Philadelphia 76ers: Furkan Korkmaz’s new deal is an absolute steal

(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /

Three years ago, the Philadelphia 76ers weren’t particularly high on Furkan Korkmaz.

The 26th overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft, selected between NBA non-factor Brice Johnson and future All-Star Pascal Siakam, Korkmaz was a seldom-utilized, deep-bench reserve during his first two seasons with the team, averaging just under five points in 12.2 minutes of action a night.

Things got so dark that after the Sixers declined Korkmaz’s option for the 2019-20 season, the Istanbul, Turkey native demanded a trade to get his career back on track, even though his market wasn’t exactly boisterous.

Fortunately, a trade was not granted. Korkmaz played on the rest of the season, turned in a few solid performances, signed a two-year, $3.38 million contract, and developed into a viable two-way winger worthy of massive minutes in the postseason.

And as a reward for his efforts, Kormkaz just got paid to the tune of a new three-year deal worth $15 million.

Is that a great number for Korkmaz? Most definitely. His $5 million AAV is roughly analogous with Mike Scott‘s 2020-21 cap hit, and we all know which of those players was more impactful last season. But if our friends over at FiveThirtyEight are to be believed, Daryl Morey may have just secured one heck of a Day 1 free agency bargain.

Furkan Kormaz may be the owner of the Philadelphia 76ers’ best value contract.

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On a day where both Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry were sign-and-traded on massive new contracts, it’s understandable to be a tad underwhelmed by the Philadelphia 76ers’ initial free agency output.

Slowly but surely, players presumably on the Sixers’ wish list came off the board, with stretch forwards like Doug McDermott and Kelly Olynyk signing long-term deals worth well over the mid-level exception with the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons, respectively.

Are there still players worthy of the Sixers’ interest? Oh yeah, most definitely. Players like Malik Monk and Frank Kaminsky are still on the board and would look fantastic in a red, white, and blue uniform this fall, but first, Daryl Morey opted to take care of his own and keep Furkan Korkmaz around long-term.

To some, the idea of rolling the dice on three more years of Furkie is a nauseating proposition. As even the most causal of Sixers fans will tell you, Korkmaz is a streaky shooter who sometimes gets a bit too dribble-y when his shots aren’t falling, so hoping he somehow puts it all together and becomes the next Evan Fournier may be a fool’s errand long-term.

But here’s the thing; at $5 million, you can take that risk.

Say things don’t work out. Say Korkmaz plays poorly, shrinks under pressure, and is unable to secure a spot in Doc Rivers’ rotation when the playoffs roll around; what are the Sixers really out? It’s not like Morey and company could have signed someone else with that money, as the Sixers are over the cap and were only able to extend Korkmaz because they held his full Bird Rights.

If, conversely, Korkmaz just plays to the level he put on tape in 2020-21, the Sixers just secured one heck of a deal, especially when you compare his real-world money to his contractual projection from FiveThirtyEight.

That’s right, based on his continued development, his statistical improvements, and general height/weight/length player profile, FiveThirtyEight projects Korkmaz worthy of a five-year contract worth as much as $74 million, or an AAV of $14.8 million.

Granted, does that feel a tad pricey for Korkmaz? Yes. Korkmaz has only scored 20-plus points in 38.5 percent of his 210 career games and hasn’t exactly been a consistent contributor night-in and night-out. But then again, considering Korkmaz is one of the few players on the Sixers roster to actually earn a positive offensive and defensive RAPTOR rating – a statistical claim backed up by similar numbers from Pro-Basketball-Reference – it’s hard to argue with their evaluation.

And, for what it’s worth, FiveThirtyEight isn’t the lone site suggesting that Korkmaz is worthy of a most financially lucrative contract than what he ultimately earned. Profitx projects Korkmaz’s value are around $9 million per year, with a ceiling of $10.5 million and a floor of around $7.6 million. At $5 million, Korkmaz is rapidly approaching McDonald’s $1 large drink territory in terms of value.

Remember, when Danny Green went down in Game 3 of the second round, it was Korkmaz, not Matisse Thybulle, who was given the nod in the starting lineup. While that move ultimately might not have been the right one, as the Sixers’ bench became even less dynamic with the 6-foot-7 winger starting between Seth Curry and Tobias Harris, it’s hard to argue that he didn’t deserve the opportunity.

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So yeah, on a day typically associated with teams committing silly money to external options, it’s nice to know Daryl Morey found a way to leave the opening evening of free agency with a massive, homegrown bargain under contract for the next three years. For the next three years, Furkan Korkmaz is going to be a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, and you’ve best believe they’re elated to have him back.