NBA free agency 2021: Answering key Sixers questions

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Answering key questions ahead of free agency for Sixers originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The NBA draft is in the rearview mirror, but the Sixers still have quite a few important decisions to come.

With free agency almost here, let’s review several fundamental questions for the next major offseason event on the NBA schedule:

When does free agency start? 

Players can officially begin to negotiate with teams beginning at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, although reports of agreed-upon deals should surface very soon after 6. Free agents can start signing contracts at 12:01 p.m. on Friday. 

What is the Sixers’ salary cap situation? 

With 11 players under contract, the Sixers have approximately $131.9 million of taxable salary, per Spotrac. The luxury tax threshold for the 2021-22 season is $136.6 million. The Sixers are likely to be a taxpaying team, which would give them access to the $5.9 million taxpayer midlevel exception, a tool that can be used to sign one or multiple players. 

The Sixers have an $8.2 million trade exception from the Al Horford/Danny Green deal.

Another figure to keep in mind is the luxury tax apron of approximately $142 million. If the Sixers — or any team — acquires a player via a sign-and-trade, they’re hard capped at that number. 

And one more salary-related item to keep an eye on: George Hill is currently guaranteed about $1.3 million for next season. His salary of $10 million would be fully guaranteed on Tuesday, per Spotrac.

Which free agents do the Sixers have? 

The team’s unrestricted free agents are Danny Green, Dwight Howard, Furkan Korkmaz and Mike Scott. We touched on those players’ situations here.

The Los Angeles Times’ Broderick Turner reported Howard, the Sixers’ only free-agent signing last offseason, is “ready to return” to the Lakers.

It’s difficult to assess the likelihood of Green and/or Korkmaz coming back to Philadelphia without knowing yet how the team will handle bigger moves. For instance, giving Green a hefty contract would likely push the Sixers up against (or over) the tax apron. That would either close the door on a potential sign-and-trade for a player like Kyle Lowry or make it trickier. 

What sorts of players should they target? 

Lowry is one of the league’s hottest names. If the Sixers had a blank slate and money wasn’t a factor, Lowry would be valuable as a steadying half-court ball handler, three-point shooter and “been there, done that” kind of leader. The financial challenges are worth considering, but there’s a lot to like about Lowry — no question. 

However, NBA reporter Marc Stein reported Sunday that Miami is viewed as the favorite to land the 35-year-old. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski later reported the Heat are "positioning themselves to become front-runners" for Lowry. 

Ben Simmons’ future hangs over almost every bigger-picture Sixers matter. Nevertheless, the Sixers could benefit on paper from players who do some of the following: qualify as an outside shooting threat; provide frontcourt depth; generate perimeter offense; avoid frequent turnovers. 

Retroactively addressing flaws from last season isn’t necessarily the best approach, though. The blunt answer here is any player who’s good for the cost is almost certainly a decent addition. Don’t expect the Sixers’ three draft picks — guard Jaden Springer and big men Filip Petrušev and Charles Bassey — to influence the team’s game plan with free agents. 

Who have the Sixers been linked to? 

There has not been a ton out there yet related to the Sixers and free agency, unless you count the constant attention on Simmons and Lowry. 

The New York Post’s Marc Berman reported the Sixers, Celtics and Lakers had interest in Knicks wing Reggie Bullock. A starter for New York last year, Bullock would check that three-point shooting box (41 percent in 2020-21) and be helpful defensively, especially if the Sixers part with Simmons and/or Green. 

Combing through our lists of possible Sixers taxpayer mid-level exception and veteran minimum options, here are a few players who might make sense for specific roles:

  • Backup big men: Kelly Olynyk, Gorgui Dieng 

  • Starting-caliber or high-level bench wing shooters: Bullock, Doug McDermott 

  • Second-unit perimeter offensive players: Patty Mills, Wayne Ellington, Austin Rivers

  • Interesting moves for the minimum: Sterling Brown, Semi Ojeleye, Harry Giles