Free Agents: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (Unrestricted), Jason Richardson (U), Ish Smith (U), Thomas Robinson (U), Henry Sims (Restricted), Glenn Robinson III (R)
Another season passes, and almost like clockwork, Sam Hinkie’s team has somehow managed to find yet another way to take a step back. Shipping Carter-Williams off to the Bucks was a sound decision; no one anticipated Embiid’s setback and nobody asked Dario Saric to stay in Turkey for another year The fact remains, though, that the Sixers are in a state of perpetual freefall. This is in no small part by Hinkie’s conscious efforts to reach for lottery picks and to trade away all high value assets all while operating above the cap floor. Yes, the NBPA’s investigation into possible CBA violations on the part of “tank commander” Sam Hinkie will likely come up fruitless, but his use of some questionable practices regarding the now-retired Andrei Kirilenko and other acquisitions continue to rise eyebrows, to say the least.
You shouldn’t expect the Sixers to seek out any notable free agents apart from undrafted rookies and other young castaways, as their philosophy is oriented more towards keeping payroll at its minimum so the team can have flexibility towards big-name players when the time comes. But they might have their hands full attempting to retain some of the talent they already have. Theoretically, Richardson might be lured away to a contender to round out its bench, but the Sixers’ other free agents also have intriguing skills to go along with youth; Ish Smith is a pure point guard who stuffed the stat sheet in Philly, and Thomas Robinson averaged 17 points and 15 rebounds per 36 minutes after coming to the Sixers. Henry Sims was a relative disappointment last season, and the Sixers might choose to look elsewhere, but he still managed to pick it up later on in the year, something thats sure to earn him a few looks from teams willing to pay. Glenn Robinson III wasn’t given enough minutes to truly make an evaluation of his play, but he showed off the occasional flash of potential. Even the older Mbah a Moute might still have a part to play in Philadelphia continuing as a mentor to Embiid.
Philadelphia’s draft choices were, for the most part, confusing. The selection of Okafor already created a crowded frontcourt, but the selections of the big men Richaun Holmes, Arturas Gudaitis, and Luka Mitrovic muddled things up even more. At the very least, after Hinkie was criticized for choosing injured big men in an effort to continue the tank, only Gudaitis possesses any history of significant injuries. He and Mitrovic will likely be stashed overseas, however, Holmes and fellow draftee JP Tokoto will likely be brought onto the squad immediately. This could signify the end of not only Jason Richardson’s time in Philly, but of Thomas Robinson, Henry Sims, and Ish Smith’s time as well. If Philadelphia has any roster spots remaining when the dust is cleared, they could make one last move by offering a non-guaranteed multiyear deal to a young and athletic prospect (think Robert Upshaw or Christian Wood). As for the Noel/Embiid/Okafor trio, Noel has proven himself as a legitimate defensive talent, it would be unwise to trade Embiid with his stock at its very lowest, and Okafor stands to at least raise his stock with some actual NBA experience if Hinkie is dead-set on trading him. So, for now, don’t expect any extreme shake-ups involving the Sixers.
Look for many outgoing young players (in their 1st to 3rd year) to be exchanged in cap sustaining deals as Okafor, Embiid, and Noel are tasked to improve on a gutted Philly team. One thing’s for sure, that new paint job probably won’t mean anything new for Hinkie’s strategy. In the end, the Sixers will emerge virtually unscathed by controversy, considering how far at the bottom they already are.
Prediction: The Sixers will let go of Jason Richardson
This piece is part 1 of the 30 Team Offseason Preview Series by Fazal Ahmed.