Written by Garrett Catalana – @GarrettCatalana
With the salary cap projections send out to NBA teams around $81 million, the Sixers are one of a handful of teams with significant salary cap room. With just $31 million on the payroll, including the $12 million owed to JaVale McGee, the Sixers have plenty of cap space in the last year of pre-new TV deal free agency. They have the ability to overpay for a player and not have it affect the future salary cap. While GM Sam Hinkie won’t splurge on max free agents left and right, he may want to find his next Robert Covington or overpay a tad in the short term to find a veteran who can contribute and help forward the rebuilding process. There are 15 players that strike me as possible free agent signings, some who will sign the league max, some for the league minimum, and many in between. Without further ado, here is my list.
1) Patrick Beverley (Houston Rockets) (RFA)
2014/15 Stats: 56 games; 11.8 PPG; 4.0 APG; 1.2 SPG; 38% FG%; 11.3 PER
– Signing Beverley, or any point guard of his caliber, is entirely contingent on the Sixers deciding to not draft a point guard with the 3rd overall pick in the draft (D’Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay), and draft a player at a different position like Mario Hezonja, Justise Winslow, or Kristaps Porzingis. If that were the case, bring in Patrick Beverley. Coming from the Rockets, Sam Hinkie has a history with Beverley and his unique skillset, which could benefit the Sixers on the defensive end of the floor. With the addition of Dario Saric next season (who can play a point forward spot), having a point guard who doesn’t necessarily need the ball in his hands (like Beverley) could be beneficial for the right salary.
2) Ish Smith (Philadelphia 76ers) (UFA)
2014/15 PHI Stats: 25 games; 12.0 PPG; 6.1 APG; 1.3 SPG; 40% FG%; 13.0 PER
– We know what Smith is capable of as a point guard in Brett Brown’s offense. His skills that were shown in 25 games as a Sixer were never seen in his previous seven stops as a pro. The chemistry he had with Nerlens Noel was fun to watch, leading Noel to say, “He’s the first true point guard I ever played with.” His shooting was stable and the assist numbers were strong, producing the highest numbers in his NBA career. Was it a fluke? Or were there signs of a developing point guard in a stabilized environment? We will see, especially with the returns of Isaiah Canaan, Tony Wroten, and possibly Pierre Jackson.
3) Cory Joseph (San Antonio Spurs) (RFA)
2014/15 Stats: 79 games; 18.2 MPG; 6.8 PPG; 2.4 APG; 0.6 SPG, 50% FG%; 15.5 PER
– Backups to Tony Parker have had success in the NBA with both the Spurs and other teams (George Hill, Patty Mills, Gary Neal), and Joseph could be added to that group. A tall point guard with a high basketball IQ in a successful system, Joseph could become a meaningful member of the Sixers backcourt in extended minutes.
4) Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls) (RFA)
2014/15 Stats: 65 games; 38.7 MPG; 20.0 PPG; 5.8 RPG; 1.8 SPG; 46% FG%; 21.3 PER
– This is the dream scenario for Sixers fans to sign restricted free agent Jimmy Butler away from the Chicago Bulls. A late first round pick in 2011, Butler has slowly become an elite NBA wing player. It is unclear whether he wants to return to Chicago, which may be contingent on the recent firing of head coach Tom Thibodeau (could be good or bad). If the Sixers were able to sign someone of Butler’s ability, the rebuilding process will take a huge step forward.
5) Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks) (RFA)
2014/15 Stats: 79 games; 30.1 MPG; 13.4 PPG; 3.8 RPG; 1.5 SPG; 47% FG%; 15.6 PER
– Relatively unknown at the start of the season by the general NBA fan, Khris Middleton had a major role for the rejuvenated Milwaukee Bucks team that ended the season as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference after finishing with the worst record in the NBA in in 2013/14. Both starting and coming off the bench, Middleton had a good shooting season (41% from three) and was a clutch performer late in games for the Bucks. He has the chance to blossom into a very great wing player in the NBA.
6) Wes Matthews (Portland Trail Blazers) (UFA)
2014/15 Stats: 60 games; 33.7 MPG; 15.9 PPG; 3.7 RPG; 1.3 SPG; 45% FG%; 16.1 PER
– Matthews was well on his way to a max contract when he blew out his knee on March 5th. Now with his long-term future in Portland in doubt, his situation could be beneficial for a team with serious cap room like the 76ers. Matthews is a great teammate, a good defender, and a good shooter, especially from three point range, If the Sixers could sign Matthews with a “prove-it,” incentivized 2-3 year deal, he could become the veteran leader (28 years old) on and off the court for a young 76ers team.
7) KJ McDaniels (Houston Rockets) (RFA)
2014/15 PHI Stats: 52 games; 25.4 MPG: 9.2 PPG; 3.8 RPG; 1.3 BPG; 40% FG%; 10.8 PER
– That’s right Sixers Nation, Round 2 of KJ McDaniels could actually happen. After getting traded away at the trade deadline, McDaniels only played in 10 games the rest of the season averaging three minutes a game for the Houston Rockets. Now McDaniels is a restricted free agent and could be had again for cheap. We have already seen what he is capable of in Philly and it would be fitting that Hinkie would trade him away to get assets and then resign him for almost nothing. Not sure it is realistic, but worth a mention.
8) Jason Richardson (Philadelphia 76ers) (RFA)
2014/15 PHI Stats: 19 games; 21.9 MPG; 9.1 PPG; 3.5 RPG; 0.7 SPG; 35% FG%; 11.7 PER
– Congrats to J-Rich for making it back on the court after 2 years of injuries kept him away from the game. Even while injured, Richardson provided veteran leadership for the team. He seemed rusty in the 19 games he managed to play, but had some moments (29 points on 3/4 @ OKC). The 34-year old is now free to sign wherever he wants but the Sixers may want to keep him around for his years of knowledge and experience, as well as the occasional three pointer.
9) Will Barton (Denver Nuggets) (UFA)
2014/15 POR Stats: 58 games; 16.9 MPG; 6.8 PPG; 2.8 RPG; 0.8 SPG; 43% FG%; 13.6 PER
– Mr. Sparkplug, Will Barton. During his four seasons in the NBA (primarily with the Portland Trail Blazers), Barton had big moments during stretches of games. While he never averaged more than 17 minutes a game in Portland (Terry Stotts had a short rotation — just ask Thomas Robinson), Barton has the ability to score the ball and attack the basket. Although he isn’t much of an outside shooter, Barton can penetrate the lane and dunk on anybody he wants. Barton is a buy-low candidate to ponder signing.
10) John Jenkins (Atlanta Hawks) (UFA)
2014/15 Stats: 24 games; 12.4 MPG; 5.6 PPG; 1.6 RPG; 0.4 SPG; 50% FG%; 15.9 PER
– You are probably asking, “Who the hell John Jenkins?” Well John Jenkins was a former first round pick (23rd overall in 2012) by the Atlanta Hawks, but was never able to get consistent minutes for Atlanta. He’s not much of a defender and not much of an attacker on the perimeter, but the man can shoot a basketball. While he only took 52 three pointers in 2014/15, he made 21 of them (40%), and shot 38% from deep his rookie year when he attempted 138 threes. The Hawks declined to pick up his 2015/16 option, so Jenkins is a free agent. He represents a super cheap option who can shoot from anywhere but will need to develop in all other areas.
11) Tobias Harris (Orlando Magic) (RFA)
2014/15 Stats: 68 games; 34.8 MPG; 17.1 PPG; 6.3 RPG; 1.0 SPG; 47% FG%; 16.7 PER
– Harris played big minutes for an underachieving Orlando Magic team that already had a crowded big man rotation (Nikola Vucevic, Channing Frye, Aaron Gordon, Kyle O’Quinn). Primarily playing as the 3 in the lineup, Harris shot 36% from three-point range and averaged 6.3 rebounds per game. He is similar to Thaddeus Young and depending on how Brown wants his lineups, Harris could start at the 3 and move to the 4-spot in small-ball lineups or come off the bench as a tweener. A young option to consider, but mostly unlikely.
12) Wesley Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers) (UFA)
2014/15 Stats: 76 games; 29.5 MPG; 9.9 PPG; 4.2 RPG; 0.8 SPG; 41% FG%; 11.1 PER
– Taken with the fourth overall pick in the Evan Turner draft by the Timberwolves, Johnson has never fulfilled his potential as a NBA wing player. Johnson has never shot above 43% from the field in a season and never above 37% from three, but has ideal size for a small forward (6’7, 205 lbs.). Johnson attacks the basket well but has yet, at age 27, to find his niche in any backcourt he has played in. Johnson is another former top-five pick with ideal size and athleticism (the other being Thomas Robinson) that could be developed by Brett Brown’s staff into a solid backcourt player.
13) Thomas Robinson (Philadelphia 76ers) (UFA)
2014/15 PHI Stats: 22 games; 18.5 MPG; 8.8 PPG; 7.7 RPG; 0.4 BPG; 47% FG%; 19.3 PER
– Thomas Robinson was claimed on waivers by the 76ers on February 24th. In the 22 games he played, he averaged the most minutes (18.5), the most points (8.8), and the most rebounds (7.7) per game in his career. He was relentless on the glass (averaged 15 rebounds per 36 minutes) and provided instant energy off the bench, taking the minutes of Henry Sims. Robinson said at that the end of the season that he wanted to come back to Philadelphia. A big man rotation with Noel, Embiid, Aldemir, Robinson, and Jerami Grant would be a very solid group.
14) Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (Philadelphia 76ers) (UFA)
2014/15 PHI Stats: 67 games; 28.6 MPG; 9.9 PPG; 4.0 RPG; 0.3 BPG; 40% FG%; 10.6 PER
– Acquired in the Thaddeus Young trade, LRMAM put up the best numbers of his career in his one season in Philadelphia. His calming presence in the lineup and versatility was beneficial to the 76ers as he also provided some good defense on anyone from a shooting guard to a power forward. He even played some point guard. If Luc does come back, it would be to play some small-ball 4-spot minutes and continue to mentor fellow Cameroonian Joel Embiid as well as the other young players.
15) Epke Udoh (Los Angeles Clippers) (UFA)
2014/15 Stats: 33 games; 3.9 MPG; 0.9 PPG; 0.8 RPG; 0.2 BPG; 46% FG%; 11.6 PER
– Once the sixth pick of the Golden State Warriors in the 2010 NBA Draft, Udoh has had a lackluster NBA career. After playing just 96 games in two seasons with the Warriors, he was traded to the Bucks in the Andrew Bogut trade. This past season he was a benchwarmer for the Clippers, appearing in just 33 games off the bench. Like Thomas Robinson, Udoh has all the physical tools to be successful in the NBA. Perhaps time with Brett Brown and the coaching staff could solve whatever has kept Udoh from reaching his potential on a one-year deal.
Let me know what you think Sixers Nation! #TrustTheProcess