With another sub par year coming to a close, I felt it was time to write a letter to Sam Hinkie expressing my views about the one thing we can change: the future.
Dear Sam Hinkie,
Free agency is an integral part of the sustenance of every NBA franchise. It’s the very thing that has brought basketball back to Cleveland and cemented San Antonio as a basketball dynasty. But to garner the crème de la crème, a team must have something desirable. The Cavs had talent. The Spurs had pedigree. And the Sixers? These Sixers have youth.
If you take away Jason Richardson, nobody on the 76ers (avg. age 23.7) is over 30; both Embiid and Noel, the two franchise cornerstones, are also 21. And with the way that Noel has played as of late (averages of 18.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 3.3 blocks in his last 5 games), free agents may interpret this as a sign of what’s to come should they put on the red, white and blue. After years of mediocrity, there is a better chance that “B-List” free agents will be willing to sign here (fingers crossed). If only it were that easy.
The problem isn’t the frontcourt. It’s safe to say that it is locked down for the next 2-4 years. Hinkie’s biggest question mark at this juncture is what to do with the backcourt. Isiah Canaan is not a starting point guard. Covington, despite being the team’s high scorer on the year, has fizzled down the stretch and Mbah-Moute is past his prime. Fortunately for Sixers fans, this year’s class can more than lend a helping hand.
Logically, it makes sense to upgrade the point and small forward positions, for both Canaan and Mbah-Moute could make excellent spark players. And with just over 63 million dollars in cap (according to Basketball Reference), money shouldn’t be an issue to do so. Contending with better teams for the interim to pry these guys loose, however, will. Which is precisely why the Sixers should attack bad teams and cease bad situations. Keep in mind too that this team wants to stay young.
“A-Listers” such as the Mavs’ Rajon Rondo, the Warriors’ Draymond Green, the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard and the Heats’ Goran Dragic are clearly off the table for next season, either because they demand too much money or are content with staying put. However, what remains leads to an intriguing group. Patrick Beverley (age 26) and Wilson Chandler (age 27) are two particular standouts. Beverley is a talented lockdown defender and versatile ancillary option on offense who can shoot the 3 at a high clip. However, he’s struggled to stay on the court this year and has been forced to feed the ball-dominant Harden when he has been; this is your standard bad situation. Chandler is a perfect example of a bad team. He’s been gold this year for the struggling Nuggets, with averages of just under 14 points, 6 rebounds and 1.8 3’s made/game, but has struggled to adapt to another head coach (after Brian Shaw was let go March 4th). Tobias Harris (age 22) is also a player to keep an eye on. He’s flown severely under the radar in his 3rd year with the Magic (career-high 16.9 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game and .361 percent from 3 on 1.2 makes per game) and by drafting super-freak Aaron Gordon last year, the Magic may feel compelled to let him go. A starting backcourt of Beverley, Covington and Harris would be scary and hardly impactful to the league’s biggest salary cap (between $3.5-$8 million dollars for any combination of those players). Combine that with the arguably the league’s most imposing defensive frontcourt and a deeper bench, and this team might be playoff ready by 2017.
Speaking of a better bench, the Sixers need a blend both spark and experience. How great would Gerald Green (11.4 points in 19.4 minutes) be on this Sixer team! It would give an anemic offense another massive boost and a viable scoring option while the starters rest. With the West being as competitive as it is, players might feel more inclined to switch Conferences if that means going further come playoff time. Henry Sims is a solid backup at center, but Brandan Wright (.658 field goal percentage, 1.3 blocks per game) would be another great option off the bench who shoots a high percentage and plays hard. Another go-around with Thaddeus Young (14.1 points per game, 1.7 steals per game), who has struggled after a career year in his last year with the Sixers, would be interesting too. Altogether that project would cost $17.5 million dollars.
Combine this with the plethora of draft picks the team has and the remaining $22- $27 million dollars the team will have at the end of next year (plus that of other potential free agents) and the Sixers are in good shape. I’m no Sam Hinkie, but I might be on to something.
Anonymous PSN Writer