The Philadelphia 76ers are sounding like they are very serious about putting a competitive team together this year.
Philadelphia completed its long three-year rebuilding plan this past season by producing one of the worst years in NBA history. The Sixers finished with a 10-72 record and were dead last in point differential (minus-10.6). They ranked 29th in scoring with 97.4 points a contest and 29th in scoring defense, permitting 107.6 points a game. Since the start of 2013-14 campaign, Philadelphia is just 47-199.
There is good news, however, as the 76ers won the draft lottery for the second time in franchise history this year and have a truck load of cap space available. Philadelphia used the No. 1 overall pick on Ben Simmons.
Simmons is very versatile and explosive athletically. The 6-foot-10, 19-year-old has the ability to handle and pass the ball – like a point guard – while also being able to score in a variety of ways. He averaged 19.2 points along with 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists his lone collegiate season at LSU.
Philadelphia used its other two first-round draft selections on international players, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (24th pick) and Furkan Korkmaz (26th pick). Luwawu, 21, is regarded as a potential 3 and D player while Kormaz, 18, is more of a project.
Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly reported that Luwawu is expected to suit up for the Sixers this upcoming season. Korkmaz, on the other hand, will stay over in Europe for at least one more season, per reporter David Pick.
Mark Stein of ESPN reported today that the Sixers intend to pursue Golden State forward Harrison Barnes when the free agent period officially opens on Friday. Philadelphia will reportedly offer Barnes, who will be a restricted free agent once he officially receives his qualifying offer from the Warriors, a max contract. Golden State will have the opportunity to match any offer that Barnes receives.
Barnes has been a solid rotational player for the Warriors in each of his four seasons with the club and is coming off perhaps his best season of his career. The 24-year-old averaged a career-best 11.7 points as well as a career-high 1.8 assists and 82 three-pointers in 65 games. He also grabbed 4.9 rebounds a contest and shot 46.6 percent from the floor.
Barnes, however, struggled during Golden State’s postseason run and was a no-show in some key games. He reached double-figures in just 11 of the 24 playoff games, averaging 9.0 points, and shot 38.5 percent from the field along with 34.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Barnes will likely receive attention from a lot of teams this offseason. He has said he would like to return to the Warriors and Golden State will likely be interested in having him return.
“The first thing is I want to come back,” Barnes said on SiriusXM Radio when asked what he’s looking for as a free agent.
It is entirely possible that Golden State matches any offer that Barnes receives and then does a sign and trade. Philadelphia has been shopping Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor for about a month now. Either one of them would be a good addition to the Warriors, particularly if they sign Kevin Durant this summer.
Another possibility for the Sixers is Dion Waiters, per Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops.
Waiters, a Philadelphia native, is a restricted free agent and has said he would like to return to Oklahoma City. The Thunder just acquired Victor Oladipo from the Orlando Magic in the Serge Ibaka trade, so that could dampen the possibility of Waiters’ return.
Waiters has a scorer’s mentality but takes a lot of awful shots. He averaged 9.8 points and shot 39. 9 percent from the floor along with 35.8 percent from beyond the arc last season. The 24-year-old averages 12.8 points and shoots 41.1 percent from the field for his career.
Philadelphia currently only has $24.5 million in guaranteed salary on the books. Kendall Marshall, Robert Covington, Jerami Grant, and T.J. McConnell all have non-guaranteed deals for next season. Hollis Thompson has a team option, which the Sixers must decide by tomorrow whether to exercise it or not. Isaiah Canaan (restricted), Christian Wood (restricted), Ish Smith, and Elton Brand are the team’s free agents.
Philadelphia has signed two players, Sean Long and James Webb III, to two-year deals that are partially guaranteed. In addition, draft and stash prospect Dario Saric may be coming over from Europe this season.
[Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo]