The Sixers have a Matisse Thybulle dilemma in the 2022 NBA offseason

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The 2022 NBA playoffs were Matisse Thybulle’s last chance to prove his worth to the Philadelphia 76ers before becoming eligible to sign an extension.

He did, well, the opposite of that.

Thybulle was not cleared to play on the road against the Toronto Raptors in the Sixers’ first-round series because he had not been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Every time he played, his lack of a threatening jump shot overshadowed his defensive impact, as the Raptors and Miami Heat largely ignored him to send help elsewhere.

“Players who are sort of extreme one-sided players, it’s tough in the playoffs,” team president Daryl Morey told reporters of Thybulle at his season-ending press conference. . “It’s a challenge for the coaches, it’s a challenge for the players. I think for Matisse, his mission, which he knows, is how to improve in a way that makes him someone who can have more impact in the playoffs. I think he will in the future.”

With Danny Green likely to miss most or all of next season with a torn ACL and LCL, the Sixers need a fifth starter they can rely on in the playoffs, be it Thybulle or someone. else. They will have to decide if they think Thybulle will improve enough as a shooter this offseason to warrant a long-term investment in him or if they should approach that position via trade or free agency.

Thybulle started with a career-high 50 of 66 regular-season appearances this year, though he averaged just 5.7 points in 25.5 minutes and shot 31.3% from three low volume points (2.2 attempts per game). He ended up playing just 15.2 minutes per game in the playoffs and scored a total of 27 points in nine games while shooting 4 of 14 from deep.

The Washington product showed flashes of the defensive disruption that earned him a second-team All-Defensive nod last season, but he was inconsistent at this end of the field. He picked up 15 personal fouls in just 137 minutes, as the Raptors and Heat used his aggression against him and had him repeatedly bitten on the pump counterfeits.

Even if Thybulle was a closed wing plug, his negative impact on offense might offset what he brings in defense. Since he’s a career 32.4 percent three-point shooter, teams have no problem leaving him wide open to send a second defenseman in Joel Embiid and James Harden. They challenge him to shoot and believe the percentages will even out over time.

During his season-ending press conference, head coach Doc Rivers said Thybulle’s offensive limitations made it difficult to play him through the playoffs. However, he expressed confidence that the 25-year-old will make progress on his shooting consistency this summer.

“He’s working on it,” Rivers said. “I can tell you that. It’s tough. One-sided players are better in the regular season than in the playoffs. I think we all know that, but Matisse takes time. We hired the right resources, in when it comes to the staff, the shooting coaches and everyone, and more importantly, the right resource with Matisse is his work ethic.

“It’s progressive. It’s called being patient and we are. I think it makes us more patient, because he’s working on it. We’d be less patient if we didn’t think there’s was working. And the fact that he’s working at There have been improvements. He’s become a better cutter this year. He’s run better on the ground this year. And the next step is to improve his shot, which we’re all working on days. And those will be his marching orders this summer.”

Thybulle has shown more flashes as a cutter this season, especially after the Sixers acquired Harden at the trade deadline. Harden assisted on 27 of Thybulle’s 52 field goals after the All-Star break, including 21 of his 37 from inside the three-point arc. The two even showed budding chemistry as pick-and-roll partners at times during the regular season.

“The way teams play against James is quite unique, and the way they want to blitz him or force him to the right or whatever,” Thybulle told reporters in early March. “They throw a lot of things at him, and my goal is basically to force a switch or get his guy away from him. And by doing a little roll, it helps create space, and through that, he makes in somehow what he does.”

If the Sixers manage to hold on to Harden this summer, Thybulle can go into next season knowing he’ll have an elite playmaker ready to set him up for wide-opening shots. He had a defender within six feet of him on just three of his 39 three-point attempts after Harden’s debut, and he shot 38.9% on those looks. He will also need to develop his game as a small roller if the Sixers hope to run more Harden-Thybulle pick-and-roll next season.

“He’s a very capable shooter,” Green said of Thybulle on his Inside the Green Room Podcast after the season. … “It’s more just confidence. But I’m sure he will work a lot on it this summer and make a big step in that area. But I see him being a great defensive factor as always and then coming along and progressing in the attacking factor, making himself more of a two-way player.”

Given his struggles in the playoffs, it’s hard to imagine the Sixers offering Thybulle a lucrative extension this offseason. Unless he’s willing to accept a team-friendly deal, they’ll likely be okay with him playing the final year of his rookie contract next season and becoming a restricted free agent in July 2023. At this point, they could match any offer sheet he signs with another team, barring drastic changes to the league’s collective bargaining agreement by then. (The league and/or players’ association can – and likely will – withdraw from the CBA by December, which will cause it to expire after the 2022-23 season.)

If the Sixers don’t believe Thybulle will develop enough offensively to become playoff playable, they could also explore trades with him this summer. The Chicago Bulls are “a team with a known interest” in him, according to Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney.

“Bulls general manager Marc Eversley has had a fondness for Thybulle since the start of his college career in Washington, and was instrumental in pushing the Sixers to acquire him in the 2019 draft,” Deveney reported. Thursday.

Thybulle’s meager salary, however, would be a complicating factor in any profession. He earned just $2.8 million last season and is expected to earn $4.4 million next year.

Teams are limited in the amount of salary they can collect in a trade depending on how much they send and whether they are above or below the luxury tax line. Because the Sixers are over the tax threshold this season, they can’t recoup more than 125% of the salary they send in by June 30, plus $100,000.

If the Sixers dip below the tax threshold next year, they could recoup 175% of outgoing salary plus $100,000 if they send in less than $6.5 million or outgoing salary plus $5 million if they send in less than $5 million. they send between $6.5 million and $19.6 million. They couldn’t recoup more than $7.8 million if they traded Thybulle alone, which might not be enough to acquire an impact player.

The Sixers could guarantee Green’s $10 million salary for next season and package it as salary ballast with Thybulle to increase the amount they can recoup. They could also pair him with Furkan Korkmaz ($5m next season) or one of their younger players, though Green is the only mid-sized contract they have.

The other option would be to use Thybulle as a sweetener to finish the two years and $76.8 million remaining on Tobias Harris’ contract, especially if they really hope to go in search of another star this offseason. That might leave them terribly thin at the wing/forward points, but they might be able to shore up those areas with the $10.3 million mid-tier exception for non-taxpayers or the 4-year exception. $.1 million if Harden steps down and re-signs. for less than his maximum salary of $46.5 million.

Thybulle may not be the Sixers’ biggest domino this offseason — Harden gets that accolade until further notice — but what they decide to do with him could influence the rest of their roster direction.

Unless otherwise stated, all statistics via NBA.com, PBPStats, Clean the glass or Basketball Reference. All salary information via spotrac. All odds via FanDuel Sports Betting.

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