Philadelphia 76ers: Five Free Agent Targets
The Sixers are ready to start winning. Who should they target in free agency to help them make the playoffs next season?
The Philadelphia 76ers are approaching a rather important offseason. With oodles of cap space available, the Sixers have an opportunity to add a difference maker to their young core. With ‘The Process’ (assumedly) completed, the Sixers’ focus should now be on winning and possibly even making the playoffs next season.
With their current roster, they are probably far away from that. Coming off of 28 wins, the Sixers would have to make a 12-to-14-game jump next season in order to reach the postseason. With a healthy Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, along with Markelle Fultz, the playoffs could be a possibility — though probably still not likely. Adding the right player in free agency this summer could put them over the hump, though, as well as help the young players along in the coming years.
With the point guard, power forward and center starting positions locked down, the Sixers should be targeting shooting guards and small forwards — specifically efficient shooters and good defenders.
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Philly currently has Robert Covington starting at small forward, who has proven his value with his defense time and time again. He will be a free agent after the 2017–18 season and will earn a ton of money. But at a time where shooting is everything, having four shooters around Simmons may be the way to go.
Porter would be the perfect upgrade over Covington, especially on offense. Porter is coming off a career-best shooting season, converting 43.4 percent of his 4.3 three-point attempts per game. He also shot a career-high 51.6 percent from the field on a flat 10 attempts per game.
Porter will be paid hamdomsely for being a third option, but it would be worth it for Philadelphia. His fit with Fultz and Simmons would be similar to his fit with John Wall and Bradley Beal — scoring and playmaking coming from all directions. Wall and Beal are much more developed and proven than Fultz and Simmons, but the talent is there. And not to mention, Brett Brown is a pretty smart coach who should be able to make it work.
Porter is great when playing off of players that are just way better than him, which is the situation he would be in with the Sixers. His defensive prowess isn’t at the level of Covington’s, but the offense would just be so fluid that it would be worth it.
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Redick has perhaps been linked to the Sixers more than any other free agent, and for good reason. Despite being 33, way older than Philly’s core members, Redick would be the perfect short-term fit with the Sixers. Sure, spending this summer’s money on a long-term option at shooting guard would make a lot of sense, and Redick probably isn’t around four years from now. But with how good of a shooter he is, signing Redick as a short-term bridge wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
The intrigue in Redick comes from the same place that (hypothetical) interest in Porter comes from: adding shooting. With Covington and Simmons (and Embiid’s possible replacement if he misses a lot of games), the Sixers will be desperate to have a floor-spacer of Redick’s caliber. Shooting 42.9 percent on six three-point attempts per game last season, Redick would be the perfect fit.
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Caldwell-Pope would definitely be the third option for the Sixers behind Porter and Redick, considering he is not a very efficient scorer (39.9 percent on 12.2 attempts per game from the field, 35 percent on 5.8 three-point attempts per game).
Those numbers may be a bit skewed, though. Caldwell-Pope did a lot more on offense than he would have to do in Philly, and shot 36.8 percent on 3.7 attempts on catch-and-shoot threes this past season in Detroit. His shot attempts overall would likely decrease so his efficiency would likely rise with that. Also, less of an offensive load on his shoulders would mean more energy to expend on defense, a side of the court Caldwell-Pope is pretty good on.
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McLemore is probably a guy the Sixers go after if they strike out on a bigger, more expensive name, but he would be a good fit nonetheless. It’s hard to judge how good McLemore is at anything that the shooting numbers don’t show since he was with the Kings, which probably means he won’t make much money. Shooting 38.2 percent on 2.8 three-point attempts per game last season, giving McLemore a short-term, small-money deal wouldn’t be a bad idea to preserve future cap space and see if he is a good long-term fit with the current core before truly investing in him.
Miles would be a good veteran presence for the young core, but like Redick, would only be a bridge signing — giving the Sixers shooting and competence at shooting guard for next season.
Miles would be an easy fit with the Sixers, who shot 42.3 percent on 4.8 catch-and-shoot three-point attempts this season with Indiana — with a massive 63.8 percent of his shots coming of the catch-and-shoot variety. Miles is also a passable defender.
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This may not be the summer where the Sixers lock in a starter for the long-term, unless they are able to sign Caldwell-Pope or Porter. They can, however, nab a player to help them start winning now while also not dishing out a ton of future money, which may be the best and most likely option for Philly this summer.