The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a 20-year executive with the Nets, examines the offseason plans for teams that didn’t make the postseason.
THE PLAN GOING FORWARD
Develop a culture to attract free agents
Having cap space doesn’t guarantee anything.
Which free agent this summer is going to be the first player to buy into the 76ers?
Management needs to be honest with prospective players and communicate where the team will be next season and what the long-term plan is.
The person management should sell free agents on is coach Brett Brown. The former Spurs assistant coach, who signed an extension this past season, has a tireless work ethic and a never-quit attitude. Brown could be the X-factor with free agents.
Once a culture is set, recruiting players for the future becomes much easier.
Don’t swing for the fences
With cap space, a treasure chest of draft picks and some young building blocks, 76ers management needs to get in the business of hitting singles and doubles. Pushing chips to the middle of the table and going hunting for big names is not what Philadelphia should do. If that happens, the 76ers could be back to Square One in the rebuilding process.
The previous three seasons showed Philadelphia in asset-acquisition mode and not focused on improving the on-court product. The key for Philadelphia is finding that fine line to improve the basketball talent but not risk its key assets.
The foundation is in place for Philadelphia to begin taking the next steps to relevancy.
Play in meaningful games next season
Although the goal for every team is to the make the playoffs, the mindset for Philadelphia next season should be to put its players in position to play meaningful games after Jan. 1.
It can be easy for players to stand out on the court when the team is 10-60 or down 20 points going into the fourth quarter. However, what happens when the lights get a little bit brighter and the stage is more magnified?
Playing for something that counts, other than lottery seeding, is the only way management can evaluate the roster properly.
Success in the lottery
The lottery has not been kind to Philadelphia the past three seasons.
Does that change next month?
Although the talent in this draft is not as good as last season, landing two picks in the top six would be considered a coup. Besides potentially having the No. 1 pick, Philadelphia could have the Lakers’ pick if it falls outside the top three.
Philadelphia has some roster juggling to do this summer.
With six players guaranteed, five non-guaranteed and potentially up to four first-round picks, the 76ers’ roster could stand at 15 before July 1. This, of course, does not factor in close to $50 million in cap space and 2014 first-round pick Dario Saric, who is likely to join the 76ers this summer.
Cluttered with rotational players and former lottery picks, the 76ers have a need at each position.
The biggest need for Philadelphia is finding a backcourt.
Trading for Ish Smith in December gave the 76ers a jolt of energy at point guard. Smith gave Philadelphia a starting point to begin the evaluation period with Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. With Smith a free agent and a small pool of free-agent guards available, Philadelphia will find the open market challenging.
The one avenue Philadelphia could pursue is packaging some of its picks in the 20s for NBA-ready players. Teams without draft picks could be interested in a deal.
The big question is the health of former first-round pick Joel Embiid. Even if Embiid recovers from the foot injuries that have sidelined him the past two seasons, putting Okafor or Noel on the open market should not be the course of action. Embiid’s health is simply too much of a risk.
SUMMER CAP BREAKDOWN
1. Carl Landry
2. Joel Embiid
3. Jahlil Okafor
4. Nerlens Noel
Rookie extension eligible
5. Nick Stauskas
6. Richaun Holmes
7. Kendall Marshall
8. Jerami Grant
9. Robert Covington
10. Hollis Thompson
11. T.J. McConnell
FA cap holds
11. Ish Smith
13. Elton Brand
14. Isaiah Canaan
Restricted/full Bird rights
15. Christian Wood
16. Own pick, No. 1
17. Okla. City, No. 26
18. Miami, No. 24
19. Dario Saric, No. 12
FA cap holds
PROJECTED CAP SPACE
Along with the Lakers and Nets, Philadelphia will be one of the teams with the most cap space this summer. The 76ers are projected to have almost $50 million in room, which could increase based on the five non-guaranteed contracts on the books and the resolution of the free-agent cap holds on Smith, Elton Brand and Isaiah Canaan.
Philadelphia has the market cornered on cap space, draft picks and young players. Now it just needs to put together a roster to compete every night.
JUNE DRAFT PICKS
First round: Own No. 1 selection with the right to swap with Sacramento; has picks from Miami and Oklahoma City; has Lakers’ selection (Nos. 4-30).
Second round: To Boston.
2017: Own or can swap with Sacramento (if not first sent to Chicago); potentially has Lakers selection (Nos. 4-30).
2018: Own; has Sacramento’s selection (Nos. 11-30) if 2017 isn’t sent to Chicago; potentially has Lakers pick (unprotected) in 2017 or 2018.
2019: Own; has Sacramento’s pick (unprotected) if the Kings send a first to Chicago in 2017.
Own all first-round picks.
Rights to: Dario Saric (No. 12 selection, 2014); Vasilije Micic (No. 52 selection, 2014).
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