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Liberty Ballers Mailbag: Furkan Korkmaz’ option, 2019 free agency, rotational changes

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

From Liberty Ballers community member noahflax:

1. Why was Kork’s option declined?

2. Which players on this current roster will be on our 2021 Title winning roster?

  1. Kork’s option was declined, I’d guess, for two reasons: 1) the Sixers’ coaching staff has not been encouraged by Korkmaz’ development or view him as merely a replaceable rotational player and 2) the Sixers’ front office wants to maximize cap space for next summer. As of now, the Sixers have $66,889,335 allocated to player contracts next season and $58,222,220 allocated to cap holds (which can be removed in various ways), with the salary cap projected to be $109,000,000. If the Sixers were to get their cap holds off the books completely, they would have $42,110,665 available under the cap. A max contract signed in the summer of 2019 will pay about $27,250,000 (25% of the cap for a player with 6 years or less of service), $32,700,000 (30% of the cap for a player with 7-9 years of service) or $38,150,000 (35% of the cap for a player with 10+ years of service) in the first year of the contract. So let’s say the Sixers signed Kemba Walker. He’d get the 30% max, meaning the Sixers would then be down to just $9,410,665 in cap space. Add in Kork’s option (the Sixers won’t, however) and the team has just $7,377,505 in cap space. That ~$2 million difference doesn’t seem like much, especially if you believe in Furkan, but for the Sixers, every dollar matters with next summer in some ways determining the core of the Sixers roster for the next half-decade.
  2. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Zhaire Smith, Robert Covington, Landry Shamet (Hey this could even be a starting lineup!).

From Liberty Ballers community member crowhop:

Are you more or less optimistic about the Sixers signing a top-tier FA in 2019 than you were about signing one last season?

Can I say the same? No? Well then, I guess I’m slightly more optimistic simply because the pool of “top-tier” free agents is larger in 2019 than it was in 2018. 2018 basically had two top-tier free agents, right? LeBron and Paul George. 2019, as of now, offers: Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton and Tobias Harris. Some might quibble over labeling Harris a top-tier FA, so we don’t have to count him. While many of the players I just named can already be ruled out, I think a player like Butler or Kemba has a non-zero chance of signing with the Sixers. A non-zero chance is greater than any chance the Sixers had last summer (LeBron was always going to LA and PG probably made his mind up well before free agency).

From Liberty Ballers community member tmendinsky10:

Why do you think we haven’t really seen Muscala used as a stretch 5?

There’s two reasons. One is that with Wilson Chandler missing most of the season so far and Jonah Bolden being relegated to the G-League, the Sixers simply don’t have anyone else on the roster that can serve as the second unit four outside of Muscala, so his minutes have to go there. The second reason, and maybe this one is to a lesser extent, is probably the same reason Richaun Holmes didn’t get too many opportunities to play last season: Brett Brown doesn’t trust a center that can’t anchor a defense. Brown trusts Amir to do so more than Muscala. All that said, I think once the roster is at full-strength, we might see some lineups in which the only big on the court is Muscala. Maybe something like Fultz-Cov-Chandler-Simmons-Muscala or Simmons-Shamet/Redick-Cov-Chandler-Muscala.

From Liberty Ballers community member theanonymousduck:

You can only keep either (a) markelle fultz or (b) zhaire and the 2021 mia pick. which one do you keep? why?

lb draft intelligentsia frequently misses on a certain type of player. guys like jamal murray, devin booker, zach lavine, donovan mitchell, and jayson tatum. bigger athletic guards/wings that can really shoot and develop playmaking abilities in the nba. what can we do in the future to not fall into this trap? are there other player-types that draft twitter types miss on, either positively or negatively?

  1. (B) Zhaire and the ‘21 MIA pick. I’m a big fan of Zhaire’s game, I actually chose him in our Sixers’ mock offseason experiment and the SB Nation mock draft. I think Smith could almost be like a Marcus Smart-type defender (defend across four positions) but with more athleticism and maybe, just maybe, a successful jump shot. A lot of Zhaire’s potential will depend on development, so his future is just as much an unknown as Markelle Fultz’s. But Zhaire will have much less of a question mark surrounding his fit as someone who doesn’t need the ball in his hands. I really believe Zhaire could be a special player, and I’m prepared for the backlash when he’s not. Combine the Miami pick, and option (b) takes it for me.
  2. I think NBA Draft internet often puts more effort into finding out what a player can’t do than what a player can do. We weigh a player’s weaknesses more heavily than we weigh a player’s strengths. We also don’t have an appreciation for college systems and we don’t put a player’s role on their college team into context, and this is something that’s tough to do. Who was watching Texas Tech enough to really understand what it is that Zhaire Smith does for them? Who can say how Texas Tech’s scheme limited or enhanced Zhaire’s capabilities, and how an NBA team will use him differently? Some, yes. But not as many who were acting like they could. (Guilty!)

From Liberty Ballers community member Baskets4everyone:

Is Ben playing like an All star? Will he be deserving of an all star selection later on at some point before the break?

Ben Simmons has been disappointing in a lot of ways this season. His on/off numbers are bad at -4.1 (though his defensive on/off numbers by themselves are solid). His eFG% is down. He seems passive at times. And he cannot play effectively with Markelle Fultz. But Simmons’ traditional stats are noteworthy. Per-36, Simmons is right where he was last season (which was arguably All-Star worthy) with 16.4 PTS/10.9 REB/8.8 AST/1.8 STL. Simmons has grown defensively too.

He’s probably not deserving of an All-Star selection at this point in time, and I think even the national perspective would agree with the Sixers record at 7-5. Kawhi, Kyle Lowry, Embiid, Giannis, Khris Middleton, Oladipo, Kemba, Blake Griffin, Josh Richardson, Kyrie. That’s 10 players ([takes cover, whispers] Covington makes 11) rattled off the top of my head without even checking the numbers who are maybe more deserving of All-Star bids at the moment. However, I think the panic over Simmons (some eager to trade him) has been downright laughable. And I fully believe Simmons will return to All-Star worthy form before the break — so long as Brett Brown establishes more effective rotations.

Liberty Ballers community member das411:

would you rather play one-on-one versus a TJ-sized boban, or a boban-sized TJ?

Boban’s NBA skill is being tall. That’s why he’s in the league. Pablo Torre wrote something for Sports Illustrated years ago asserting that 7-footers have a 17% chance of making the NBA. Not sure how much truth is in that, but the fact is that being of absurd, outlier height increases your chances of going pro. Take away the height, and Boban is crafting lattes in a Serbian lunch cafe or teaching physics in at a university or doing any number of other things besides playing professional basketball. I’d beat 6’2” Boban one-on-one, I’m sure of it. On the other hand, a 7’3” TJ McConnell, same skills and athleticism intact, is probably an MVP candidate. I like to win, but not without a challenge. I’m going Boban-sized TJ.

From Liberty Ballers community member JojoTheProcessEmbiid:

What changes would you make to the rotation, when, and why?

Before last night’s game, I would have reduced Dario’s minutes some, but maybe last night got him going in the right direction. I honestly can’t remember where I stood before the season, but I’m pretty sure I was never in favor of starting Fultz. You were wise to slip “when” in there, and unfortunately, I’m not sure you can take Fultz out of the starting lineup without screwing up what little mojo he has. I want to say Shamet should get more tic but he’s already at 20 MPG and despite loving what I’ve seen, there’s been/will be growing pains. I really don’t understand why Korkmaz can’t get on the floor more, as in why Brett won’t put him out there. Just put him in a lineup where he can hide on defense and spot up on offense. Please Brett, just 5 minutes, and not in garbage time.

I know a lot of people have been frustrated about the lack of small-ball lineups. Here’s some lineups I’d like to see/see more of:

  • Simmons and shooters: Simmons/Shamet/Redick/Covington/Muscala
  • Fultz with Simmons at center: Fultz/Shamet/Redick/Cov/Simmons (This one would have real problems defensively. I’d still like to see it.)
  • Fultz and shooters: Fultz/Shamet/Covington/Dario/Muscala (maybe?)
  • Simmons/Shamet/Redick/Covington/Embiid
  • Fultz/Shamet/Covington/Simmons/Embiid
  • I’d really be interested to see Shamet run some point, just to satisfy my intrigue

Email from the Father of Riley and Elaina:

It is January 15 and the Sixers are 4 games over .500. Markelle is still starting and showing incremental signs of progression Ben still isn’t shooting (forget about making shots, simply taking them) at the level his HOF career is going to need in order to get into said HOF. Joel is still crushing the souls of would be challengers to his big man dominance throne. Is it blasphemy to float the idea of trading Ben? I know we would never get dollar to dollar value for him, but if we traded him away for 90 cents on the dollar and came back with a player/top 10 draft pick(s) that in the end create a system more conducive to getting us into the NBA Finals.... would you do it?

Asking for a friend.

I think moving Ben Simmons, in concluding that early that the fit isn’t there, would be a massive mistake. We would be 1.5 seasons into Ben and Joel’s time together, and deciding to move on. Fit is important, but talent wins out. People who say Joel and Ben don’t fit together: what did I watch last season? I saw a team rise up the ranks of the NBA behind the two playing tremendously on the court together. It’s amazing what 12 games and playoff series will do to the human mind. Also, I’m not choosing Fultz over Simmons, there’s just nothing to make me believe that’s a wise decision. Any move that’s more conducive to getting to the Finals is a no-brainer, but I’m not sure you could send Simmons out and get enough in return to be a significantly better team.

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