On paper, the Philadelphia 76ers should have been set up to enter the 2021-2022 season as one of the most talented teams in the Eastern Conference. After a disappointing and premature end to the playoffs, Philly’s biggest potential outgoing free agents could be Danny Green, Dwight Howard and Furkan Korkmaz – not exactly a star-powered trio in their prime, though many fans fell for Green last season.
If not for the epic way the Sixers blew multiple big leads in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks and the well-chronicled shooting and scoring struggles from Ben Simmons, then the idea of the team mostly standing pat this summer behind the trio of Simmons, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris wouldn’t seem too far-fetched. Obviously, that will not be the case.
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While the organization will welcome in a few new faces via the upcoming NBA draft and all eyes will continue to furiously monitor the Simmons and Damian Lillard trade rumors, free agency is also sure to have a massive impact on who is calling the Wells Fargo Center home next season.
Will the Sixers Sign Another Australian Point Guard This Summer?
Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia wrote an article Tuesday that went over six players the Sixers could consider via free agency that fall under the taxpayer mid-level exception.
“The Sixers currently have a little over $100 million committed next season to the trio of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris, making it likely the team will again be over the luxury tax threshold and have the taxpayer mid-level exception as an option,” Levick wrote. “The taxpayer mid-level exception, which can be used to sign multiple players, is set at approximately $5.9 million this season.”
Among the guys Levick says the 76ers should keep their eye on are Bobby Portis of the Milwaukee Bucks, Reggie Bullock of the New York Knicks, and Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs. Portis is 26, has a $3.8 player option for next year, and has spent his entire career in the Eastern Conference.
Despite his team being one win from an NBA title, if Howard leaves Philly this summer, Portis would certainly be a fit with the Sixers.
Bullock started 64 of his 65 games for a surprisingly solid Knicks team this past season and put up decent numbers. The 30-year-old set career-highs in games played, games started, three-pointers per game (2.5), and rebounds per contest (3.4), while also shooting a deadly 41% from outside.
“He’s the type of player who fits in just about any setting. While not as effective at forcing turnovers as fellow UNC product Danny Green, he’d fill a similar role,” Levick wrote.
Mills is the elder statesman of the six-man crew in the post at 32, but still seems to have some good years left in him. He’s been insanely durable and efficient over his 12-season career, appearing in at least 50 games in all but one year since his rookie season, including at least 66 contests in six straight seasons.
Depending on how things look for the rest of the Sixers roster come next season, Mills could be the third Australian on the club too, joining Simmons and fellow defensive stud Matisse Thybulle.
Does the Doc Rivers Connection Lead to a Montrezl Harrell Signing?
The other three players could all potentially fit nicely into the Sixers rotation next season, again, depending on how the draft and trade season go.
Indiana Pacers forward Doug “McBuckets” McDermott has been discussed as a target for the Sixers on Heavy before. Still conceivably in his prime at 29 years old and coming off of a career year, the former Creighton star may not come cheap to whichever team lands him.
Arguably the most intriguing name on Levick’s list is Los Angeles Lakers big man Montrezl Harrell. The 2019-2020 Sixth Man of the Year under then-Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has an upcoming $9.7 million player option.
“If he hits free agency, the 27-year-old’s connections with [Sixers president Daryl] Morey and Sixers head coach Doc Rivers could perhaps play a role in his decision-making about what’s next,” Levick wrote. “Morey and the Rockets took him early in the second round of the 2015 NBA draft, while Rivers coached him for three seasons on the Clippers, including Harrell’s 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year campaign.”
Last is another guy who can play either the four or the five in former Gonzaga great Kelly Olynyk. The Canadian-born 30-year-old is coming off of a season split between the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets, where he combined to average 13.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in 70 contests, and could be a bench option in the frontcourt.