• Alec Liebsch

Philadelphia 76ers Free Agent Targets

Big changes have been the theme of the past few offseasons for the Philadelphia 76ers. From the infusions of high-profiled rookies Joel Embiid (2016) and Ben Simmons (2017) to the subsequent attempts to surround them with talent, the Sixers have constantly been on the hunt for big game.

That trend expects to buck when free agency begins on November 20th. All of the Sixers' cap is tied up in four contracts: Embiid, Simmons, Tobias Harris and Al Horford. That quartet will combine for $119.8 million next season (and increase each season after that), a shocking sum for a group that failed to win a playoff game.

The team's total financial commitments ($147 million) put them way over the luxury tax line ($132.6 million) before even making a move. This takes them out of any maneuvers allowed under the "hard cap" ($138.9 million), such as sign-and-trade acquisitions, the full mid-level exception (between $5.7 and $9.3 million) or the bi-annual exception.

So what are the Sixers left to play with? The taxpayer's MLE and minimum signings. The TPMLE can be worth up to $5.7 million this season, and can be used on multiple players. Minimum signings act as cap exceptions, and though the upside is often limited, teams have found diamonds in that rough before.

Below is a wide variety of players the 76ers could sign, either with the TPMLE or for the minimum. From veterans who demand the entire exception to ring chasers who will take a discount, Philly should take a look at all of the following free agents—or guys of the same ilk.

Free Agent Target 1: D.J. Augustin

Up first is a guard who checks several boxes for the Sixers: shooter, playmaker, and ball handler who doesn't suck on defense. The 12-year veteran knows his role and won't step outside of it unless asked to—an ideal fit for a contender.

Most recently a member of the Orlando Magic, Augustin stabilized a rotation that was low on ball handlers who could shoot. He averaged 10.1 points and 4.1 assists on .429/.388/.861 shooting, splitting time as a starter and backup.

What makes Augustin an attractive piece is also why he might be off the market entirely. Orlando should do its best to retain him, and will have a huge advantage in doing so because it has his Bird Rights. Should he want to sign with Philadelphia, it would be because he's pursuing a ring.

Free Agent Target 2: Jeff Teague

Staying with the theme of veteran guards who can shoot, Jeff Teague is a cheaper alternative to Augustin. He's not the same level of shooter, but he can play a similar role as a veteran tone-setter.

Teague's best ability is his availability. In 11 seasons Teague has missed just 99 regular season games, 40 of which came in one season. Teague has been a model of health and fitness across his NBA career, and will bring a high level of professionalism to his next team.

He will also bring playmaking (10.6 assists per 100 possessions) and shooting (.445/.356/.844 splits) in the same body; the Sixers could use a guy like him, especially on the cheap. His past partnership with Philly's general manager Elton Brand could also make him more amiable to signing with the Sixers.

Teague probably has to settle for the minimum in this market. No one's buying on past production at age 32, even though his best days were pretty darn good. An offseason where money is sparse will push many guys like Teague down the pecking order.

Free Agent Target 3: Langston Galloway

Philly expressed interest in Langston Galloway midway through last season in trade talks. The 6'1" guard was most recently a member of the Detroit Pistons, where he played a solid role as a backcourt sniper.

Galloway will not be running the offense; rather, he's a nice shooter to have next to a big playmaker. Over his three years with Detroit, he made 36.8% of his 4.6 3-point attempts per game. His shot diet is mostly that, as 63.2% of his shots were 3s over that span.

And despite his underwhelming size, Galloway actually checks opposing guards pretty well on defense. He's scrappy and energetic on that end, a strength he can preserve with a specific offensive role.

A 3-and-D guard, whose best role is next to a bigger ball handler, is smack in the middle of his prime, and might come as cheap as the veteran's minimum? Sign the Sixers up.

Free Agent Target 4: Kyle Korver

Every team could use a Kyle Korver on the minimum. He might be 40 years old by the end of next season, but he'll still be knocking down 3s at an elite clip. I hear the 76ers could use a shooter.

Almost all of Korver's shot attempts these days are triples. That would be a welcome addition to a Philadelphia team that ranked 22nd in attempted 3s per game last season. Korver is pretty good at making them too: over the last four seasons, Korver has drained 42.7% of his very robust amount of 3-point tries (1320 attempts).

The Sixers were in on signing him last offseason, but he ended up signing with the Milwaukee Bucks instead. That opened the door for Philly to bring back Furkan Korkmaz, and now both gunners could don the blue and white.

Free Agent Target 5: Alec Burks

From the minute Alec Burks was acquired last season, he became the basketball version of Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion. For every hot streak of his that propelled the Sixers, there was an equally crippling cold spell that brought them right back down to Earth.

Burks is a mixed bag, no doubt. His jump shot is also much flatter than his 41.6% 3-point percentage with Philly last season would indicate. The ball should be in his hands as little as possible. His size (6'6", 215 pounds) plays bigger than his actual defensive abilities. But he's also very close to what the Sixers need: a bucket-getter.

If he only costs the minimum to bring back, the Sixers almost have to re-sign him. He was one of the team's few productive players in the playoffs, fills a need, and already has familiarity with the team. If Burks isn't back next season, it's because he got a medium-sized deal somewhere else.

Free Agent Target 6: Meyers Leonard

Center only becomes a need if/when Al Horford is traded, hence why Meyers Leonard is so far down this list. He also may garner a bigger deal than anything the Sixers should pay him. But this offseason will tighten a lot of purse strings, especially for bigs.

Someone like Leonard—a plus shooter who can hold down the fort at the 5—should be targeted if Horford is gone. Simmons will always need a stretchy big in the frontcourt with him, and if the Sixers can sign one on the cheap they'll be extremely well off.

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