Important note to start this off. This isn't about Evan Turner right now. This isn't about how you think Evan is as a player, the likelihood that he succeeds or fails, or really anything about him at all. Do not flock to the comments to defend or condemn Evan because that is not what this is about.
With that said, we can philosophically discuss options the Sixers have. Right now, they've got a ton of cap room and a lot of team-friendly contracts. Andrew Bynum will likely be locked up for five more years. Jrue Holiday will not get a max contract, but he'll get something and I believe it'll be in Philadelphia. Thaddeus Young has two years and a player option after this season totaling $27.5M over the next three seasons. All Turner has is a team option and a qualifying offer. Should they choose not to pick it up, he would become a free agent.
Sixers brass will base their decision on what to do with ET by how he plays this season. Let us assume, for the sake of discussion, that he sucks. Badly. Doesn't get efficiency up, doesn't work with Bynum, defense is only middling, spars with Collins -- whatever. Doesn't matter. For our purposes, he has sucked enough to the point where they don't think he is one of the three franchise cornerstones they were hoping he'd be.
The Sixers can let him walk, declining his option and making him a free agent. That doesn't exactly maximize their investment on the former 2nd overall pick, but it does clear more cap space to go after free agents. They could pick up the option then trade him, but the return on that wouldn't be excellent considering we're under the assumption that Evan has played poorly. I think someone would give him a chance, especially if they're willing to roll the dice on him as a point guard, but the market wouldn't be booming with great offers.
What's the plan after that? I'm quite confident in Jrue stepping his game up this year and becoming a 2nd tier point guard -- good enough to win a championship with Bynum. But they're still missing a few key members of the core and that'll mean free agency is where they'll have to find them.
Unless Nick Young takes a huge step forward this year and they sign him to a new deal. Or Dorell Wright rebounds from last year in Golden State and he gets rewarded with a fresh contract. Or maybe they think Jason Richardson still has enough left in the tank to be the best wing on a contending team. I certainly don't. Regardless, they'll have to go out and get somebody that can defend.
I still think power forward is a huge issue for this team. I don't believe in Thad as a long-term starting option there and I certainly don't think he's got the tools to start at the 3. Paul Millsap is a guy I've been circling for years and he's my ideal candidate for Sixers free agent splash this offseason. That would certainly shore up the frontcourt with Thad, Lavoy Allen, and Arnett Moultrie coming off the bench.
But from a wing position, it looks like at least one of Dorell Wright or Nick Young will have to step up in a big way to replace the hole that Turner would leave. I don't think they have enough cap space to sign a power forward, Bynum, Jrue, and both of those guys to longish deals. J-Rich's contract would be difficult to move until at least the trade deadline next season. He's going to be around.
So basically, if the Sixers are thinking contention in 2013-14 and beyond, they're going to need one of Turner, Wright, or Young to become very good. Richardson should be serviceable at the other guard spot, but won't be leading a team any time soon. Power forward is still a need, and they'll be running out of cap space soon enough.
The best situation would be Turner improving, obviously, but all hope is not lost if he doesn't get there. They smartly took care of some contingency plans. Hopefully one of them pays off.