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Realistic 2016 Free Agent Targets For The Philadelphia 76ers

The 2016 NBA Draft took place in Brooklyn, New York a week ago.  The Philadelphia 76ers added Ben Simmons with the number one pick.  The organization also added Timothe Luwawu-Caberot with the 24th pick and Furkan Korkmaz with the 26th pick.  The team had what many people believed to be a successful draft on paper.  The 76ers have utilized the draft as a great way to build their young core of players.  With that said, the organization can’t rely solely on their draft selections to build a team.  The organization must also build their team through free agency.  The 76ers haven’t been a legitimate option for most free agents over the past few seasons, but the future finally looks bright and one were young talent wouldn’t mind making Philadelphia their next place to play.

The organization can use various selling points to land free agents.  The top selling points in my mind are that the team is young and has a bright future.  A young player signing in Philadelphia would lead to great opportunity for that player to become a star.  Philadelphia is a large market were stardom can lead to big things on and off the court.  The organization has a great coach in Brett Brown who comes from the San Antonio Spurs system of championship caliber and winning basketball.  Brett Brown does a great job of developing young talent.  The organization is building a state of the art practice and training facility that is expected to be the largest in the NBA and if I am not mistaken, I believe that I heard that it will be the largest in professional sports.  Athletes want to utilize as many different fitness and nutrition advantages such as state of the art facilities to help them continue to live a healthy lifestyle and improve on their overall fitness.  The city of Philadelphia is a great city for those who love culture and nightlife.  There are a lot of great restaurants, museums, and shopping options for players to enjoy in their down time.  The surrounding suburbs of Philadelphia can make for a great place for athletes to live.  Many athletes have lived in Villanova which is a high end area of living and one that is not too far from the city.  Enough about the selling points, lets focus on the actual free agents and who the Sixers might be looking to target.

The Sixers rebuild has gone on for long enough.  It is time for the organization to finally put together a competitive team that can continue to improve as the seasons and the years move on.  As I previously mentioned, this is the first off season in which free agents would actually consider signing in Philadelphia.  There will be certain free agents who don’t want to play in Philadelphia due to the youth, inexperience, and rebuilding of the team.  The top level free agents aren’t even going to consider Philadelphia, but there should be plenty of options available for the Sixers and these options could be options that have untapped potential and the potential to be very good players or possibly even All Star caliber players in the right situation.  I am going to break this article down into three parts and discuss five key candidates/players for each part.   The first part will be the free agents who the Sixers will have no chance of signing.  I decided to not include LeBron James, Tim Duncan, and Dirk Nowitzki as each of these players are definitely rejoining their current teams and even if they weren’t, there is no chance that they would sign with the Sixers.  There is also a strong chance that Tim Duncan retires.  The second part of the article will be free agents that are somewhat likely to sign with the Sixers.  These players will have many options to choose from and I expect the Sixers to at least be interested and at least offer them a deal.  The question with these guys is will the interest be mutual?  The third part of the article will be the highly likely or realistic targets that the Sixers could land and will try to land and also players that might look to consider playing in Philadelphia.  These players are either established veterans who the Sixers may look to bring in to help the young players or are young talents who may have a chance to have a larger role in Philadelphia.

No Chance Of Signing

Kevin Durant (UFA)-  Kevin Durant is the top player available in the 2016 NBA Free Agency frenzy.  Durant has discussed his desire to stay in Oklahoma City, but he also hasn’t ruled out leaving either.  He has meetings set up with a few other teams such as the Clippers, Spurs, and Warriors.   I wouldn’t be surprised if he meets with some other teams, but unfortunately for Sixers fans, there is more than likely no chance he even meets with the 76ers organization or even considers it.  I expect Durant to resign with Oklahoma City and on possibly a short one or two year deal with a player option to opt out after the first or second season.

DeMar Derozan (UFA)-  DeMar Derozan continues to improve each season he is in the NBA and he has developed into one of the best shooting guards in the league.  He can score at a high rate and can take over games if needed.  All indications point to Derozan staying with the Toronto Raptors.  The Sixers could offer him a max deal and current Sixers G.M. Bryan Colangelo is his former G.M. in Toronto, but I don’t expect Derozan to be interested in Philly.  I expect Derozan to stay.

Mike Conley (UFA)-  Mike Conley has continued to improve his game and has become one of the best point guards in the game today.  Mike is a great play maker for his teammates, but he can also shoot the ball as well.  Conley will command a max contract and Philly could throw money his way, but I would be shocked to see Conley sign with a rebuilding team.  I don’t think Conley will resign with the Memphis Grizzlies, but I am not sure what teams will go after him, but he should have plenty of suitors.  His only problem is that he is coming off of an injury, but if he is healthy, he provides a team with a great floor leader and a superstar type player.

Dwyane Wade (UFA)-  Dwyane Wade is one of the best shooting guards and best players of all time.  Wade is still playing at a very high level and can still be the number one option on any team.  Wade has spent his entire career playing with the Miami Heat and I don’t expect that to change.  Recent rumors suggest that preliminary talks between Wade and the Heat have the two parties on different sides right now.  Rumors suggest that Wade will listen to offers from other teams.  I think him and the Heat will work out a deal and he will remain in Miami.  The only way I see Wade leaving is if his good friend and former teammate LeBron James convinces him to join the 2016 NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers.  Sorry Sixers fans, but we have no chance at getting Wade.

Pau Gasol (UFA)-  Pau Gasol has been a great player throughout his career.  Gasol could end up leaving Chicago and I think there is a good chance that happens.  Gasol more than likely wouldn’t consider the Sixers, but if he did decide to consider the team and join us, we would be getting a veteran presence who can rebound the ball and can stretch the floor with his solid mid range shooting ability.  Gasol is also a proven winner and the type of player you would want your young players to be mentored by.  I think that out of the “No chance” players I have listed, Gasol is the one that the Sixers would have the best chance of signing, but it is still very slim.

Somewhat Likely

Harrison Barnes (RFA)- Harrison Barnes has been a very good role player on the Golden State Warriors throughout his career.  Barnes has a ton of potential and while he hasn’t lived up to that potential, he hasn’t really had the opportunity to live up to that potential.  The Warriors will have the right to match any offer that Barnes signs from other teams.  Barnes is a versatile player who can shoot the ball a little bit and is a great athlete.  If Barnes continues to develop his outside shooting ability, he could turn into a three and D type of player with the skill set to be a number one or two scoring option depending on what team looks to sign him.  The Sixers have the money to offer Barnes a max deal and the Sixers could use a player with Barnes’s potential to help build the Sixers into a playoff contender once again.  Many people might question the Sixers if they offer Barnes the max, but I really think he could be a very good player in a Sixers uniform.  I think you will see more of Barnes and his potential if the Sixers were able to acquire them.  I think the Warriors like Barnes too much to let him leave and will more than likely match the offer that the Sixers put on the table.  One way that Barnes could end up in Philly is if the Warriors end up getting Durant in free agency.

Nicolas Batum (UFA)-  Batum has been a good player throughout his career and has shown the ability to knock down shots on the offensive end of the floor and play good defense as well.  Batum is accustomed to playing on playoff contenders and I expect him to look more towards teams that have playoff aspirations right now.  I think the Hornets have a shot of resigning Batum and if he is going to join a young team, he might as well stay with one that forced a game seven in the playoffs.  I think the Sixers will offer Batum, but he won’t be that interested due to the team’s current state in the rebuilding process.

Jordan Clarkson (RFA)-  Clarkson has shown versatility in his short time in the NBA thus far.  Clarkson is playing for a rebuilding franchise in the Los Angeles Lakers and is a key component to their team.  The Lakers will more than likely match any offer that is out there for Jordan Clarkson.  The Sixers have the money to offer him a max deal and that could cause the Lakers to be hesitant to match an offer.  I think Clarkson stays with the Lakers.

Eric Gordon (UFA)-  Eric Gordon has battled some injuries throughout his career, but when he is healthy he can score with the best of them.  The Sixers desperately need scoring and shooting and Gordon could come in immediately and average 20 or more points per game on the Sixers.  The Sixers would be faced with the dilemma of should they overpay for a player who has injury issues or should they look elsewhere towards younger and healthier options?

Jeremy Lin (UFA)-  Jeremy Lin has had an up and down career for the most part, but he showed what he could do with a young Charlotte Hornets team last season.  Lin played a big role coming off the bench providing play making and scoring.  There is a good chance that Lin looks to resign with the Hornets, but I think the Sixers should at least offer him a deal.  He isn’t the youngest guy that they could target, but he is still young enough were he could fit in well with a young team like the Sixers.  If Lin wants to be a starting point guard again, Philadelphia would be a good option for him to do so.

Highly Likely

Allen Crabbe (RFA)-  Allen Crabbe played a key role for the Portland Trailblazers this past season in their playoff run that led them to the second round were they lost to the eventual Western Conference Champion Golden State Warriors.  Allen Crabbe showed that he can knock down shots from long range and can provide solid defense as well.  The Trailblazers have the right to match Crabbe and may very well do so.  I think the Sixers top target should be Crabbe.  He is a very young player who hasn’t even gotten close to reaching his potential.  Crabbe would be a great addition to a young rebuilding team and the Sixers have enough money to offer Crabbe and at an amount that will get Portland thinking twice about overpaying for a young player who they might not want to overpay.  Crabbe can play small forward, but I think he is more suited for the shooting guard position.  The Trailblazers already have a strong backcourt duo and one of the best in the league in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.  If the Sixers have a strong offer for Crabbe, I think there is a great chance that Portland lets him go and Crabbe joins the Sixers.

Kent Bazemore (UFA)-  Kent Bazemore has really improved throughout his time in the NBA.  Bazemore didn’t really get an opportunity to shine until he joined Atlanta.  Bazemore has shown that he can score the ball effectively and has shown that he can shoot a little bit as well.  I don’t see Bazemore as a 20 points per game scorer, but I can see Bazemore contributing 15 points a game and being a very good player for the Sixers.  Bazemore is also a very good defender as well.  Bazemore has the freedom to sign anywhere he wants and hopefully the intrigue to play here is mutual on both his side and our side.

Dion Waiters (RFA)-  Dion Waiters is a hometown kid who apparently has expressed desire in the past to play for his hometown team.  I personally don’t think the Sixers should overpay for a guy who jacks up shots, often bad ones and doesn’t convert at a high rate.  Waiters is inconsistent shooting and scoring the ball.  Waiters has the potential to be a very good player, but he needs to change his mentality on the court.  If he can involve his teammates more often and utilize others, he can be a good player.  I don’t mind the Sixers going after Waiters as a possible high energy guy off the bench who can provide some scoring off the bench, but I wouldn’t invest big money in him being a number one option or a starting shooting guard.  The Thunder have the right to match any offer for Waiters, but they will more than likely let him leave after acquiring the much better Victor Oladipo in the Serge Ibaka trade on draft night.  The Thunder also have Andre Roberson who knows his role on the team and would be a much better backup to Oladipo than Waiters would be.

Evan Fournier (RFA)-  The Sixers desperately need shooters and Fournier is a very good shooter.  Fournier is another player who has continued to improve throughout his career and could really flourish with the young rebuilding Sixers.  With the loss of Oladipo via the Serge Ibaka trade on draft night, I expect the Orlando Magic to match any and all offers for Evan Fournier and he will remain in Orlando.  The Sixers would be crazy to not at least look at and offer Fournier though.

Bradley Beal (RFA)-  I think at this point I made it clear that the Sixers desperately need shooters.  Bradley Beal definitely provides that and then some.  Beal is versatile on offense and can get to the rim as well.  Beal has the potential to be a good defender too.  I like Beal a lot, but injury issues this past season could scare the Sixers and other teams away.  Out of the players I have listed as “Highly Likely”, I think Beal is the best player out of these five and a player who has shown the most throughout his young career.  Beal has All Star potential and playing for a team like Philly could allow him to realize and maximize that potential.  Beal will more than likely have his contract matched by the Wizards as I am sure they would love to keep him as John Wall’s backcourt mate.  I read somewhere that Beal believes that he is a max player and if the Sixers believe the same, there is a good chance that Beal could be a Sixer.


Author: Nick Eberhardt

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