Cast aside Joel Embiid's omnipresent foot injury, frayed relationships with player agents and an aversion to signing veteran leaders, one could argue Sam Hinkie's resignation originally stemmed from his signing of Kendall Marshall last September. Rehab from a torn ACL—which ultimately rendered Marshall a free agent delayed his Philadelphia debut—coupled with Tony Wroten's own recovery from the same injury, delivered an NBA roster boasting only Isaiah Canaan and unknown, undrafted rookie T.J. McConnell as lead ball handlers. Simply signing a competent floor general a la Ish Smith prior to the season would likely have prevented the Sixers' dreadful 1-30 start and the eventual hiring of Jerry Colangelo. You know how the rest of that story unfolds.
With Hinkie departed and Bryan Colangelo at the reigns, a gaping hole even still exists at point guard, assuming Smith has earned a contract too rich for the Sixers' appetite. Should the Sixers draft Ben Simmons No. 1 overall on June 23—as are all indications—Brett Brown will still need a diminutive starter that can defend opposing point guards while the Australian runs Philly's offense. Simmons' ability to direct traffic shouldn't discourage the Sixers from adding a legitimate point guard, either. If there's anything these playoffs have proven, it's that teams can often unlock their best player's ultimate offensive potential when sliding him off ball. Think Stephen Curry flying off flare screens for open triples or Kevin Durant slicing to the rim after slingshotting around a Steven Adams pin down.
So, regardless of whether Colangelo tabs Simmons or Brandon Ingram as the Sixers' next key building block, he'll need to install a point guard into that foundation as well. Here are five free agent point guards the Sixers would be wise to target on July 1.
1. Jeremy Lin
Apologies, but the probability of Mike Conley fleeing Memphis to join an upstart Sixers team seems extremely low. Ruling the runaway top available point guard out of play, as well as Rajon Rondo's eccentricities, the Sixers should zero in on Lin as their point guard priority this summer. Lin excelled both off the bench behind Kemba Walker in Charlotte this season and as a spot-starter, should the Sixers draft a point guard they deem starting-caliber. Lin's shooting this season was instrumental in the Hornets' newfound efforts to space the floor. A career 34.6 percent shooter, Lin could provide the same addition to a Sixers' offense muddled with big men in need of more spacing and dribble penetration.
2. DJ Augustin
The Texas product played scrap minutes for Oklahoma City before being traded to Denver for Randy Foye at this past trade deadline. Augustin is still speedy, though, and can run a professional offense competently. After a slight fall from grace, Augustin could view an opportunity to grab the Sixers' starting point guard job attractive, following a similar path to Ish Smith. Still just 28, Augustin could parlay a productive season in Philly into a longterm deal with the salary cap set to jump yet again next season. He's a 37.4 percent career three-point shooter, also bringing that floor-spacing ability of Lin. He proved he could be an elite distributor in his early years with the Bobcats, as well.
3. Matthew Dellavedova
The Cavaliers backup is arguably a better player than Augustin, and his defensive peskiness would add a lot to a Sixers team that hasn't been able to defend a point guard since Jrue Holiday was traded, but Dellavedova on a $12 million-per-year contract doesn't sound as appealing as a cheaper Augustin. Don't laugh at the number. Dellavedova will command an eight-figure deal this summer. He's a career 39.8 percent three-point shooter and has proven to be solid spot-starting in the NBA Finals against a two-time league MVP as well as a reliable reserve for a back-to-back Eastern Conference champion. But, bringing Dellavedova to Philadelphia would mean stepping on T.J. McConnell's toes as the scrappy, white, undrafted point guard in town, and could create a time paradox, the result of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe!
4. Langston Galloway
A hometown return would be nothing but charming for Galloway. After a solid career at St. Joe's, Galloway managed to earn an All-Rookie second team selection last season despite going undrafted. He's still young enough to match the age of the Sixers core, in the case he pans out into a serviceable longterm backup. Galloway has made 34.8 percent of his three-point tries in his two seasons with the Knicks. However, his playmaking ability is still a bit underwhelming for a point guard.
5. Mario Chalmers or Raymond Felton
Ideally, Chalmers would be the second-best option for the Sixers this summer. March surgery to repair a torn achilles renders him into Marshall-territory unfortunately. However, adding a two-time NBA champion (again, don't laugh) to a young locker room could prove dividends, though, especially if the team doesn't expect Chalmers to actually contribute on court until December or January. His injury may leave playoff teams shy to pursue him, though, which could open the door for the Sixers to nab a legitimate pro on a longterm deal for relatively cheap. Felton's inconsistencies are daunting, but at his peak with the Knicks, he averaged 9.0 assists per game for a young New York team 2010-11. That was five years ago now, and Felton is 31 and in far worse playing condition. But that proven ability to set up teammates could ultimately bolster the team's youngsters that need touches in opportune positions.