NBA Rumors: Suns Big Man Headlines 5 ‘Tough Guys’ Sixers Should Target

Javale McGee

Getty Suns center JaVale McGee is a "tough guy" free agent who would look good backing up Joel Embiid next season.

The biggest buzzword coming out of the mouths of Sixers players following their Game 6 loss to Miami was toughness. The team lacked both physical toughness and mental toughness in that series. And it was probably true for the regular season as Philadelphia got by on the pure dominance of Joel Embiid on most nights.

With a long offseason looming ahead, Sixers brass will have to reconfigure the roster a bit. Danny Green could be gone. Paul Millsap and DeAndre Jordan may retire. And Shake Milton is a free agent, although the Sixers own his Bird Rights.

James Harden? Well, he’s expected to sign a max contract — Harden said he’d be back, ditto for Sixers president Daryl Morey — and commit to the franchise for the next five years. But the Sixers have to fill in around him.

And the team would be wise to look for some savvy veterans in free agency and via the trade market — they need to go get some “tough guys” as Embiid alluded to in his post-game press conference on May 12.

“We’ve had a few tough guys since I’ve been here, I can recall Mike Scott. When you have size and toughness, that goes a long way,” Embiid said. “Since I’ve been here I’d be lying if I said we had those types of guys. Nothing against what we have, it’s just the truth. We never have P.J. Tucker, that’s really what I’m trying to say.”

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5 NBA ‘Tough Guys’ for Sixers to Target

Embiid said it so let’s examine what options could be available to the Sixers this offseason in free agency or trade. Let’s start with one-time NBA champion P.J. Tucker, shall we?

P.J. Tucker: It was kind of odd to hear so many Sixers players casually drop Tucker’s name into conversations. They painted him as the embodiment of toughness and the key difference-maker in the Miami series. Well, Tucker signed a two-year deal ($14.35 million) with the Heat last offseason. He has a player option for the 2022-23 campaign, one he’s likely to exercise and return to South Beach.

However, Tucker could be reading Embiid’s comments and seeing dollar signs in his sleep. He could opt out and lobby the Sixers for a lucrative long-term extension if he wants a change of scenery. Remember, Tucker and Harden are former teammates and friends from their Houston days alongside Daryl Morey.

Patrick Beverley: The Timberwolves’ defensive stopper is under contract in Minnesota through 2023 but he certainly sounded like a guy lobbying to join the Sixers during media appearances on ESPN where he vehemently defended James Harden and Doc Rivers. Beverley — a 6-foot-1 point guard who played for Rivers in Los Angeles — is due $13 million next season.

Philadelphia would have to get creative in a trade to acquire him, but it’s not out of the question. Bleacher Report proposed sending Tobias Harris to Minnesota in exchange for Beverley and Malik Beasley. Or maybe a smaller deal, like swapping Matisse Thybulle — the Timberwolves desperately need defensive help — for Beverley and a draft pick gets it done.

JaVale McGee: The Sixers’ confusion at the backup center spot was obvious following the loss of Andre Drummond. No disrespect to Paul Reed, of course. The team is hoping that Charles Bassey develops into the main minutes’ filler behind Joel Embiid but he’s a work in progress. That’s why McGee makes so much sense.

The 7-footer was a revelation for the Suns this season, averaging 9.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game while letting starter Deandre Ayton rest. He’s an unrestricted free agent coming off an insanely cheap one-year, $5 million contract. The Sixers should have McGee’s agent on speed dial.

Marcus Morris: Another guy who spent time in Doc Rivers’ system would provide certifiable street cred to the Sixers. First off, Morris is a Philly native who attended Prep Charter and played his college ball at Kansas, coincidentally Embiid’s alma mater. He even liked a recent Twitter post teasing a happy homecoming.

The 6-foot-8 forward is a flat-out bully: he loves talking trash and mixing it up to the point of fisticuffs. That’s a good thing. Problem is, Morris is under contract in Los Angeles until 2024 at an expensive rate of $16 million per year. Philadelphia would have to free up money via a trade — would an offer of Danny Green and Furkan Korkmaz get it done? It’s worth a shot.

Andre Iguodala: Yes, this would be more of a sentimental move for the three-time NBA champion (and borderline Hall of Famer). The Sixers chose Iguodala with the No. 9 overall pick way back in 2004 and he spent his first eight seasons in Philly, mostly trying to step out of Allen Iverson’s large shadow.

The 38-year-old has been an asset everywhere he’s been since leaving town as a defensive stopper and consistent three-point shooter while serving as a coach on the floor. Does he want to come back for his 19th NBA season? That remains to be seen. He gave the Warriors 19.5 minutes per game in 31 contests in a very specific role.

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