The past month has been all about the draft and the coaching search, but there's another aspect of the off-season we've yet to discuss: Free Agency.
The basketball universe has been anticipating the summer of 2010 for years. Unfortunately the Sixers are in no position to make any of the big names (LeBron, Wade, Bosh) an offer, but that doesn't mean they can't have a productive summer.
Ownership's reluctancy to pay the luxury tax is obviously a large obstacle, but rumor has it that Ed Snider is willing to open up his checkbook if he believes there's an opportunity to build "a winner". And if his first two moves this off-season (swallowing Eddie Jordan's contract and hiring Doug Collins) are any indication, it sounds like he's ready to spend.
The Sixers have zero cap space, but have both the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions available, along with the ability to sign veterans to the veteran's minimum. With that in mind, here's the Sixers' guide to a successful free agency ...
Last month I broke down the Sixers' biggest needs. Since they were awarded the number two pick, it's almost a guarantee they'll fill one those needs (Mr. Isolation with Turner or Dalembert's replacement with Favors) in the draft. However; it's unlikely either of the remaining needs are filled with bargain basement free agents, so here's a new list of needs in regards to cheap free agents:
Backup Point Guard - At the moment Lou Williams and Willie Green are the backup point guards. The problem is, neither is a point guard. Both are two-guards in a one-guard's body, and neither do much, but score. Jrue Holiday is locked into the starting role and guaranteed 30+ minutes per game, but a true backup point to give him a breather every once in a while would be nice.
Rebounding/Defensive Big off the bench - Outside of Sam Dalembert and Mo Speights the Sixers had zero big men who rated average-to-above average in defensive rebounding. And outside of Dalembert, they had zero big men who played any defense. Sifting through the free agent bargain bin might prevent the Sixers from finding a big who provides both, but either would be an upgrade.
Shooter - The Sixers already have two shooters - Jason Kapono and Jodie Meeks. Kapono does nothing well outside of spot-up shooting. He's on the books for 7 million dollars, and his contract expires at the end of next year. Jodie is undersized, but based on what he showed last year, his defense isn't half bad and he can score in different ways. He's also a cheap/young option. The question becomes, were the 19 games he played with the Sixers the real Jodie Meeks? Is he better? Worse? It'd be awesome if Jodie turned out to be the shooter we've all wanted since Korver left, but he's an unknown commodity at this point. Plus, this team needs more than one shooter.
The Sixers have two free agents of their own: Rodney Carney and Francisco Elson.
Rodney Carney - I'd love to see Rodney Carney re-signed for the veteran's minimum. He's a solid defender, he's a good rebounder for his position, he fits the team's identity - defense + transition offense - and he has the capability of getting hot from deep. I expect him to continue to be a solid bench player in this league for years to come. But will he re-sign for the veteran's minimum, and/or want more minutes?
Francisco Elson - Despite Frozone's sheer awesomeness, he should not be re-signed.
I compiled a list of 2010 free agents who I thought filled a need and/or are affordable, considering the Sixers' cap situation. Here's the full list of free agents if you're interested.
Point Guards - Shuan Livingston, Sergio Rodriguez, Earl Watson, Kyle Lowry, Rafer Alston, Acie Law, and Carlos Arroyo.
Shooting Guards - Raja Bell, Anthony Morrow, and Ronnie Brewer.
Small Forwards - Kyle Korver, Mike Miller, Rasual Butler, and Travis Outlaw.
Power Forwards - Craig Smith, Anthony Tolliver, Shelden Williams, Lou Amundson, Sean May, and Joey Dorsey.
Centers - Brendan Haywood, Amir Johnson, Johan Petro, Hilton Armstong, Ian Mahinmi, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Patrick O'Bryant, and Darko Milicic.
If you feel so inclined, post your top 5 free agent bargains in the comments (they don't have to be on my list), and what amount of money you'd be willing to pay for them (Mid-Level: Up to ~ 6 milion, Bi-Annual: Up to ~ 2.8 million, or veteran's minimum/league minimum). Here's my list:
- Kyle Korver (Mid-Level): Decent defender, solid rebounder, lights out shooter.
- Sergio Rodriguez (Bi-Annual): Very good passer, good rebounder for position, decent defender, SPANISH COCOA!!!.
- Amir Johnson (Bi-Annual): Decent rebounder, good shot-blocker, breakout potential?
- Ian Mahinmi (League Minimum/Bi-Annual): Young, cheap, productive in limited minutes, effiecient, good shot-blocker, above average rebounder.
- Joey Dorsey (League minimum): Cheap, extremely good rebounder, Reggie Evansesque.