Following a draft night that saw Bryan Colangelo ultimately stand pat in a trade for Kris Dunn, it was no secret that a top priority for the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency was locking down a serviceable option at the point guard position.
The organization saw last season how the absence of a reliable floor general could spiral a team down into until-then-unforeseen levels of unwatchability, starting an abysmal 1-30 before trading 2 second-round picks to rent Ish Smith for six months.
The deal for Smith was like if you really wanted to watch a movie, but could only get Redbox because both the cable and internet were out, only if the Redbox fee was $30 and it only carried LifeTime Original Movies. Sure, you got your two hours of entertainment, but was it really worth it?
So it was with Smith, who initially gave the Sixers a boost during a 6-9 stretch following his arrival until the entire league figured out to play 5 feet off him, and the team finished the year on a 3-33 skid.
After watching from afar that tire fire in Philadelphia in 2015-16, it’s not surprising that Bryan Colangelo’s first move during the free agency period was the signing of Jerryd Bayless to a 3-year, $27M deal.
Bayless always made a lot of sense for Philadelphia three reasons
- His ties to Colangelo from their Toronto days;
- The fact that at age 27, he meets Colangelo’s desire to bring in veterans without being too old that he’s on the downslope of his career.
- His ability to slide between both guard positions make him an ideal fit alongside Ben Simmons, who the team will want handling the ball at least a portion of the time.
With Colangelo’s initial move garnering near universal praise from both the Sixers fanbase and the NBA community at least, the question remains, what’s next? Basically, there are three avenues which Colangelo seems poised to address.
1. Sign another veteran free agent
Keep an eye on Philadelphia. They're making some HUGE offers to notable veterans, in hopes that they can land one or two. They want to win.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 2, 2016
Reports have linked the Sixers to Dion Waiters, Rajon Rondo, Jamal Crawford, and Courtney Lee. From these options, Lee is the only one I think makes sense for the Sixers. Waiters is too much of a ball-stopper. I want no part of Rondo with what I’ll charitably call his prickly attitude. And Crawford makes no sense given he’s 36 years old.
Lee would fit well offensively as a spot-up shooter off the ball and plays solid perimeter defense. If they want to throw a huge offer at him over two years to bring stability to the backcourt and introduce another veteran presence to the locker room, that would be a respectable move
2. Grab one of the coveted, young restricted free agents
The two names to which the Sixers have been linked and are still available are Harrison Barnes and Allen Crabbe. The Barnes situation is connected to the Kevin Durant saga.
If the Warriors fail to bring back Durant, they are going to match any offer on Barnes. If Durant goes to Golden State, though, the Sixers have always seemed like the most logical destination to obtain the former Tar Hell with a max offer sheet.
While I don’t think he’ll perform up to that contract, getting a 24-year-old whose floor is above average role player is a defensible move for Bryan Colangelo.
The Allen Crabbe situation became eminently more interested following Portland’s signing of Evan Turner to a 4-year, $70M deal yesterday. That’s a lot of playing time at the wing position that would have been earmarked for Crabbe suddenly going to Turner.
Crabbe might suddenly be more inclined to sign an offer sheet elsewhere. Of course, he’s a restricted free agent, so it also comes down to whether Portland would match any deal. After giving close to $18M per year to Turner, Portland matching is suddenly less of a foregone conclusion.
The Blazers now have around $65 on the books for the 2017-18 season and are going to have to negotiate a huge deal with C.J. McCollum, who is a restricted free agent next offseason. If they match a big deal for Crabbe, they’re saying this is their team for the next few years. It will be interesting to see if they’re comfortable with that being the case, or whether they’re willing to let Crabbe go.
3. Trade one of the big men
Finally, the move we’ve all been waiting for since Colangelo first came on-board, which of Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor will be moved. An added benefit of the Bayless signing is it returns some degree of leverage to the Sixers in trade negotiations.
Sure, teams still know Philadelphia has an unfeasible logjam in the middle, but at least now there’s no whiff of desperation about obtaining someone to direct the offense.
There’s a good chance that with all of these teams hoping to grab a big free agent, at least a couple of them will turn to trading with the Sixers as a fallback option when they miss out on their guy. Noel or Okafor could be more enticing then.
It’s been a wild opening 36 hours of free agency. While teams like the Knicks and Lakers are throwing big money at non-superstars in the sort of “win now” moves Sixers fans feared would happen in Philadelphia Bryan Colangelo has remained admirably committed to staying the course with the future in mind.
Keep refreshing that Twitter timeline to see whether that remains the case over the days and weeks to come.