Sixers

How many of Sixers' in-house free agents will be back?

Sixers

Outside of his three draft selections, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey did most of his work via trade last offseason.

He dealt away Josh Richardson and Al Horford, acquiring Seth Curry and Danny Green. In free agency, his lone move was signing Dwight Howard to a one-year, veteran minimum contract.

What’s in store after the Sixers’ painful second-round loss to the Hawks? The team has two restricted free agents in Gary Clark and Rayjon Tucker, plus four unrestricted free agents in Howard, Danny Green, Furkan Korkmaz and Mike Scott.

Let’s take a look at the Sixers’ in-house unrestricted free agents: 

Dwight Howard 

Howard led the NBA in rebounds per 36 minutes, threw down quite a few lobs and blocked 62 shots. He regularly provided energy, enthusiasm and crowd-thrilling plays, becoming a fan favorite who enjoyed free Wendy’s Frostys and the sound of “Here Come the Sixers” after wins at Wells Fargo Center.

There’s also a less positive list of factors to note with Howard, though. He’s in great physical shape and said in January he’d like to play at least five more years, but it would be very unusual for a 35-year-old to pull that off. The effects of age aren’t always predictable, but it’s possible he’ll be noticeably diminished next season. 

 

To help the Sixers, Howard typically needed to score and rebound at a high rate. That’s because his negative plays were frequent. He had a career-worst turnover percentage of 22.8, per Cleaning the Glass, and ran into trouble with personal, flagrant and technical fouls. Howard is not a versatile player on either end of the court, meaning an accumulation of such mistakes tends to harm his team. Finally, we’ll highlight that the Sixers were outscored by 10.4 points per 100 possessions when Howard and Ben Simmons shared the floor. 

If Howard returns on another minimum deal, that wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Sixers. He just shouldn’t be depended upon as a contending team’s sole backup center at this point in his career. 

Danny Green

Many NBA fans have an idea of what the 34-year-old Green brings to the table, but we think it would still be fair to classify him as sneakily valuable for the Sixers.

In short, Green made corner three-pointers, moved smartly away from the ball and played above-average defense on most nights. He showcased wisdom, leadership and tactical savvy to the extent that Sixers head coach Doc Rivers believes Green will follow his path and become an NBA coach once his playing career is wrapped up. 

What might have gone under the radar with Green is he allowed other players to fill their best roles. Players like Korkmaz and Shake Milton could be scoring sparks off the bench. Curry wasn’t the sole sharpshooter in the starting lineup. In the regular season, Simmons could spend the early portion of a game on a less taxing defensive assignment thanks to Green before guarding the opposing star late. 

The Sixers have Green’s Early Bird rights, so they’re permitted to pay him as much as 175 percent of the approximately $15.4 million he made in the 2020-21 season. We focused more on Green’s free agency here

Furkan Korkmaz 

Korkmaz has developed well since the Sixers signed him to a two-year, minimum salary deal in late July of 2019. He shot 39.0 percent from three-point range over the past two seasons, fulfilling some of his shooting promise and improving defensively. 

Korkmaz, who will turn 24 years old on July 24, has proven himself worthy of being in a good NBA team’s regular-season rotation. Still, he does not exude reliability.  He averaged 7.5 points and 3.5 rebounds as a starter in the four games after Green strained his right calf in the second round, shooting 35.5 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three-point territory. 

The Sixers have Korkmaz’s Bird rights. It will be interesting to see what level of interest he draws around the league. 

 

“I’ve been here for four years,” he said after the Sixers’ Game 7 loss to the Hawks. “I call Philly a home. I love this city, I love this organization. I would like to come back here, but free agency works differently — the front office, a lot of things going on — you never know. It’s not in your hands.

“I hope I will be in the best fit for myself, either here or somewhere else. But definitely, I would like to come back here. Like I said, I call Philly a home.”

Mike Scott 

Scott sticking with the Sixers would be a surprise.

He couldn’t crack the team’s playoff rotation despite the Sixers’ need for a second-unit power forward. Scott is useful in theory as a veteran who can contribute at both the four and five spots, but knee issues set him back this season and he couldn’t ever find sustained success. 

The Sixers’ younger players appreciated Scott’s perspective and efforts to help them off the floor. 

“As far as veterans, I think the one that’s really stepped up and taken me under his wing is Mike Scott,” Isaiah Joe said in May. “He’s one of the great veterans that we have here. All of our vets are great, but I think he’s really taken pride in taking us under his wing and pushing us, and making sure we’re staying on the right path.”