The Sixers have a ton of cap space. We all know that. However, we seem to be a little to anxious to throw money at expirings to pick up assets without realizing a) there are 15 other teams with the combination of cap space/expectations to take on a bad contract, and b) Hinkie doesn't really have a blank check when asking for assets. Expiring contracts are not toxic to a team, and the only reason to shed one is if you are attempting to add players that would make you a legitimate contender, or to add to an already contending team. The Bulls are a contending team with Melo, but that ship has now sailed. And teams like the Lakers, Warriors, Wolves, and Knicks either don't have much to offer or are in asset-hoarding mode themselves. It's just not very easy to make these deals, especially when Hinkie doesn't have control of other teams thought processes. People are upset about the Randolph deal, and the Sixers not getting involved, but what if Chicago's first and only call was to Orlando? Hinkie has no control over things of this nature. Which is why I continue to be patient.
While the NBA off-season breeds hope, the NBA trade deadline breeds desperation. Every year about 1/3 of the league's GMs are on the hot seat, and when the promise of playoffs or even a title appear to be falling short, many teams begin scouring the league for talent to add to their roster. This is when our cap space could become invaluable, even more so than it currently is. Last season, Hinkie added Danny Granger, Eric Maynor, Earl Clark, Byron Mullens and Henry Sims while dumping real NBA player Spencer Hawes and gas-guzzling Evan Turner, while acquiring five second-rounders for their trouble. Sims may be the best long-term piece in any of those deals after his stellar play last season, but those second rounders yielded our heroes that are now showing us how great they are in Vegas. The total salary the Sixers took back was around 25 million, while giving up under 15. So for ten million in mostly expiring money that got Philly to the salary floor, they were able to net six possible contributors on future teams. This is why I have faith that this cap space will be put to good use one way or another, whether it be now or at the deadline.
An interesting aside, what the hell are the Sixers gonna do after next season? If Thad opts out (NOOO!!) or is traded, we could be looking at as little as $20-$25 million in committed salary/cap charges, depending on where their picks land. That leaves about $43-$48 MILLION in cap space, with the projected cap jump. While this is the lowest-money scenario, this raises the question of how the hell do they sit on that space? They could play facilitator again, but this off-season hasn't yielded much, and every season there are less truly awful contracts to dump. They could go after free agents, but who would want to play in Philly after another losing season, despite the promise the future holds? Hinkie could overpay guys to come here, but I'm not sure he has any motive to do so. Even if Thad opts in, that still leaves more room than they have right now. I've heard people say they don't want to see the Sixers take on a Kevin Martin-type contract, but why not? There's no way they use all that space on free agents, so why not get assets for it? We'll see how Hinkie plays this, but it's certainly a great problem to have.
So is there anything the Sixers could do this off-season to try and improve for now and the future? I really think signing Bledsoe would be a great addition, as he is already a great defender and has flashed potential on offense, while proving he can play in a two-PG offense. However, as a RFA, I'm not sure the Suns will let him get away. Monroe doesn't really fit with the plethora of bigs already in the fold. They could look to add young, cheap flyers like Jordan Hamilton, Al-Farouq Aminu, Xavier Henry, Doron Lamb or Marshon Brooks. Lamb, Henry and Brooks all bring a touch of shooting to the table that would be nice on this team, and Hamilton and Aminu are analytics favorites that could be key role players down the road. Or, they could try and go for Lance Stephenson. I believe Stephenson will end up back in Indy, but based on how long things are dragging out, Indy isn't wowing Stephenson and based on their recent addition of C.J. Miles, they could be prepping for life without Lance. The fit in Philly, position-wise, is great. Lance is a true two who can run the point when needed. He's a very good defender that is an underrated shooter and passer, and a bulldog going to the bucket. And he's only 23. His flaws are obvious. He's the epitome of erratic on the court, and not the best teammate off the court, judging by the comments made in his team's locker room during the season, and the lack of an endorsement from Paul George after it. He could be a cancer for younger players, or he could emerge as a dominant, two-way force that is the best perimeter player on a great young team devoid of a wing presence. This fan base would embrace Lance's toughness, but his antics may(do) need a little toning down. And with a change of scenery and a more relaxed, well-structured environment (Not to say Indy is a bad organization) Stephenson could thrive as a player and person. In less words, I won't not be excited if Lance comes to Philly.
The Sixers have as many options as any other team in the league. And while they've yet to use their cap space for much thus far, they certainly have plenty of opportunities to do so in the coming future. The Sixers are going to be one of the most fascinating teams to follow over the next few years, as Sam Hinkie has become a basketball cult rock-star, and Joel Embiid continues to rise up the ranks of must-follow twitter accounts (hard to argue he's not top-5 right now.) It will be interesting to see how well Nerlens and his flat top mesh with MCW, and how he continues to grow in his own right. He showed promise last season, but needs to be more efficient and a generally better defender. As a fan myself, there are only a couple other organizations I'd trade places with as a fan, and I think it's something we should all be excited about.