Philadelphia 76ers: Re-signing Furkan Korkmaz should be a no-brainer

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

All the way back in 2018, Furkan Korkmaz requested a trade away from the Philadelphia 76ers.

Now, at the time, Korkmaz’s request was largely met with tears from a fanbase excited to finally see their homegrown Big 3 of Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid take the court. He was coming off a season where he averaged 5.6 points in 14 games of action outside of the G-League and was at best the team’s third-string shooting guard, depending on how you classify a player like Fultz. If he was demanding a trade, what was next? Would the team’s two-way contract players refuse to suit up in Delaware without some form of contractual guarantee?

Well, fortunately for fans in the 215, Furkie’s request was outright rejected, and he finished out the season with 12 double-digit point performances to his name. Granted, those performances all came after the team already declined Korkmaz’s third-year option, the very move that spurred on his initial trade request, but after failing to find a new home on the open market, the Istanbul, Turkey native returned to South Philly on a two-year deal worth, $3.38 million.

Fast forward two years into the future, and Korkmaz is coming off of the best postseason run of his career – statistically speaking, of course – and is in line for a bit of a pay bump heading into his fifth professional season.

And the best part? Korkmaz wants to return to run it back in his adoptive American home. But do the Philadelphia 76ers feel the same? Well, they darn well better.

There’s virtually no downside to the Philadelphia 76ers re-signing Korkmaz.

More from Section 215

Furkan Korkmaz did not play particularly well in the final three games of the Philadelphia 76ers’ Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Atlanta Hawks.

Tasked with taking up the mantle and filling the shoes of playoff stalwart Danny Green, who’d suffered an effectively season-ending calf injury in Game 3 of the very same series, Korkmaz scored 10 points on 2-5 shooting from beyond the arc in the Sixers’ second loss of the series to Atlanta, before recording incrementally fewer points with each passing game over the final three contests of the very winnable series.

Was Korkmaz the team’s biggest issue down the stretch? Heavens no. Joel Embiid’s lingering meniscus injury, when coupled with Ben Simmons’ offensive implosion and Doc Rivers’ front-running ways, made the Sixers’ margin for error a whole lot slimmer, but with Korkmaz thrust into the starting lineup, the bench expanded even further to largely disastrous results.

Let’s just say when your bench gets outscored by your opponent by a combined score of 218-171 over a full series; it gets rather tricky to win.

You see, at the ripe old age of 24 on July 24th – Korkmaz isn’t the sort of player who will start for the next decade-plus at the NBA level. He isn’t a scrub by any means, but time after time, when Korkmaz is given chances to start for a prolonged period of time, almost always because of injury, he eventually gave back his spot to a player who is either a better pure shooter from volume – think Seth Curry or J.J. Redick – or a more well-rounded 3-and-D winger like Danny Green.

If a team like, say, the New York Knicks signed Korkmaz to a five-year deal worth something like $85 million with cap space – the very same deal the Orlando Magic signed a similar player, Evan Fournier, to in 2016 – they’d surely regret the move down the line, as he only averaged 15.7 points per game on the 23 contests where he recorded 26 or more minutes of action a night, but that has more to do with expectations than on-court production. Not every player can be a superstar – even if they really want to be – but many a player has made a very good living as a mid-level player who moves around the depth chart and plays their role selflessly when their number is called.

At this point, Korkmaz firmly falls into that category.

Because Korkmaz has been with the Sixers for three-plus seasons, Elton Brand, Daryl Morey, and company can conceivably sign Korkmaz to a deal worth as much as 25 percent of the salary cap if they so choose via his Full Bird Rights. They won’t; that would be absolutely wild, but in theory, the only reason the Sixers should have to worry about losing Korkmaz in free agency is that they don’t want to match another team’s offer.

Assuming Korkmaz’s representatives understand his standing on the open market and the chance to return to South Philly on a long-term contract at a much-higher average dollar amount per year, there’s little reason to assume a deal couldn’t be made roughly analogous to what Curry signed with the Dallas Mavericks back in 2019, back when he was coming off of a 7.9 points per game season as a bench player for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Is a four-year contract worth $32 million all that impressive by NBA standards? Eh, not really, it’s roughly 93 percent of what Tobias Harris made in 2020-21 alone, but for a player the Sixers didn’t even want to stick around for the 2019-20 season at a $2.03 million, it’s one heck of a feel-good story two head coaches in the making.

Fun Fact: FiveThirtyEight projects Furkan Korkmaz’s value at $74 million over five years. While that’s probably a bit rich for the Sixers’ blood, landing him on a deal in the $8-10 million range isn’t unrealistic.

In the NBA, it’s hard to improve when you are already over the salary cap. Because free agents can only be signed to either veteran minimum deals or by digging into the mid-level exception – or something similar – most teams are limited to trades and/or the draft as their best path to procuring additional talent to fortify a roster in need of a Nikki Sixx-level shot of adrenaline.

But do you want to know the one other way teams can continue to get better moving forward? Actually retain their own young players on long-term deals.

Next. Collin Sexton is the perfect trade exception target. dark

Whether you like Furkan Korkmaz, hate Furkan Korkmaz or find yourself a little Furkancurious, his development from Years 1-2 to 3-4 has been incredibly exciting to watch and is thus worthy of a financial commitment to remain with the Philadelphia 76ers moving forward. Could they trade his contract down the line a la Evin Fournier? Sure, but you can’t trade a contract you don’t have and may regret allowing a soon-to-be 24-year-old walk when you could simply re-sign him without surrendering anything more than some of Josh Harris’ money.