As deadline looms, Thybulle talks close bond with Korkmaz, trade rumors


BOSTON — If Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz are still on the same team after Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline, there’s a good chance they’ll keep shooting jumpers together. 

If not, day-to-day life will be considerably different for two 25-year-old Sixers wings who have developed a strong bond through their work. 

Thybulle expects he’ll be Korkmaz’s friend for a long time.

“I think so. I want to go visit him in Turkey someday,” he told NBC Sports Philadelphia with a smile Wednesday night in Boston before the Sixers’ matchup with the Celtics. “That would be pretty fun.”

The Thybulle-Korkmaz friendship has indeed always appeared heavy on laughs. They’ve provided levity and mutual support through thrilling career nights, internal competitions, erratic minutes, and strange, unpredictable twists in fortune. 

“Furk’s a great dude,” Thybulle said. “He’s always been a positive force and someone who’s willing to joke around, not take themselves too seriously. I’ve definitely always just gravitated toward him. Unfortunately, it’s just … a reality of your line of work that you aren’t going to spend your whole career with the same players.”

Korkmaz has requested to be traded, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey reported, while Thybulle has often featured in trade rumors over the last couple of years. 

Thybulle’s minutes were at a career low of 12.1 per game entering Wednesday’s contest. Sixers head coach Doc Rivers has said that “dynamic” defense is essential for the University of Washington product to warrant minutes. The two-time All-Defensive selection clearly checks that box quite frequently, but he’s yet to recapture a more significant role. Rivers has seemed to view the additions of deflection magnet De’Anthony Melton and PJ Tucker as decreasing the need for Thybulle's defense on opposing stars. 

Thybulle has flashed offensive progress at times — sneaky cuts around Joel Embiid post-ups; zero-hesitation catch-and-shoot threes; sprinting into free space on the fast break; reducing his turnovers to a mere seven all season in 581 total minutes — but he has not showcased dramatic improvement by any means. He’s taken 61 threes and made 20 of them, which comes out to 32.8 percent. 

For a player aspiring to be more confident, Korkmaz has undoubtedly been a nice teammate (and friend) to have around.

“He’s usually my shooting partner in workouts and stuff,” Thybulle said. “Being around that kind of energy, I think it’s contagious. … He’s been a pro since he was 16 or something. When you’ve been playing against grown men since you were a kid, to make it through that you have to find a way to believe in yourself when it probably doesn’t look like you belong.”

As for himself, Thybulle said he feels “in a good place confidence-wise” and is focused on complementing high-usage, highly skilled players like Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. 

Will that remain his offensive role beyond Wednesday night? 

Thybulle doesn’t plan to be locked in on all the rumors. 

“Ultimately, my agents, we’ve talked and I told them I don’t really want to hear anything about speculation,” he said. “But if something is for sure, let me know and we can deal with it when it comes. That’s just kind of how it’s been.”

It seems fair to assume he’ll chat about whatever happens with Korkmaz.

“He was more quiet when I first met him,” Thybulle said of his first impressions. “His English wasn’t as good and he kept to himself a little more. But he’s always been a really, really good guy.”

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