The Philadelphia 76ers might already be out of the Buddy Hield sweepstakes.
Many have speculated about the availability of Buddy Hield due to his apparent fallout with Kings head coach Luke Walton. Naturally, the Philadelphia 76ers have been a popular destination in trade hypotheticals, with fans giddily plugging Al Horford’s contract into the trade machine.
Alas, while Hield makes some sense on paper — he’s one of the best perimeter shooters in basketball — the Sixers may have already crossed Hield off their list of targets.
Last week, the Sixers hired Dave Joerger as a lead assistant to Doc Rivers. Joerger, who specializes in defense, has spent six years as a head coach in the NBA — three of which came in Sacramento, from 2016 through 2019. He and Hield had a publicly contentious relationship, which may not be salvageable.
Joerger is not commanding the sideline or the locker room in Philadelphia, but his presence as a loud voice of support behind Rivers could inherently ruffle Hield’s feathers. Joerger originally wanted to bench Hield, but never acted on it. Luke Walton finally benched Hield this season, and now Hield won’t return his calls.
That is a concerning pattern, and it’s fair to wonder if Hield is someone the Sixers should want any part of. Hield thinks very highly of himself, and he has a tendency to reach beyond his capacities as a player. He’s a high-volume 3-point shooter who is tailor-made for a sixth man role, but he doesn’t seem willing to embrace anything short of star treatment.
In Philadelphia, aside from playing with a coach he actively dislikes, Hield would also have to take a backseat to Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris. While Hield should thrive in that setup due to his quick trigger from deep, there’s no guarantee he would be happy as the fourth option.
Much was said about Jimmy Butler’s disruptive potential in the locker room last season. But, whereas Butler held teammates accountable and demanded accountability from the organizational higher-ups, Hield may actually cause strife in the locker room. Not because he wants to make teammates better, but because he wants to be treated as though he’s better than he actually is.
If Hield and Joerger are willing to put the past aside and work together, sure. You trade Horford for Hield and take a chance. Maybe Doc Rivers, an immensely respected voice, can get Hield to buy into a role that fits his unique skill set. Unless the Sixers have extreme confidence in that series of events, however, do not count on Hield donning PHILA across his chest next season.