Philadelphia 76ers: Assessing potential offseason options

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

As the Philadelphia 76ers prepare for an early offseason, let’s take a look at the teams impending free agents, and who could slot in to replace them.

After four bounces in Game 7, the Philadelphia 76ers, unfortunately, find themselves with only five players under contract (excluding player options) going into the offseason. But with so many players hitting free agency, what kind of team will Elton Brand be bringing back next season?

In the past two seasons, the Sixers have won 50 games for the first time in 30 years, which could be used to argue to keep the team mostly intact. At the same time, it can also be argued that the combination of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are the main reason for that success and the rest can be replaced.

Right now, the Sixers are estimated to have around $69 million to spend in free agency. Even with a probable Jimmy Butler max contract worth roughly $190 million deal would leave the Sixers with about $31 million to spend.

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With that being said, who should the team target in free agency?

Starting off with players who are most likely staying put; Simmons, Embiid, and Butler.

Embiid was able to lead the team in points per game with 27.5 as well as rebounds with 13.6. Butler also proved his worth showing up third in scoring for the team with 18.7 points per game, and a team-leading 1.9 steals a game. Simmons was able to put up 16.9 points a game, 8.8 rebounds, and a team-leading 7.7 assists.

Like Simmons and Embiid, Zharie Smith, Jonah Bolden, and Jonathon Simmons are under contract for at least next year, making them likely they stay put.

However, with Jonathon Simmons’ best stat being 6.5 points per game his spot isn’t exactly secure. The rookie Smith only played in six games but managed 6.7 points in that time while Bolden played 44 games with 4.7 points per game to show for it.

Now to take a look at the players, the Sixers will most likely lose and possible replacements the team could sign.

Starting off is Tobias Harris who was second on the team in scoring with 20 points per game on 48.7 percent shooting from the field and 39.7 percent from deep. However, in the playoffs, Harris’ numbers dwindled. His points per game went down to 15.5 shooting 42.5 percent inside the arc and 34.9 percent outside of it. With Butler and Harris being the two players on the Sixers with possible max contract candidates it may be wise for the Sixers to invest elsewhere this summer.

A few free agents for the Sixers to target at small forward to replace Harris could be Kelly Oubre Jr, Bojan Bogdanovic, or Khris Middleton (although he does have a player option). Middleton is the leader of the group scoring wise with 18.3 points per game, with Bogdanovic following closely behind with an even 18 and Oubre slightly dropping off to 15.2 points per game.

However, Oubre is the youngest of the group at 23 while Bogdanovic is 30 and Middleton 28.

Contract wise, the player with the highest 2018-19 average salary is Middleton with $14 million, followed by Bogdanovic with $10.5 million and Oubre with just $2.3 million. Although these players are most likely looking for a pay raise in their next contract, none seem to be in line for a max contract.

Moving on, the Sixers will probably also move on from the 34-year-old J.J. Redick.

While Redick has played well as the team’s designated sharpshooter, his lack of defensive prowess and switchability make him a liability in the starting five.

With Redick gone, Brett Brown would probably commit to a super-sized lineup featuring Simmons at the point, Embiid at center, Butler back to his natural position at the two, and someone like Oubre or Bogdanovic at small forward. So really, the 76ers shouldn’t be looking to replace Redick with another two guard, but should instead look at starting power forward with a knockdown 3-point shot.

As things presently stand, 2019 has a pretty solid power forward free agent class, featuring players 31-year-old ex-76er Thaddeus Young, 24-year-old Julius Randle who technically has a player option, and Bucks trade deadline acquisition 28-year-old Nikola Mirotic.

In points per game, Randle leads all power forwards with 21.4, followed by Mirotic with 15.2, and Young at 12.6. Each players current contract numbers aren’t bad either, with Young playing on a deal worth $13.5 million, followed by Randle with $8.8 million, and finally Mirotic with $7.5 mil. If the 76ers decide to fill out their starting five with a legitimate power forward, any of these players could be a viable choice.

The 76ers will also definitely need to fill out their bench with only three bench players under contract in Bolden, Simmons, and Smith. To start, some possible point guards to consider as small ball foils to Simmons include 26-year-old Trey Burke, 25-year-old Terry Rozier, and Butler’s good friend 23-year-old Tyus Jones.

Out of the three, Burke leads in scoring with 10.9 points per game in 19.4 minutes a game. Next was Rozier with 9 points per game in 22.7 minutes, followed by Jones who only put up 6.9 points per game in 22.9 minutes. However, when it comes to assists, Jones led the pack with 4.8, followed by Rozier’s 2.9 and Burke’s 2.7. Even with these players looking to get paid next season, the Sixers should be able to get one for relativity cheap, as Rozier had the highest 2018-19 average salary at roughly $2 million, followed by Jones at $1.6 mil and Burke at $1.2 million.

The next position to look at has to be a top priority for the Sixers: center.

The team needs to get a reliable center to come in and play for an injury prone Embiid. A few possible centers the team should consider are 30-year-old Dewayne Dedmon, 29-year-old Tyler Zeller, even 26-year-old Enes Kanter.

Last season, Kanter led this group in scoring and rebounding with 13.7 points per game and 9.8 rebounds. Dedmon followed up with 10.8 points and with 7.5 rebounds. Then there’s Zeller, who managed 7.7 points per game and four rebounds in just six games and 15.3 minutes per game.

These numbers are to be comparable to the Sixers best in-house option in Boban Marjanovic, who put up just 7.5 points per game and 4.7 rebounds. Any of those options at center are also pretty cheap with the highest average from last season being Dedmon with $7 million, with Kanter and Zeller both having under a million dollar salaries.

Finally, it’s evident that Sixers fans are hopeful the team resigns forward Mike Scott after a fan got a tattoo of his name. Scott was able to put up 5.8 points per game while shooting for 40 percent from mid-range and deep. Although Scott has become somewhat of a fan favorite, it wouldn’t hurt the Sixers to bring in another forward free agent.

The team could reunite with Richaun Holmes who put up 8.2 points per game and 4.7 rebounds last season. Another possibility is Kenneth Faried, who averaged 10.4 points per game and 6.8 rebounds. Finally is another former Sixer in 24-year-old Christian Wood, who managed 7.8 points per game and 3.8 rebounds.

The final position to take a look at is shooting guard and possible ones to come off the bench. One option is 24-year-old Mario Hezonja who put up 8.8 points per game in 20.8 minutes a game.  There’s also Seth Curry, who played 18.9 minutes a game recording 7.9 points per game off 45 percent shooting from deep and mid-range providing a consistent shot off the bench. Finally, there’s Rodney Hood, who played 26.3 minutes a game putting up 11.2 points per game. Out of the three, the most expensive to get seems to actually be Hezonja at $6.5 million average for last season. He’s followed by Hood who basically cuts his price in half with $3.4 mil, and Seth Curry only having a price tag $2.7 million.

Next. Bringing Brett Brown back was always going to be best option for 76ers. dark

The Philadelphia 76ers have plenty to figure out this upcoming off-season. However keeping some key pieces like Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and hopefully, Jimmy Butler can help the team figure it out. The Sixers will look to be able to piece together the rest to lift them past the Eastern Conference semi-finals and prove better than this previous season.