NBA free agency

2020 NBA free agency: 6 wings Sixers could target

2020 NBA free agency: 6 wings Sixers could target

Though we don’t yet know the full implications of the coronavirus pandemic on the NBA’s salary cap, it seems safe to say the Sixers won’t be able to target any huge names in free agency, given how much money the team has committed to Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Al Horford.

The team has youth on the wing in Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz and Zhaire Smith, but it might aim to supplement the position through free agency. Outside of in-house options Glenn Robinson III (player option) and Alec Burks (unrestricted free agent), here are six potential options for the Sixers: 

E’Twaun Moore 

The 31-year-old Moore has shot 40.9 percent from three-point range over the past five seasons, and he’s also capable of attacking closeouts and making plays off the dribble.

Before the trade deadline, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported that Moore was on the “long list of wings” that the Sixers had expressed interest in. 

Langston Galloway

The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey reported in January that the Sixers were interested in the St. Joe’s product. Galloway ultimately stayed in Detroit, where he’s shot 39.9 percent from three this season. 

He should be moving on from the rebuilding Pistons, and the Sixers could find his outside shooting appealing. 

Marco Belinelli 

Belinelli isn’t the player he was during that joyful 28-game stretch at the end of the 2017-18 season when the Sixers went 23-5 and he averaged 13.6 points and made 38.5 percent of his threes.

If he’d be willing to accept a minimum deal, would Belinelli be worth it? There’s little apparent downside to giving a veteran shooter a spot on the bench and perhaps the chance to recapture a little of the magic from his first stint here. It’s doubtful whether Belinelli could defend well enough to help in a playoff series, but you’re typically not looking at guaranteed postseason contributors with minimum contracts. 

Justin Holiday 

After spending nine games with the 2012-13 Sixers as a rookie, Holiday has played for six other NBA teams and established a decent career, albeit a well-traveled one. 

He’s a versatile player, someone the Sixers could plug into a lot of different lineups, and has hit 42.4 percent of his long range attempts this season for the Pacers. The asking price will be an important question, as Holiday may be due for a bump in salary after signing the room mid-level exception with Indiana for this season. 

Bryn Forbes 

Forbes looks like he’d be an excellent fit in Philadelphia because he’d provide three-point shooting and playmaking in one package. Though he's a confident shooter and has hit 40.8 percent from long distance over the past two seasons, Forbes plays within himself, doesn’t turn the ball over much and is a competent facilitator. And at 26 years old, he might still have room to improve. 

Moe Harkless 

The Sixers’ first-round pick in 2012, Harkless started the season on the Clippers before being shipped to the Knicks in the Marcus Morris trade, a transition he didn’t sound thrilled about.

Harkless is a solid NBA wing who could bolster the depth of a contender. He’s wrapping up a four-year deal he signed for $42 million, so he’d likely need to take a pay cut to play here. 

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Can Elton Brand and the Sixers fix what went wrong with roster construction?

USA Today Images/Bill Streicher

Can Elton Brand and the Sixers fix what went wrong with roster construction?

The Sixers had so many options heading into free agency last July.

We don’t know yet exactly when free agency will begin this year because of the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the suspended NBA season. Whenever it does happen, though, the Sixers won’t have as many possibilities. 

The decisions to give Tobias Harris a five-year, $180 million contract and guarantee Al Horford $97 million over four years are the two clear, primary reasons the Sixers won’t be in an especially flexible position. In Year 1, those moves haven’t panned out as GM Elton Brand and the front office would have hoped.

In one major way, Horford has actually provided what the Sixers expected. As a backup center, he’s been quite good — the Sixers have a plus-5.2 net rating when Horford is on the floor and Joel Embiid is off it. He’s been much better than a hodgepodge of Amir Johnson, Boban Marjanovic, Greg Monroe and Jonah Bolden. 

However, many of the reasonable concerns that came with signing Horford have come to fruition. The Horford-Embiid pairing has the worst net rating of any two-man Sixers lineup that’s played at least 500 minutes together. If you want an idea of just how poor the offense has been when the two have shared the floor, consider this: Their 100.6 offensive rating together is almost six points worse than any of the Sixers’ two-man pairings last season (minimum 500 minutes). 

Though Brett Brown was talking about aiming to further develop Horford and Embiid together as recently as the day before the season was suspended, that combination is a problem. It’s not what the Sixers would have planned when they signed Horford, but the decision to move him out of the starting lineup in February was very sensible.

Horford has shot more three-pointers than ever in his career, but not at an efficient rate (33.7 percent, his worst mark since the 2014-15 season). We thought he’d likely decline in the later years of his contract and be costing the Sixers money at 35 or 36 years old. To put it bluntly, he’s cost the Sixers money in his first season, and has not fit well. 

Harris, in his ninth NBA season, has improved defensively, is second on the Sixers in scoring (19.4 points per game) and, after an 0-for-23 nightmare of a stretch, has shot 39.1 percent from three-point range. He’s the only Sixer to have played in every game, and younger players like Matisse Thybulle and Marial Shayok have praised his mentorship. All of that matters and is positive, but Harris has not been worth $32.7 million this season.

The main question now — outside of when basketball will return, of course — is whether the Sixers can repair their mistakes.

Is there a team out there that would be willing to take on Horford’s contract and give up any value in return? The Kings, who reportedly were expected to make a “massive offer” to Horford in free agency, are one team it would make sense to engage. Sharpshooter Buddy Hield would presumably be the name of interest.

Trading away Harris looks much less likely, although we’ve learned not to rule anything out during Brand’s brief tenure. It’s difficult to imagine the Sixers receiving a worthwhile return, and Brown and Brand have often portrayed Harris as being an emerging player. They believe he’s going to get more and more comfortable and effective as a primary scoring option.

Josh Richardson, who’s suffered a variety of injuries in his first year a Sixer, is on a team-friendly deal. He shouldn’t be untouchable, but his perimeter defense and shot creation are important for this team, and they come at a good value.

Ben Simmons and Embiid are not what’s wrong with the Sixers and should not be traded at this stage. The pieces around them are the issues. Of course, judgement of whether those are issues the Sixers can overcome is incomplete. We don’t know yet how this roster would fare in the playoffs, and Brand has insisted his team was built with the postseason in mind. 

The Sixers would currently have a first-round pick in the draft — the top-20 protected Oklahoma City Thunder pick they acquired in the Markelle Fultz trade would convey — and that’s one of the ways they should be able to improve their roster. They’ve hit on Landry Shamet, Shake Milton and Thybulle in the draft over the last couple of years. With how Brand has constructed the team, targeting a perimeter player who can shoot, capably create his own shot or do both would appear an obvious priority.

Fundamentally, nobody envisioned this NBA season unfolding the way it has. Whatever is next and whenever the offseason eventually begins, the Sixers will have to discern the best methods to address the unpleasant surprises of this season. 

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Sixers agree to deal with Trey Burke, who figures to be in the mix at backup PG

Sixers agree to deal with Trey Burke, who figures to be in the mix at backup PG

The Sixers have their 15-man roster.

The team has agreed to terms on a one-year, veteran minimum deal with point guard Trey Burke, a team source confirmed Thursday night to NBC Sports Philadelphia. Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the agreement. 

With the signing of Burke, the Sixers have the maximum of 15 players under contract for next regular season, along with Christ Koumadje on an Exhibit 10 deal and Marial Shayok and Norvel Pelle on two-way deals. Teams can have up to 20 players on the roster during training camp, so the team could add still add two more players at this stage as long as it cuts down to 15 by the start of the regular season. In all likelihood, this current group of 15 players will be the roster that starts the 2019-20 season for the Sixers. 

The 6-foot-1 Burke averaged 10.9 points and 2.7 assists in 58 games last season between the New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks. This will be the 26-year-old’s fifth NBA team.

He projects to be part of the competition for the Sixers at backup point guard. The Sixers also signed Raul Neto to a one-year, veteran minimum deal this summer, but Neto’s injury history — he hasn’t played more than 41 games in a season over the past three years — makes the decision to add another point guard very understandable. Shake Milton is another player who could be part of the backup point guard picture, though you’d figure Neto and Burke would currently have the edge over the 22-year-old Milton given their status as proven NBA players. 

Burke isn’t an elite three-point shooter (35.6 percent from three last season), but his strength is shot creation, a tool the Sixers could use off the bench. 

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