Should the Philadelphia 76ers pursue Donovan Mitchell?

As the future of Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell remains up in the air, could the Philadelphia 76ers swoop in and make a move?

Now, Philadelphia 76ers fans have a very checkered past with Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. Specifically, because of the beef that he and Ben Simmons had leading up to the 2018 Rookie of the Year race. Because Simmons had to sit out of the 2017 season due to a foot injury, he was still eligible for his rookie status in the 2018 season. As a result, Simmons and Mitchell were at the top of the race, with both men taking shots at each other over social media.

Ultimately, Simmons won that battle. But, Mitchell proved that he was here to stay. Over his first three seasons, Mitchell has improved in most areas. In fact, Spida was posting 24.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game this season. Those numbers helped bring him his first career All-Star nod.

However, with the recent developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, Donovan Mitchell and his All-Star teammate Rudy Gobert have been at odds. In particular, because of Gobert’s approach prior to getting infected with COVID-19, it seems as though the duo’s relationship is damaged.

Of course, this could very well be a huge commotion with no real outcome, but the fear for Utah is still there. They may or may not need to move either Mitchell or Gobert. Now, both players would court many suitors. While Gobert is not a player I would anticipate the Sixers going after, Mitchell may be on the shortlist of targets for Philadelphia.

As we all know, the Philadelphia 76ers do not have a true secondary ball-handler on the roster. While head coach Brett Brown has tried filling that role with the likes of Josh Richardson, Trey Burke, and Raul Neto, neither has truly been able to step into the spot. So, one of the most obvious moves would simply be to bring someone in who is a proven commodity at that spot.

For the Sixers, that person could be Donovan Mitchell.

Tough Decisions

Now, it’s obvious that the Jazz wouldn’t necessarily want a guy like Al Horford or Tobias Harris for Mitchell. So, in order to pull this off, the Sixers would have to give up one of their big-ticket items in Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid. For the Sixers, this would be the hardest decision of their rebuild. Similar to the Orlando Magic in the 1990s with Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, the Sixers may have to break up their Big 2 to make this happen.

That said, the one real concern would be matching salaries. Mitchell is still on his rookie contract, so the Sixers would not be able to match salaries with Utah until Mitchell signs a max extension in 2021. That simply means that the Sixers may have one more year with the current makeup of the roster before they truly need to shake things up. But then again, who knows?

Now, between Simmons and Embiid, the most likely player to be moved would probably be Embiid. Fit and injury history would likely be the only reasons as to why that makes sense. As a diehard fan, I don’t want to even think about dealing either or, but when the opportunity presents itself, the Sixers may need to make a move for a true guard to pair Simmons.

If the Sixers dealt Embiid for Mitchell, their lineup would shift slightly. For starters, Josh Richardson would shift to the forward position. Simmons and Mitchell would be the backcourt generals. Finally, Horford would move back to his natural position at the five.

Now, what this lineup does is it creates more spacing for Simmons, he would have another proven shooter in the starting lineup, without compromising the middle. On top of that, Mitchell could handle the ball and Simmons would be able to cut without compromising his “dunker” role, as Brett Brown has designated him. The spacing would be back and the paint wouldn’t be as clogged. In a sense, this could solve a ton of the Philadelphia 76ers’ problems.

So, if the Sixers want to improve their spacing by swapping one star for another, they could make a move for Donovan Mitchell. Maybe not right now, but down the line, the Sixers may be able to make a play here. Mitchell may end up being just what the Sixers need in order to truly maximize their potential.