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Sixers Mailbag Vol. 24 - How Much More Losing Can We Bear?

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I took your questions on Dario Saric, Stauskas at point guard, and how many more seasons of under .500 basketball I'd be willing to take.

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Today is Thursday, which means it's time for me to answer some of your most pressing Sixers questions. Without further ado...

Sean C. via email: My question is regarding Dario Saric and when he'll eventually join the squad. Why couldn't Dario sign a K.J. McDaniels special (one-year, non-guaranteed deal) and become a restricted free agent [in 2017]?

That's a fair question. As most know by now, if Saric were to wait at least three seasons before coming to the NBA, he would not be subject to the rookie wage scale, and could sign a contract like what Nikola Mitotic did with the Chicago Bulls in 2014. However, Dario seems pretty committed to coming to Philadelphia next summer, which means he's willingly going to leave a lot of money on the table. He would not be able to sign a deal like McDaniels did because he's a first-round pick, and has to abide by the rookie wage scale. Second round picks do not have any salary restrictions. The NBA instituted the wage scale back in 1995 because players were holding out until they got the deal they wanted, similar to what the NFL was dealing with until the instituted their own policy a few years ago. All deals for NBA first-round picks are two years long, with team options for a third and fourth season. Player options are not allowed to be included in these days, so there's no real way for Dario to wiggle out of this early.

The scale goes up every year, but in Saric's case, he would still be subjected to sign under the 2014 draft scale. According to RealGM, he'll make $1,803,400 the first season, $1,884,600 the second season, $1,965,700 the third season, and $2,708,734 in the final year of his deal.

It may not be the most financially savvy decision to come over next year, but if he performs well, his second NBA contract will certainly make up for it.

Noah G. via email: Aside from Gerald Wallace or Carl Landry, what player on the current roster do you think is most likely to be traded?

Wallace and Landry are more likely to be cut than anything else, but outside of them, there really aren't any strong candidates. If I had to pick one for the sake of doing it, I'd say Tony Wroten. Guys like Hollis Thompson or Robert Covington certainly have some legitimate trade value, but I think they view those two has core pieces for the future, and I'm not sure you can say the same for Tony. When you think of what the Sixers are looking for in a point guard in an offense that seems like it's going to be low-post dominated, Wroten is near the bottom on the list of good fits. If he can stay healthy and show some improvement in his perimeter shooting or his ball handling, then I think you can find another team that would like him as a spark plug off the bench. His value can't be worth any more than a second round pick, but for a guy I don't really see being part of a longterm solution, better to get something than nothing at all.

@JoeGiglioSports: If the Sixers land 3 or 4 lottery picks (but not No. 1), would you package them to trade up for Ben Simmons?

So I'm going to dance around this question, just because I've yet to see a ton of Ben Simmons. I'm looking forward to watching him play at LSU, and lots of smart basketball people think he's the real deal, but I can't put the Pavorsky Stamp of Approval ™ on him just yet. And honestly, there may be players that are just as good or surpass Simmons. Joel Embiid was deemed a low lottery pick when he went to Kansas, and very likely would've been the top overall pick had he not hurt his back and foot. Nobody expected D'Angelo Russell to be a top two pick when he enrolled at Ohio State last fall. Drafts are always full of fast risers that give the expected top pick a run for their money. That could be Kentucky's Jamal Murray, who reclassified from the class of 2016 and left a trail of destruction at this summer's Pan-Am games.

What I'm basically trying to say is that it's way too early to throw all the eggs in the Simmons basket. He could very well be the guy, but luckily we have a full year to evaluate that. However, if Philadelphia thinks that Simmons, Murray, or whoever else pops up could be the real deal, then they need to strike. They've spent the past 3 years accumulating all of these assets, and if they think the top pick could be the final piece of the puzzle, this is when you bundle those picks to move up. Assuming the Sixers are top three, I think their own pick, plus the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City first-round picks would be more than enough to get the job done.

Whoever the top pick turns out to be, it's only worth giving up those first-round picks if you think they'll be a real difference maker.

@Anthony_Capelli: Stauskas as a point guard, yay or nay?

I actually recall Stauskas running the point a lot when Spike Albrecht wasn't on the floor during his last season at Michigan, and he seemed like he knew what he was doing. Running the pick and roll came pretty naturally for him. It's definitely something to think about, but he's a shooting guard by trade. The number one priority for Stauskas and Sixers should be working on his skill set as a two before they try and expand his game. He's got a ton to work on as an off ball guard, and I'd really like to see some improvement primarily in his catch-and-shoot game.

Not to mention, the team just signed three point guards in Scottie Wilbekin, Pierre Jackson, and TJ McConnell, and already have two on the roster. It would be nice to evaluate what those guys can do before you try and throw Stauskas into the fray.

It might be something worth exploring down the line, but let's focus on him figuring out his more natural position before we add playmaking duties on top of it.

@NTVJonJankowski: How many seasons under .500 would you be willing to go through until you had enough of Hinkie's plan?

It's probably because I'm insane, but these past two seasons where they've won a combined 37 wins haven't really bothered me because this part of the process has never been about wins, but about progression. While they won one less game than the year before, I think the Sixers made some genuine progress. They went from 27th to tied for 12th in defensive efficiency over the course of just one year. That's nothing to scoff at.

I do think they're starting to approach the area of the rebuild where progress needs to translate to more wins, only because they're adding some real talent. Jahlil Okafor should make an immediate impact, and Nerlens Noel will look to improve on what was already a record breaking rookie season. Robert Covington will be expected to contribute like he did last season. Looking forward to 2016-17, it seems as though they'll be adding Saric and a minimum of two first-round picks. Add that to the talent they already have, and you can finally put some legitimate expectations on this team.

I think by 2017-18, this team really needs to be over .500, which would be the fifth full year of the rebuild. If they can't get over the hump by then, it'll be clear that at least one of their top draft picks haven't panned out. So, they've got three more years to work their way to a winning record before I throw in the towel, and I'm gonna clutch that thing like I'm Rocky Balboa in Rocky II.

@jp_melle: How would you rank this year's rookies in terms of ROY likelihood?

I think people expected Jahlil Okafor to be the front runner post-draft, and then came back to Earth when they saw him struggle a little in summer league. Regardless, I think he's still the player most likely to make an immediate impact in a class where you might wait multiple seasons for players to show some consistency. I would rank Emmanuel Mudiay second. He really surprised a lot of people with his ability to run an offense out in Las Vegas, and Denver is essentially handing him over the reins to the team. He's going to have a solid season. After that, I don't really think anyone will be that close. D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns will be good players, but this season is going to be more of an adjustment period for them than anything else. Good luck getting Russell some meaningful touches in an offense that includes Kobe Bryant and Jordan Clarkson.

Thanks for your questions. As always, you can send me your questions on Twitter @JakePavorsky or email me at jake.pavorsky@gmail.com