‘This one hurts’: Aussie NBA star traded
Australian big man Thon Maker is headed to the Detroit Pistons and Ben Simmons' Philadelphia 76ers are set to add elite Los Angeles Clippers forward Tobias Harris to bolster their chances of claiming the NBA title.
Maker has been pushing for a trade from the Milwaukee Bucks despite the team holding the best record in the NBA.
The Pistons, who according to ESPN are offering forward Stanley Johnson for the athletic, 216cm tall Maker, are in ninth in the weak Eastern Conference and may miss the playoffs.
Maker wants more court time after watching his minutes dwindle at the Bucks since the arrival of head coach Mike Budenholzer.
The West Australian's urge to prove his value comes as he eyes signing a potentially huge rookie contract extension at the end of the season.
Maker's pending departure rocked the Bucks' leader Giannis Antetokounmpo. "Thon is like my little brother, this one hurts more than any trade that happened that I've been a part of but this is the business we work in," he told ESPN.
The Pistons and Bucks are reportedly "finalising" the trade ahead of Friday's deadline.
Meanwhile, the 76ers, fresh from a 119-107 home court thumping by Eastern Conference rival Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, have agreed to trade impressive rookie guard Landry Shamet, forwards Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala and future first-round draft picks to the Clippers for Harris.
He was the 76ers' main target, but they also get 221cm giant Boban Marjanovic and forward Mike Scott from the LA side.
The trade will give the 76ers a "Big Four" with Harris joining All-Stars Simmons, Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler for a legitimate shot of not only claiming the Eastern Conference title, but talent to challenge Western Conference powers Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets for the championship.
The 76ers added Butler in their first blockbuster trade earlier in the season. The team can see a path to the NBA championship this season and are willing to give up potential star Shandry and their draft picks.
Harris and Butler both become free agents at the end of the season and could leave the 76ers.