The Sixers have yet to enter the buyout market this season. With Ben Simmons set to be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks after suffering a nerve impingement in his lower back, is now the time to act and pick up ball handling help?
In order to add a player, the Sixers would first need to open up a roster spot. Kyle O’Quinn reportedly wants to be waived and, as the team’s fourth-string center, would the clear choice to let go. It might be a marginal upgrade, but the Sixers need to weigh whether there’s a free agent who could give them more than O’Quinn, who hasn’t played in a game close since Jan. 20.
There aren’t a ton of traditional point guards out there at the moment, but Tyler Johnson, Tim Frazier, Isaiah Thomas and Dion Waiters are four possibilities.
Johnson’s career has gone downhill since he was traded to the Suns last season. He had surgery on his right knee last April and had a poor second year with Phoenix, shooting 38 percent from the field (28.9 percent from three) and falling out of Monty Williams’ rotation. Still, the 27-year-old can play both guard spots and, from 2017-19, averaged 12.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He also, before heading to Phoenix, graded out well in advanced statistics like defensive box plus-minus and defensive win shares and was a competent three-point shooter. For the Sixers, he’d seem to be the best option of the four names listed.
The 6-foot Frazier, a Penn State product and Process era point guard (six games as rookie in 2014-15), was waived by the Pistons in February. Frazier is a pass-first player — you may recall he had five points and 11 assists in his NBA debut — who’s averaged 5.0 points and 4.0 assists in his NBA career.
In contrast to Frazier, the 5-foot-9 Thomas is a scorer. Defense is a major, obvious weakness and he’s clearly no longer the player he was during his prime with the Celtics.
A Philadelphia native, Waiters was suspended several several times this season by the Heat for off-court issues. He can score and has supreme self-confidence.
In order to be eligible for the playoffs, players must be waived by March 1, meaning there’s still time for other candidates to become available. The Sixers are free to sign someone at any point before the end of the regular season (as an example, they added Greg Monroe last April).
Simmons’ injury leaves the Sixers with some difficult questions. Is Shake Milton a viable starting point guard? How can the team get the most out of Alec Burks? What needs to change with their offensive approach outside of simply putting more on Joel Embiid’s plate?
With the buyout market, the essential question is whether there’s a free agent who might be able to help the team more than O’Quinn. None of the names currently available are very attractive, but it at least seems that signing one and waiving O’Quinn would be better than doing nothing.
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