With Sam Hinkie at the helm over the past couple years, the team has unloaded a number of chunky contracts – Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young – while not taking on anything significant back. In making these moves, Hinkie virtually cleared the books for the Sixers, providing them with ample space to sign free agents, both now and down the road, while not having any substantial financial ties moving forward.
Theoretically, this ample amount of cap space should provide the Sixers with a tactical advantage over other teams with less space when it comes to acquiring free agents. With all the space amassed, the Sixers could potentially offer more money than other suitors, or sign a couple of high-priced talents simultaneously.
If the league’s salary cap was going to remain consistent for the foreseeable future, that would be the case, as the Sixers would have financial flexibility that not many other teams would enjoy. However, with the incoming cap jump – the salary cap is supposed to jump to $108 million for the 2017-18 season – all teams will see their overall cap space balloon, as they will suddenly have increased space with which to operate spend on players. The Sixers will eventually benefit from the salary jump, as will all teams, but in the meantime, it kind of nullifies the space the team has amassed in the present.
Still though, the first jump in the cap doesn’t take place until after next season – the cap jumps from $67 million to $89 million after next season –so the Sixers still have a cap space advantage this summer, should they choose to use it. The team only has a handful of players with guaranteed money on the roster for next season, and that roster will obviously need to be filled out.
This summer may provide the Sixers with an opportunity to use their cap space to add some solid, established guys to the young, talented team they are in the midst of developing. The Sixers likely won’t be able to land the big name guys, but it can’t hurt to try. Plus, you have to take into account the fact that players won’t be wanting to sign long-term deals the summer with the prospect of a bigger pay day next summer. Still though, a young, talented roster, combined with big money in the present, and the prospect of a mega-contract right around the corner could be enticing to some.
Guys like Kawhi Leonard (RFA) and Jimmy Butler (RFA) are obvious targets, and project to fit well with the Sixers as currently constructed, but in all likelihood their respective teams will pay top dollar to keep them around, likely matching anything the Sixers would offer. A little lower down the free agent totem pole however, there are some intriguing options; guys that could potentially fit well with the franchise moving forward, and that the Sixers could potentially land.
Draymond Green (RFA) is one name that sticks out. Green had a breakout season with the Western Conference Champion Warriors this year, and he may be looking for a nice pay day – one that the Warriors wouldn’t be able to oblige – this summer. Green is a multi-faceted forward who can defend multiple positions. He could potentially fit well next to a frontcourt of Embiid and Noel, as he is not a primary offensive option. The question with Green however is if his skill set will work as well elsewhere outside of the system in Golden State.
Wesley Matthews (UFA) is another player worth looking at. Matthews was having a stellar season as a key piece to the playoff-bound Blazers, before injury issues prematurely ended his season. He is a prototypical two-guard who can knock down the three, space the floor, and most importantly, defend. His size and ability to play both sides of the ball would make you think he is the type of guy Hinkie would like to have filling the Sixers’ currently vacant two-guard spot. The Blazers will likely do their best to retain Matthews’ services, but it will be interesting to see if his injury lowered his overall stock at all in a way that the Sixers could capitalize on.
There are a few other perimeter players that the Sixers could take a look at, including Khris Middleton (RFA), Tobias Harris (RFA), DeMarre Carrol (UFA), and Danny Green (UFA).
While any big free-agent signings for the SIxers are still likely a year or two down the road, the team has copious cap space, and plenty of players to pursue should they feel like spending some change this summer. Considering the impending salary jump, and the potential benefits of adding some talented, experienced players to the young, developing core of the team, it seems that (wisely) pursuing free agency is something the Sixers could strongly consider this summer.
Michael Kaskey-Blomain is a scribe for Philadunkia. You can follow him on Twitter @therealmikeKB.
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