Just before the Sixers hired Sam Hinkie, I wrote a Free Agency Preview in which I didn't preview free agency. The options were ridiculously limited for a team trying to scrape its way out of Mediocracy (TM), especially with a head coach that couldn't identify the difference a player worthy of a 4-year-deal and a blind obese ferret. But then Josh Harris jumped aboard Sam Hinkie's fine ass wagon and we're worlds away from that game of Ken Griffey Jr. baseball I explained in detail.
I will always maintain that free agency is not the best way to build a team (SUP DRAFT), but to fill in the holes, it's not a bad option. The Sixers, however, will be using it to take a few flyers on some misfit toys and spend enough to hit the salary cap floor. Popular opinion suggests the Sixers will carefully avoid winning too many games this year with a deeper focus on 2014 and beyond.
Before I jump in, I'd like to make something clear. The Sixers will not be publicly tanking. They're not going to sign Speedy Claxton to a one-year, $11M deal just to hit the cap floor and call it a day. Hinkie will look for a collection of cheap assets that, yes, may actually help the Sixers win a few games this year. It is irrational to think that the Sixers front office is so allergic to winning this year that they'd actively sign players that will hurt their chances of winning. Make sure you're aware of that as the Sixers ask a few good(ish) basketball players to play in Philadelphia.
There still aren't many super exciting unrestricted free agents to be had, but even if there were, they wouldn't be worthwhile options for the Sixers. So I'll run through a list of my five favorite UFAs that I'd like Hinkie to target.
1. GREG ODEN
You knew it was coming, so I may as well get it out of the way. A healthy Greg Oden is a Top 5 center in the NBA, if I'm being stingy. A healthy Greg Oden with a little more development is a Top 20 player in the NBA.
Would a Greg Oden and Nerlens Noel frontcourt work? IDGAF. This would be the most outrageous pairing. I'm sweating all over the keyboard thinking about it. One of them would maybe have to learn how to shoot a jumper. Or just have Nerlens at the high post and Greg in the post with MCW and two shooters on the wings. I'm getting ahead of myself. Oh God, I just bought a Greg Oden Sixers shirsey.
I have no idea what Greg will get on the open market. If I were Sam Hinkie (I am), I would see what other teams were offering him and give him one more year than that at a little less money. And then I'd probably tell him to sit out the 2013 season until every doctor in Philadelphia has cleared him. Cardiovascular, Ear, Nose and Throat, Optometric, Dre... all of 'em but Julius.
2. DORELL WRIGHT
Hey, this sounds more realistic. We know all about Dorell, and I think most of us agree that he was pretty undervalued by Herr Doug Collins last season. He can shoot the hell out of the ball, rebound a bit, and not be a liability on defense. He also played point guard that one game, which doesn't get him as much street cred as Wilson Valdez on the mound or Roy Oswalt in left, but maybe it should.
I don't know what the market will be like for him, but compared to the other pair of shooters I have on this list, he's likely to command a larger salary. I would not be opposed to giving him 2-3 years worth about $4-5M. That's a tradable asset and one that will take pressure off guys like Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel. If he's hitting threes, there's more room for everybody else to operate.
Wouldn't mind seeing his friendly face returning, but it wouldn't crush me if he went anywhere else, either.
3. BRANDAN WRIGHT
I've never quite went to a Jerel McNeal or Jerryd Bayless level with my love for Brandan, but he's a guy I've been heavily crushing on since his time at UNC. Maybe it's that second A. That's such a flirty A.
Stat geeks like Brandan because he does nothing but score around the basket. He won't be a guy you want playing for more than 15 minutes a game, but for a quick and painless 2-year deal, this is what we want. He'll block some shots, body some dudes, and be left-handed. What more can we ask for?
Hopefully Sam clears out some space on the bench of frontcourt castoffs to make room for guys like Wright and some of the Summer League invitees.
4. ANTHONY MORROW/REGGIE WILLIAMS
These guys are basically the same person, so I want the Sixers to consider them like they're a package deal.
You know why I want them. Lights out shooters coming off some bad years. They wouldn't be so cheap if they were playing well. Give them a chance. Bombs away. Corner threes and VMI references forever.
Make it happen, Hinkieface.
5. BENO UDRIH
I wish I could see the look on your face right now. BAM. SHOCKER. HUGE. CURVEBALL.
Beno Udrih just feels like a guy who should be the backup point guard on these rebuilding Sixers. He made $7.8M last year (OH GOD BUCKS WHY), but I can't imagine anyone will pay him that much at age 30, coming off a year where he shot 40% from the field post-trade to Orlando.
I like the idea that he's A) Tallish for a point guard, B) Capable of shooting relatively well sometimes, C) Left-handed, and D) Named Beno Udrih.
Give him a year at $5M or so and let him take off-balance runners for a year while we make puns about it. Sold?
Stick around for all sorts of Free Agency rumors. Nary a peep so far, but I'm sure we'll have a HINKIEBOMB before long.