Sixers need guard help but Nerlens Noel-Jeff Teague trade not the answer


It's no secret the Sixers have a logjam in their frontcourt.

Drafting big men in the first round of three straight drafts will do that. Throw in the possibility of Dario Saric (who is more of a four than a three) coming from overseas and the likelihood the Sixers take the 6-foot-10 Ben Simmons at No. 1, and you've got a crowded, muddled rotation.

The report the Sixers were discussing a possible Nerlens Noel for Jeff Teague swap with the Atlanta Hawks should come as no surprise. With that said, there is no way the Sixers should pull the trigger on that move.

The Sixers love Ish Smith. I love Ish Smith. You probably love Ish Smith. But he's a backup point guard. It's a position the team unquestionably needs to upgrade (especially with Smith being a free agent), but is Teague the right guy?

From a pure basketball standpoint, it makes sense. The Sixers have a desperate need in the backcourt with a wealth of young talent in the frontcourt. 

Teague by all accounts is a fine player. He was an All Star in 2014-15. In his last three seasons, he's averaged 16 points, 6.5 assists and 1.3 steals in 30.4 minutes per game. He also has the ability to hit an outside shot. He shot a career-high 40 percent from three last season. He also ran the show for a team that won 60 games and made the Eastern Conference Finals in 2015.

At worst, Teague is a slightly above average starting point guard in the NBA. That would be a significant upgrade for the Sixers. The issues here are not with Teague as a basketball player. It's the surrounding variables.

If it were to be a "straight up" deal, it's shaky on the surface. A 27-year-old (he'll turn 28 this week) point guard, who we'll say is a top-15 player at his position, for a 22-year-old center who flashes elite rim protection abilities. 

Noel doesn't have great touch. I'm not sure who feels more uncomfortable when he handles the ball: Noel or me watching. His hands are definitely lacking. But his value runs much deeper. For this piece, I'm choosing to look at Noel's rookie year and not the disastrous experiment with Jahlil Okafor last season. 

For all of Noel's flaws on the offensive end, we lose sight of what he is, and what he could possibly be, on the defensive end of the floor. As a 20-year-old rookie coming off of major knee surgery and sitting out an entire season, Noel had a successful rookie season. He's been a disruptive force on the defensive end, averaging 1.7 blocks and 1.8 steals in 142 career games.

With Noel being so young, it's realistic to say he's only scratching the surface of his elite defensive abilities. Teague is what he is at this point. Is there a discernible skill he has that you would consider elite?

If you wanted to make an argument Teague is more valuable from a basketball viewpoint, I'd listen. I wouldn't necessarily agree, but I'd listen. What there is no disputing is the terrible position the Sixers would be in next offseason.

Let's say the trade goes down. A player-for-player swap. Teague will be in the last year of his contract. What an absolute perfect time for him to enter free agency and get grossly overpaid. That's great for him. That wouldn't be so great if the Sixers acquired him. Teague also has the option to walk. I'm not sure which is worse: giving Teague way too much money or essentially giving up Noel for nothing.

They'd give up Noel, who would still be a restricted free agent after this season, meaning the Sixers — or Hawks in this instance — would have the right of first refusal. This gives the team that owns Noel's rights another year to evaluate him. 

Teague's age might actually be the biggest issue. As mentioned, Teague will turn 28 this week. Meaning, by the time his next contract starts, he'll be 29. Meanwhile, the rest of the Sixers' core — Embiid, Saric, Okafor and Simmons or Brandon Ingram — will be 23 or younger. 

Sure, it's possible Teague could help provide veteran leadership and help the development of the young forwards, but how old will he be when you're ready to compete for a championship let alone a playoff spot?

If the Sixers pull the trigger on a deal for a guard using one of their big men, that would make sense. That guard just shouldn't be Jeff Teague.

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