NBA free agency rumors: 5 players the Sixers could target with final roster spots

NBA free agency rumors: 5 players the Sixers could target with final roster spots

The Sixers have just two roster spots left and very little to spend.

GM Elton Brand has used up most of his cap space and has likely already used the room exception on re-signing Mike Scott. It appears the team will only be able to sign players to veteran minimum deals. While the team has the NBA minimum 13 players on its roster, there’s a good chance the Sixers could still look to add another veteran or two.

Here are five players that could make sense.

Kyle Korver

Korver was just waived after being traded to the Suns. The Sixers are reportedly one of the frontrunners to sign the veteran sharpshooter along with the Bucks and Lakers. Korver is now 38 and has never been a defensive dynamo, but he can still really shoot the basketball (39.7 percent from three last season). While Brand has it made it clear his team’s identity will be built on the defensive end, adding a shooter like Korver at the vet minimum would make a ton of sense. Brand has already acquired two of his former teammates in Mike Scott and Al Horford.

Thabo Sefolosha

The former Sixers draft pick — though he never actually played for the Sixers — would fit right in with team’s current defensive identity. Like Korver, he’s past his prime at 35, but could provide leadership and still knows what he’s doing on the defensive end of the floor. He can still shoot it a little bit as well, hitting over 40 percent of this threes his last two seasons with the Jazz. Also like Korver, Sefolosha was a member of that 60-win Hawks team back in 2014-15. Korver and Sefolosha would be a nice combination for the last two spots.

Iman Shumpert

It’s a little surprising that Shumpert is still out there. He’s not a world beater, but he’s still just 29 years old and was actually having a strong season with the Kings before a trade sent him to the Rockets. He’s a solid defender with NBA Finals experience. His shot has always been volatile. He shot from it well from three in 42 games with Sacramento (36.6 percent) but struggled in 20 games with Houston (29.6). If he’s available on a veteran minimum deal, he’s a nice wing insurance policy if youngsters Zhaire Smith and Matisse Thybulle struggle.

Trey Lyles

Lyles was just a victim of the numbers game in Denver. The Nuggets recently rescinded Lyles’ qualifying offer, making the 23-year-old an unrestricted free agent. The timing isn’t great for Lyles with most teams using up their cap space. Lyles is a versatile player with good size that can do a little bit of everything. Since he’s still so young, he could be looking for a team that could offer him a larger role. That team likely isn’t the Sixers, but it's certainly worth a phone call.

Ryan Anderson

Anderson has been plagued by injuries and a horrendous contract that the Heat just stretched and waived. He’s a 38 percent career shooter from three and has made over 1,300 treys. That’s really Anderson’s only skill. He’s not good defensively and he’s not a great rebounder. Like Korver, you’re only using a player like Anderson if you’re struggling to space the floor. He’s not a player that will likely factor into your regular rotation.

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Elton Brand resisted #RunItBack and built a bully instead

Elton Brand resisted #RunItBack and built a bully instead

You can blame a lot of things for the Sixers not being able to take down the reigning NBA champion Raptors.

Joel Embiid’s health or Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris not giving them enough or just bad luck for a ball bouncing off the rim four times — whatever you want to blame, the season ended in disappointment.

But while the above reasons are clear, there was one thing that happened before Kawhi Leonard sunk that shot and Sixers fans’ hearts in Game 7.

Before Jimmy Butler made a layup to tie the game with 4.2 seconds left, the Sixers hadn’t made a field goal for over three minutes. Toronto turned up their defense and bullied the Sixers out of the gym to help close out the series.

Fast forward to July, and Elton Brand has decided to build a bully of his own and not give in to the #RunItBack crowd.

JJ Redick’s deal with New Orleans was one of the first signings to get reported at 6 p.m. Butler was looking into a sign-and-trade with Miami and eventually got his wish.

Wasn’t it interesting, though, that the Al Horford signing was announced almost immediately after the Butler sign-and-trade to the Heat that got the Sixers Josh Richardson? Reports were surfacing almost immediately after Horford declined his player option with the Celtics on June 18 that a team was prepared to offer him a four-year deal for over $100 million. It seems as though the Sixers were that team all along.

The plan seemed to be to build a defensive bully — even going back to the draft when the team had targeted Matisse Thybulle, the two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and traded a pick to move up to No. 20 to get him.

The starting lineup will be long and feature essentially four elite defensive players and perhaps an underrated one in Tobias Harris. In the era of positionless basketball, they’re at the frontline with a 6-foot-10 point guard, a 6-9 wing, two extremely skilled centers and their smallest starter standing at 6-6. If ever a team looked like a bully on paper, this is it.

Even the bench moves by Brand signal an obvious focus on the defensive end of the floor. The team brought back Mike Scott and James Ennis, two switchable, tough and versatile defenders. Thybulle will join 2018 first-round pick Zhaire Smith as another young, bouncy perimeter player that has tremendous defensive potential. Even the signing of veteran center Kyle O'Quinn represents an upgrade over any player Brett Brown used to spell Embiid last season.

It likely won’t all go swimmingly. Harris will be tasked with guarding wings on a nightly basis, something that may be a challenge against quicker swingmen. In theory, the idea of Embiid and Horford sounds like a nightmare for players driving to the rim, but the two will likely have to get used to playing with each other. Even Richardson, for as talented a defender as he may be, will likely be matched up with opposing point guards as the shortest Sixer on the floor. And the Sixers will miss Redick's shooting and Butler's shot creation ability and clutch shotmaking.

The Sixers were painfully close to beating the Raptors with Redick and Butler in the fold. Taking the champs to seven games is great, but it doesn’t bring you hardware or a parade. Brand knows that, which is why the status quo wasn’t good enough. Butler is a star. Redick has been a huge part of the fabric of this team for the last two years.

But Brand had a different plan this season. While most would’ve been on board for the #RunItBack philosophy, he was not.

And no team will be able to push these Sixers around.

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Sixers finally get a veteran point guard in Raul Neto

Sixers finally get a veteran point guard in Raul Neto

The Sixers appear to have found a veteran backup point guard.

The team will sign Raul Neto to a one-year deal for the veteran minimum, a team source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. The deal was first reported by Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News, while Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the terms of the contract.

A native of Brazil, Raul Neto (pronounced Hah-OOL Nett-oh) has spent his entire four-year NBA career with the Jazz. He was originally selected in the second round by Atlanta but was sent to Utah in a draft-night trade. He was waived by the Jazz earlier this week to make room for Mike Conley. Before coming to the NBA, the 27-year-old played eight professional seasons overseas.

Neto isn’t the most explosive guard, fitting more into the category of crafty. He’s an excellent passer and his shot has been up and down. While he’s 37.7 percent from three for his career, he’s had two seasons hovering around 40 percent and the other two around 33 percent. He’s also dealt with injuries throughout his time in the league. His lack of elite athleticism and size has hurt him on defense as well.

With the Sixers reportedly losing T.J. McConnell to the Pacers, Neto can provide a steady and calming influence as a floor general off the bench. He’ll likely have to fend off second-year guard Shake Milton for minutes.

With all the reported deals, the Sixers’ roster stands at 13, the minimum amount a team can carry. There are still two regular spots and a two-way spot open. Any move the Sixers make to fill those last two regular spots will likely have to be veteran minimum signings with the team right up against the cap.

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