Joel Embiid is having a hysterically good season. Nerlens Noel is back playing major minutes and suddenly Chris Mullin from the midrange. TJ McConnell beat the New York Superteams on a buzzer-beater and then Embiid made his Twitter picture a side-by-side of TJ and a fan doing the same celebration. Ben Simmons seems to be not setbacking yet. Triple H is now a Sixers fan. I could go on.
Point is, for as much as the Sam Hinkie departure still pulls me down -- and it does, look into my blood-red eyes, it does -- as well as the sudden devastating dismissal of Process Logo Hollis Thompson, things are actually legitimately very good (too good?) in Sixersdom. But we are never satisfied. There are always more orchards to farm. The moon-climbing tree is growing to a scientifically impossible height, but we’re not quite there yet.
It’s just over a month until the Trade Deadline. But let's look past that for now to this offseason and hazard a guess at what next year's Sixers -- who will undoubtedly make the playoffs and give some poor 2-seed a very stressful first round -- will look like.
- Joel Embiid - uh hi
- Ben Simmons - yes good
- Dario Saric - a mixed bag of a rookie season but, yo, he's a rookie. looks only Normal Good because Embiid is a national monument.
- Jerryd Bayless - hopefully with two working wrists
- Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot - he is so good and nice!
- TJ McConnell - TEEEEEEEEJ
- Gerald Henderson - he has a team option, and I can't see a reason why Colangelo wouldn't use it. Henderson is no one's favorite player to watch, but he's playing boring efficient veteranny basketball on both ends and that's fine. He’s the Innings Eater of 2-guards.
- Robert Covington - also a team option, possibly the best contract in the league. He's going to get paid a lot of money soon. And when he retires, his hands have a future in modeling.
- Richaun Holmes - I'm pre-mad about Colangelo making a Straw Man trade at the deadline moving Holmes for no reason and pretending like it solved stuff. But let's say he's here.
- Nik Stauskas - eat shit if you thought I wouldn't list Stauskas as a lock. He's made strides in a bunch of areas this season and he is TJ's best friend. You step to TJ's friends at your own peril.
That's ten spots pretty much set. Now let's get to the question you're asking yourself.
WHAT ABOUT NERLENS AND JAHLIL YOU IDIOT:
This is a biased column. I am a biased person. You -- maybe not you specifically, but a collection of you's -- might dislike what I'm going to say. That's fine. Write your own thing on your own blog where you have your own Shamus. My offseason does what my offseason wants.
Nerlens is very good and fits neatly into what this team is building towards. Jahlil Okafor is maybe a nice person against whom I don't hold any kind of personal grudge, but lacking a DeLorean, he's not very useful to our modern basketball team. My Sixers will trade him.
But what they will trade him for, I have no idea. The "Will They/Won't They" has been never-ending, and I'm in too deep to know what other teams value Okafor at. Even less sure of what Colangelo would trade him for, without seeming like they're getting fleeced or just giving up on a guy one year removed from being picked 3rd. Hinkie drafted him, yes, we heard you, stop shouting.
Because I don't know anything, let's play it down the middle and assume they trade Jahlil for a future first.*
Prokafor folks, be grateful that I didn't make a "future first grader" joke. I resisted because even though I disagree with you, I care about you, and saying I'd trade Jahlil for a first grader is totally over the line. You're welcome.
They sign Nerlens to a -- *texts Matt, Kyle, and Max to cover my bases* -- 4 year, $84 million deal. Kyle requested I note that Brooklyn especially will be a pain in our wide ass going forward, seeing as they have no picks and very little money tied up. It was Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson last year. Could be Nerlens for big money this year. Either way let’s say 4/84 and hope Brooklyn is too busy complaining about logos to notice. That's now 11 guys locked in.
I just remembered him. Colangelo's gonna fucking sign him to a huge deal, isn't he? Shit. Okay, it's still my offseason, so let's minimize the damage and say he gives him 2 years, $28 million. I know, I know. But I feel like this will be better than what it ultimately will be. Bite down and scream. 12 spots down.
Okay buddy, just like, stay over there for another year. I'm still mocking up a POP BOTTLES bit with your name being like "cork" and all. I think there's something there. Star Wars is cool, huh? Anyway, see you in 2018.
LADY DRAFT OF HOUSE PICKSWAPS:
Let's play it safe and estimate the Sixers come away with the 3rd and 6th picks in the draft. That would be fine as hell. Come away with two of the following:
- Lonzo Ball
- Josh Jackson
- Dennis Smith, Jr.
- Jonathan Isaac
- Jayson Tatum
- Frank Ntilikina
- Malik Monk
Dealer's choice, pretty much. I have varying degrees of boundless love for all of these men. At this point -- *GOWTON FAV ALERT* -- I'd be happy with any of the two (Monk slightly less so). The immense advantage the Sixers have this year over previous years is that two franchise cornerstones are already in place. You don't need either of these players to become all-world guys to have a chance at contending down the line. We've already got those guys.
With that in mind, we'll lean towards dudes who project to be weapons on both ends of the court, and don't need a pair of Lil Bow Wow’s sneakers to suddenly develop a jumper or a defense gene to become a good NBA player.
Just to have some names to work with, let’s say they take Lonzo Ball and Jonathan Isaac. Imagine all this passing. I'm not crazy high on Lonzo compared to the rest of you, but I’m delivering him to you because I am a man of the people. I have busloads of evidence.
With their two second round picks, the Sixers select Ricky Sanchez twice, and stash him in a safe deposit box inside a laundromat in Serbia. Or other similarly podcast-themed stashable players, because having many foreign men getting better for the Sixers for free is awesome, and Wesley Share needs to track somebody's foul count in Finland in order to fulfill his internship requirement.
So factor in about 9-10 million total for those first round contracts and that's 13 players locked in going into free agency.
INTO FREE AGENCY:
A moment to reassess.
PG - (Lonzo), Bayless, TJ
SG/SF - Covington, Henderson, (Isaac), Stauskas, TLC
PF - Simmons, Ilyasova, Dario
C - Embiid, Nerlens, Richaun
By my rough math (“Rough Math” is a show I’m pitching to Discovery), that's about $84 million locked up. Figure the cap will rise from $94M this year to about $102M in 2017-18. That's a decent amount of coin to go out and get a legit guy. We can ignore the big men, so let's look at the (remotely realistic) guards and wings Mike Levingelo would move in on.
Kyle Lowry (player option) - Is Toronto willing to pony up a max contract? I'd say probably. This is the best run of Raptors basketball ever, so there's no sense in breaking it up even if it means continuing to lose to the Cavs in 6. But if Kyle wants a change, the chance to come play at home might entice him. He's a ridiculous player on both ends and no matter who the Sixers select, a guy like Lowry is too good to dismiss.
Jrue Holiday (UFA) - Matt Carey pointed out that the goodwill between Jrue and the Pels after they were so understanding in allowing him to take time off while his wife Lauren recovered from brain surgery might make it hard to pry him away from New Orleans. Jrue's own injury history makes him a dicy signing anyway. PLUS he might not have such fond memories of Philadelphia after the way he left. But he's a legit two-way point guard and the chance to pair him with another dynamic creator like Simmons is tantalizing. I'd give him 4/100 and send him to Doha to fix every body part.
George Hill (UFA) - Not a starry name, but he's very very good. Prototypical 3-and-D point guard shooting a laughable 48% from deep this season. The Jazz are running out of people they can pay, so even though they love him, blowing the 30-year-old Hill out of the water with an offer might stick. I'd dig like 3/70.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (RFA) - 3-and-D guy at the wing finally producing the type of shooting numbers he was supposed to. And he's starting to show more creating abilities as well. A big contract would be in the hopes that he keeps improving. Something like 4/90 seems huge, but I think that's gonna be the market with teams still flush with cash.
Gordon Hayward (player option) - back to my Jazz. I can't imagine Gordie would want to come here -- Embiid and Simmons are probably one year away from drawing this kind of talent on their own -- but Hayward is good, and with the Sixers still mostly untied to big contracts, I'd back up the truck for him.
Danillo Gallinari (player option) - Gallo is an extremely effective offensive player and a mostly useless defensive one. He's bigger than you think, and probably better-suited to defend the 4 in today's NBA. I don't know that I'd be willing to pay big money for a one-dimensional player who always gets hurt.
Otto Porter (RFA) - Can't imagine the Wizards let him go, but with Beal and *wipes glasses* Ian Mahinmi?! signed to huge money and Wall not too far away from needing his own contract (WE-HAVE-BILL-BOARDS), you could see Washington getting chintzy with OP. He's absolutely breaking out, improving in pretty much every area in each of his four years. This might cost a max contract, and weirdly enough, it might be worth it.
Andre Iguodala (UFA) - old friends, how many of us, how many jealous, indeed. Definitely the least noisy person on this list, a seasoned Andre returning to Philadelphia to play alongside great passers and transition-y friends would be a chill way to spend a few years. I don't know how much he wants to come back to a town that pointlessly disliked him (Bobby Abreu’s one true heir), but I'd give him 2-3 years at 16 million per to just rule. Even though his body is starting to let him down, he's still really really good.
I would be mostly thrilled with any of those guys. Even if they draft a point guard of the future who could potentially be a point guard of the right now, I'd still explore going after those two-way point guards and see what happens. Embiid is ready to play basketball into May, and Lonzo or Dennis or Frank will need a lot of time to get to where they're net positives on the court. Having a stable (but also very good, not just stable for the sake of stable) point guard ahead of them would be a nice luxury. Winning and development simultaneously is on the horizon. Who the hell would’ve thought?
The second reason is: love is blind and basketball is positionless. I'm not concerned about having too many folks who can defend and handle and shoot. Let's find us some weapons and give Brett Brown a chance to make it work.
Let’s make it nice and compatible though and say the Sixers offer KCP a ton of money and Detroit gets gun-shy and allows him to leave.
YOUR 2017-18 LEVINADELPHIA 76ERS:
I am Embiid-choking my TJ-self at this squad. Good offseason, folks. Time for Summer League.