Philadelphia 76ers: The easiest path to signing P.J. Tucker is obvious

In case you haven’t heard, the Philadelphia 76ers really want to signed P.J. Tucker.

Joel Embiid went out of his way to complement the forward’s play after the Miami Heat series, Tucker was a stalwart of some of the best Houston Rockets teams of the Daryl Morey-era, and the fine folks at Philly’s various premium footwear stores will all rest easy knowing that association’s reigning “Sneaker King” could soon be holding court in the City of Brotherly Love, paying much of their rent in the process.

Yes he’s one of the oldest players in the NBA at 37 and will only get older over the course of his next contract, but if a three-year, $30 million contract is the asking price for Tucker, which, according to Keith Pompey, it is, then that’s the price of admission.

But there’s a problem impeding the Sixers’ ability to pay out a contract worth $10 million a year: Morey needs to have access to the full, non-tax payer mid-level exception, which isn’t currently unavailable to the team since they are $4.439 million over the cap.

This harsh reality has led to some pretty wide-ranging ideas about how to get off of $4.4 million, from the incredibly creative, like trading Tobias Harris and pick 23 to the Charlotte Hornets for Gordon Hayward to free up $7 million, to the stomach-turning, like trading Matisse Thybulle and pick 23 for a future pick and cap relief but frankly, none of that really needs to happen. No, if the Philadelphia 76ers want to get under the tax-payer threshold, they need to simply waive Danny Green‘s non-guaranteed contract and roll forward with 23, Thybulle, and the rest of their assets at their disposal.

The Philadelphia 76ers shouldn’t overvalue half a season of Danny Green.

By his own admission, Danny Green will likely be out until at least February of 2023 after tearing his ACL and LCL in the second round of the playoffs. Assuming that evaluation does come to pass, and DG doesn’t instead suffer any sort of setback that instead keeps him off the court until March or *gasp* even April, that would leave the Sixers with roughly 24 games of Green during the regular season plus whatever run the Philadelphia 76ers can pull off in the playoffs.

On paper, that doesn’t sound too shabby at all; while it would be better to have a full season of Green, the soon-to-be 35-year-old’s true value comes in the playoffs, so having to give more minutes to, say, Isaiah Joe or Jaden Springer really wouldn’t be the worse case scenario.

Unfortunately, if landing P.J. Tucker is the primary goal of the offseason, then the decision to retain Green isn’t a binary decision that only affects one player. No, keeping Green means saying goodbye to players like Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, and pick 23, which could be used on a player like E.J. Liddell, who is an upperclassman combo forward ideally suited to play in the same frontcourt as Embiid.

But hey, for the sake of argument, let’s say the Sixers want Thybulle gone no matter what after his inability to play in Toronto last season and would rather have P.J. Tucker than the Washington product and pick 23. Well, if that’s the case, why not simply waive Green’s contract to free up the cap space needed to sign Tucker and then trade Thybulle and pick 23 for the best possible return? Plenty of teams would love to add Thybulle to their roster and with Tucker in place, the return from such a package could prove more beneficial than keeping an injured 34-year-old who hits the market next summer.

Throw Furkan Korkmaz into the equation as well and the Sixers could theoretically take back a player worth right around $10 million to slot in as their small forward this season in a frontcourt that also features Tucker and Joel Embiid.

Or ya know, the Philadelphia 76ers could simply waive Green, keep Thybulle, draft a Liddell-type, and then sign Tucker without having to make any other moves besides signing a veteran point guard to a minimum contract. Either way, prioritizing an injured 34-year-old on the final year of his contract over a 25-year-old two-time All-Defensive team member and a good draft pick in a very deep forward class doesn’t even seem like a win-now move; it feels like a poor allocation of resources and a slow moving mistake about to happen.