While Sixers fans continue to fire up the trade machines, it is important to keep one name out of them and that is Matisse Thybulle. The only circumstance that Thybulle would be moved would be in a potential Ben Simmons for Damian Lillard deal. Even then, Thybulle should remain untouchable.
When looking at the framework of a Simmons-Lillard deal, it is clear the Sixers would have to unload either Thybulle or Tyrese Maxey along with several first-round picks. The Blazers are still holding onto some leverage, so they will demand that at the minimum. Daryl Morey will almost certainly offer a similar package for Lillard. Ultimately, what it comes down to is choosing between Thybulle or Maxey.
When looking at Joel Embiid and his window to win, Thybulle fits into that window much better than Maxey. That is not to say Maxey will not develop over time to contribute to a championship-caliber team, but Thybulle is much further along. We saw glimpses of what both players can do in the playoffs this year, but Thybulle’s game-wrecking defense will prove to be more valuable.
Maybe it is just the recency bias of Thybulle performing at a high level in the Team Australia scrimmages, but it seems that Thybulle is turning a corner offensively. We all know the guy is an absolute menace on defense. All he needs to do is become a competent shooter from beyond the arc, and he can slide right into the starting lineup. Having him on the court for 30 minutes a game with his defensive prowess can take this team to another level defensively.
Another key element in a potential Ben Simmons deal is the fact that the Sixers are losing one of the best defenders in the league. Whoever they get back in return is not going to replace his defensive value. That would mean replacing him on defense will have to come from someone in the house. Who else is the perfect replacement than Matisse Thybulle himself? Thybulle can lockdown defenders on the perimeter and would be able to do so with Embiid looming in the paint.
Ideally, Ben Simmons learns how to shoot, and the Sixers will never come to the point where they have to decide between Thybulle and Maxey, but that is not likely. As the offseason continues to move to afford it appears the Sixers are seriously considering moving Simmons. If Simmons is the centerpiece in the deal, they will not have to move Maxey or Thybulle. However, if Damian Lillard becomes available, all bets are off. The prospect of pairing Lillard and Embiid is too good to pass up.
At some point, you mortgage the future to secure your spot as a legit title contender, and it appears the Sixers may be at that point. If Thybulle is included in a package alongside Simmons, it would not be the end of the world, but it would not be the smartest move. Of course, this conversation ends the second Lillard is confirmed to stay in Portland, but it is still one worth having.
Image: Matt Slocum/AP