NBA Free Agency opens up at 6 P.M. ET this evening. After a draft night that saw the organization address several key needs, it’s a quick turn around to free agency. This article will take a look at team needs and possible targets.
The team’s roster at the moment is as follows: (* – Not officially announced)
- PG: Ben Simmons – Shake Milton – Tyrese Maxey
- SG: Danny Green* – Seth Curry – Terrance Ferguson* – Zhaire Smith – Isaiah Joe
- SF: Matisse Thybulle
- PF: Tobias Harris – Mike Scott – Paul Reed
- C: Joel Embiid
- PG: Raul Neto
- G Alec Burks
- G Glenn Robinson III
- G Furkan Korkmaz
- SF Ryan Broekhoff
- C/PF: Norvel Pelle
- C: Kyle O’Quinn
The team is currently $31,514,963 over the league salary cap (according to Spotrac). They currently only have the taxpayers MLE to spend which is valued at $5.71 million (this is the annual amount of salary per year they can offer).
The 76ers are currently $4.4 million over the NBA’s $138,928,000 tax apron, which restricts them from having access to the full MLE, which is valued at $9.25 million. If the team can shred some salaries before or during the NBA’s free agency period, it could open up some flexibility as to players they may target.
Potential Trade Pieces
As stated the way for the Sixers to get under the NBA’s tax apron is to move salaries.
Three prime candidates in my opinion are: Zhaire Smith and Mike Scott.
Smith current base salary: $3,204,600
Scott’s current base salary: 5,005,350
The 76ers also received a trade exception in the Al Horford trade, that’s valued at $8.2 million.
Daryl Morey will need to get creative today in the trade market to get to that full MLE.
After the draft the Sixers current needs are:
- Backup Center
- Small Forward (starting Caliber if possible)
- Veteran point guard
- Stretch Forward
Free Agency Targets
Daryl Morey has said he expects the Sixers to be active in free agency but has stated that the team WILL NOT be chasing top free agents. The key will be to target complementary pieces to surround Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. The primary concern is fit. With the 76ers currently only having the taxpayers MLE, we’re going to look at targets from that lens.
- Nerlens Noel
The former 76ers first round pick is back on the market and reportedly, would welcome a return back to the City of Brotherly Love. I’ve been told by a person in the know to, “keep an eye on Noel.” If he does indeed return, Noel would immediately slot in as the backup to Joel Embiid.
Noel would fit in nice with the pace themed offense that Ben Simmons likes to run and as a tenacious blocker of shots, Noel would mesh great with the defensive minded staff that the 76ers have brought on.
If Doc Rivers recruiting skills can get Noel to take a 2-year $3.7 or $4 million, it would be a great addition to the team’s depth.
- JaMychal Green
A former player under Doc Rivers may make his way to Philadelphia. As a stretch 4, who is also be able to play the 3, Green offers some versatility both defensively and offensively for the 76ers.
Green declined his $5 million player option which may indicate, he anticipates receiving a more lucrative deal in free agency. This is where having a coach with the cache of a Doc Rivers comes in. Rivers would be able to sell Green on the culture and product he, Elton Brand and Daryl Morey are building in Philadelphia.
As for the fit, Green can stretch the floor as he is a career 37.4% 3-pt FG shooter and he can guard positions 3-5.
- D.J. Augustin
D.J. Augustin is probably the best backup point guard option in free agency. Augustin would likely take up the Sixers full $5.7 million MLE, but he’d be worth in. As a 12 year veteran, Augustin has been around the block a bit, but he is still a valuable piece to any team’s bench.
Augustin averaged 10.5 points in 25 minutes per game last season with the Orlando Magic. Augustin shot .399 from the field and .348 from 3 last year. Augustin would be a nice veteran for Doc Rivers to have around rookie Tyrese Maxey and Ben Simmons in the locker room.
Augustin ranked in the 73rd percentile in pick and roll efficiency and was actually 2nd in the league in frequency as the pick and roll ball handler. Augustin would be a pretty adequate get for the 76ers bench.
- Rodney Hood
Rodney Hood is coming off of a torn achilles injury. Last season he played just 21 games before the injury occured, averaging 11.0 ppg on 50.6% shooting.
Hood is a special case because normally, he wouldn’t be a target for a team with as little money as the 76ers but considering the injury he’s coming off of, the full MLE may be in play for Hood.
Hood fits the mold of a Daryl Morey style aquisition also. Think back to his time in Houston with acquiring players such as, Ben McLemore, Daniel House, Trevor Ariza, and Michael Beasley. All wing players who can put the ball into the basket from deep.
This is another instance where Doc Rivers recruiting ability will be crucial to sort of wooing free agents.
- Carmelo Anthony
This would be a pretty good addition to this 76ers team. Carmelo Anthony showed that at 36 years old he can still produce on the offensive end. Anthony averaged 15.4 ppg on 13.5 shots per game shooting an efficient 43% from the field.
Sure Anthony and Morey have a past, but so do Sixers GM Elton Brand and Anthony, who are reported to have an excellent relationship. Also, the Sixers were reported to be interested in Anthony last season. Yet again, this is an instance in which Doc Rivers recruiting skills are a HUGE advantage for the 76ers. Anthony is another full MLE candidate.
Anthony would likely start, at least at the beginning of the season, at the 3. Which would create a lot of spacing for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Daryl Morey’s theme of the off-season so far has been fit and Anthony would continue that.
- Austin Rivers
Once Doc Rivers was hired and his son opted out of his contract in Houston, there inevitably was the connection to the 76ers. On paper, Rivers fits well with the 76ers as a backup combo guard who can handle the ball in pick and roll sets as well as create his own shot but it might be best if Rivers didn’t come back to play for his father.
This is evident because in the past when Rivers played for his father in Los Angeles with the Clippers there were locker room chemistry issues. According to Michael Eaves, Clippers players felt, “Austin acted entitled because his dad was both the coach and the President of Basketball Operations.”
If that is the case, regardless of fit, I’d steer clear of Austin Rivers.
- Kyle Korver
The simple reasoning here is 3-pt shooting. Korver could play that J.J. Redick role that Doc Rivers had Redick in back in Los Angeles and they could also implement some dribble handoff sets from Brett Brown between Korver and Embiid.
The 38 year old Korver shot 43% from 3 last season in 16.6 minutes per game. Korver is a vet minimum candidate.
- Ersan Ilyasova
Ilyasova is a candidate for the same reason as the player listed above: shooting.
Ilyasova would return to Philadelphia in a bench role yet again. Ilyasova would likely command a little bit over the vet minimum in terms of salary. Considering he had the highest points per game numbers of his career in Philadelphia (14.3), I think it’s safe to say he fits with the team, specifically Ben Simmons.
- Bryn Forbes
Forbes is probably my favorite target for the 76ers this off-season in free agency. He fits extremely well and is cost efficient.
Forbes is a career 40% shooter from 3 and likely wouldn’t cost the full MLE. The thing that most exciting about Forbes is definitely his fit with both Embiid and Simmons. Forbes shot 39.5% on 4.5 catch and shoot threes per game last season.
Sign and Trade targets include:
- Malik Beasley
- Denzel Valentine
- Bogdan Bogdanovic
This free agency period for the 76ers will ultimately come down to fit. This is where having guys like Doc Rivers and Elton Brand who have connections in the league will be a HUGE advantage to the organization. The current makeup of the 76ers is the clearest path they’ve had in years. There is now direction and structure within the organization and that pathway becomes much more defined tonight.