The Philadelphia 76ers will have their choice of top free agents to bring in during the 2018 period. With the Sixers set at point guard, power forward, and center, their main area of concern will be the shooting guard position. There are a few good names who will be available, including Will Barton, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Seth Curry, and Tyreke Evans. However, there’s one many have forgotten about due to his health issues this season with the Chicago Bulls. The Sixers would be wise to pursue the high-flying Zach LaVine.
With J.J. Redick’s $23 million set to come off the books, the 76ers will need someone explosive to pair with Ben Simmons in the backcourt. Markell Fultz may be the answer here, but there’s no telling what effect his injured shoulder will have on the rest of his career. Adding LaVine could ease a lot of the Sixers’ issues. Adding another perimeter player will be beneficial since Robert Covington is struggling this season and Simmons is refusing to take any. LaVine could easily do for the Sixers what Andre Iguodala did before he was traded.
The bulk of the offense will still run through Embiid and Simmons. However, having someone who can defend, use his handles to get to the rim, and finish with power is a trait that’s been missing on the Sixers roster for the past few years. Before his injury, LaVine was just coming into his own with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was trying his best to shed the moniker of “just a dunker,” much like Aaron Gordon was able to do for the Orlando Magic this season.
In his last season with the Timberwolves in 2016, LaVine averaged 18.9 points on 46 percent shooting. But the Timberwolves decided to go in another direction and packaged LaVine in a trade for Jimmy Butler. This season, LaVine was shelved much of the year, but since his return to the Bulls, he’s been on quite a tear lately. In his 14 games, LaVine is averaging 16.9 points in 24 minutes while shooting 40 percent from the floor. It will take a while until he’s able to get his legs back under him, but when he’s at his productive peak, LaVine’s athleticism is a sight to behold.
— NBA (@NBA) February 10, 2018
With the Bulls in complete rebuild mode, they may try to throw a huge contract his way. This is where the success of the Sixers’ season will come into play. The Sixers can dangle a chance at a championship, a youth movement, and a city who’s ready to back them. The Bulls are not ready to contend yet, and they have no figures as big as Simmons and Embiid on their team. LaVine is on the books to make just $3.2 million, but the Bulls can give him a qualifying offer of $4.4 million for 2018, according to Spotrac. If LaVine declines, then the Sixers would have no choice but to sign him and hope the Bulls won’t match their offer.
LaVine is still young (22), has been in the league only four seasons, and will fit right into the Sixers’ plans. Adding LaVine is a move that must be made where the Sixers will not be forced to hand over any draft picks (only if Bulls match) and not spend a ton of money like they did for Redick. This is where Colangelo must swing for the fences.