential teams that Fultz could be traded to. Although these trades wouldn’t be as mainstream as Fultz heading to Phoenix or the Lakers, these trades make sense for both teams and would put Fultz in situations to succeed.
1. Miami Heat
Trade Package: Markelle Fultz + Sacramento’s 2019 2nd round pick for Kelly Olynyk
One trade destination that hasn’t been mentioned in the mainstream media is the Miami Heat. From looking at potential landing spots for Fultz, the more I looked at Miami’s current status the more I think a trade between the 76ers-Heat would 110% be beneficial for both teams.
Goran Dragic is 32 going on 33 with declining value, and the Heat quite literally do not have a backup point guard on the roster.
The Heat likely aren’t willing to give up a 1st round pick (especially considering their 2021 unprotected 1st round pick is going to Philadelphia) but what they do have is a deep team with assets that could help a franchise trying to make a playoff run.
Kelly Olynyk would be a great fit as the starting PF and an upgrade over what the 76ers currently have. This would not be a sexy trade among the mainstream media, but Olynyk would likely be a starter immediately and would fit in great in the offense. Ben Simmons would be able to pass to him for open 3’s quite often and I think Olynyk would surprise a lot of people in this scenario.
I had Olynyk as the #77 player in the NBA last season, and although his value is down this season (#134 currently) being in a new offense under different circumstances would raise his value back up, especially in Philadelphia.
Olynyk can make outside shots, is shooting a career-high 64% from inside the 2 point line, and is a positive personality to have in a locker room. His skill set would help Philadelphia out immensely right now and I truly believe with how the team is set up he could even be a top 75 overall type talent in this scenario.
Now Philadelphia would have to take on some money for Olynyk as he makes 24 million over the next 2 seasons. But I believe this trade would be well worth the risk and would 100% make Philadelphia a better team and set them up more for postseason success.
So why do the Heat take this trade? The franchise is currently in a situation where talent wise they are good enough to maybe compete for the 8 seed but not bad enough to where they will get a top 3-5 pick. Hassan Whiteside is frustrated, and the other franchise cornerstone Dragic is entering his mid 30’s with declining value.
It’s not all bad for the Heat: Josh Richardson has emerged and his contract is looking like a huge bargain, Bam Adebayo has shown potential to be a future franchise center, and Justise Winslow has finally made serious upwards progression in 2018.
So why trade Olynyk and take on a risk in Fultz?
Well, they have James Johnson who can start at PF and this is quite simply worth the risk for the Heat. Fultz can be the 2nd string PG behind a veteran in Dragic, learn for a few months from the legend Dwyane Wade, and with Dragic’s injury history I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fultz start some games anyways.
Despite the issues with Fultz, here are 3 positive aspects about his future value:
He is still 20 years old.
Although it was very little, he DID show progression from his rookie season and did not regress.
His shot needs work, but the all-around game + athleticism has always been there and his confidence would go up in a new environment. What better environment than Miami? Just think of all the Instagram models on South Beach. Good Golly Gee Gracious!
According to the ESPN Trade Machine, this would decrease Miami’s current value by 3 wins as well. Which, could be a good thing considering a higher 1st round draft pick could help them out.
My point is, Miami really doesn’t have much to lose by this trade. This team’s ceiling is the Eastern Conference 1st Round the next couple of years the way I see it anyways, might as well take a step back for potentially glamorous future results.
Markelle Fultz could lead the Miami Heat into the future. Pat Riley should seriously think about this.
2. Detroit Pistons
Trade Package: Markelle Fultz + Shake Milton for Ish Smith + Khyri Thomas
Detroit needs a point guard for the future. Reggie Jackson is below average for a starter and is only signed through next season. In terms of making the 76ers better now, Ish Smith would fit well in the 2nd string backcourt. He’s a smooth player who tends to randomly come up in clutch situations and would be a veteran who can help this team in the playoffs immensely. His contract is expiring which would free up some room for Philadelphia to sign another option in free agency after this season.
In this scenario, Fultz would be able to learn from an amazing coach in Dwane Casey and we’ve seen him work his magic with point guards before (Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Reggie Jackson is improved from last season). He’ll also be in a situation where his all-around game and athleticism would fit incredibly well next to Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, the top frontcourt in the East.
Long-term Fultz will also be able to dish it out to Luke Kennard who looks to be one of the best long-term shooters in the NBA and would be a great fit next to Fultz.
The 76ers would be able to shed salary while making their team more prepared for a playoff run. The Pistons get a point guard for the future in a very high reward situation.
3. Orlando Magic
Trade Package: Markelle Fultz + Jonah Bolden for Terrence Ross, Wesley Iwundu, 2019 BKN 2nd Round Pick
This trade is entirely dependent on if the Magic are still in the playoff hunt before the trade deadline. The season has started well so far but this team has absolutely overachieved. If they regress to the mean, then the Magic need a long-term point guard and Fultz is an option.
With the way Orlando’s roster is set up they would likely have to give up Terrence Ross, who has had a big-time bounce-back season, in a potential Fultz trade. Again, whether this would be worth the value for the Magic or not is entirely dependent on where the franchise stands in the playoff hunt at the beginning of February.
According to the ESPN Trade Machine, this trade would decrease the value of the Magic by 6 wins so I would only make this decision in the Magic’ front office if I were absolutely certain ongoing towards a full-blown tank the last 2 months of the season.
Ross is crucial to Orlando’s success and is having the best season of his career. But he’s also on an expiring contract and Orlando is trying to build for the future. Fultz would be a big-time gamble that could pay off because this is a team that hasn’t been able to find a franchise point guard since Jameer Nelson was running the show. Pairing Fultz with “The Three Lengthateers” Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon, Mohamed Bamba, and a top 5-6 lottery pick could be a lethal combination that could set Orlando up for a potential dynasty next decade.