It may not be the kind of signing that fans envisioned earlier in the season when looking ahead to the buyout market, but the Philadelphia 76ers have made a move to add to their frontcourt. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that the Sixers are signing 35-year-old forward Anthony Tolliver to a 10-day contract.
For Tolliver, 35, this is his 15th stop in the NBA since entering the league undrafted in 2007. He worked out for the Sixers last week.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 10, 2021
Tolliver hasn’t been active in the NBA this season, and last played in 2019-20 with Portland, Sacramento, and Memphis. He’s of interest thanks to such a long track record of sound three-point shooting. Tolliver has shot 37.3 percent from three for his career, including 38.8 percent on 3.7 attempts per game (6.9 attempts per 36 minutes) over the last seven seasons. He’s proven himself as an effective shooter and has a fairly quick trigger on solid volume, with 65.5 percent of his career field goal attempts coming from beyond the arc.
Besides his shooting, Tolliver doesn’t offer much offensively and his defense will be limited at 6’8”. He’s also almost 36 years old and far from his prime in terms of lateral quickness and versatility. Seeing as he can’t help protect the rim either, it’s going to be difficult to give him too much run as a small-ball center without coming across the same defensive shortcomings we’ve seen from similar lineups in the past. If the Sixers try Tolliver as a smaller center in short doses, they’ll need to rely on run-and-gun offense led by Ben Simmons and embrace more switching on defense with their top wing defenders.
No, Tolliver won’t change much for the Sixers. But there are very limited options left by now, and this is the kind of signing that should have been expected at this point. Unfortunately for the Sixers, they did miss out on good buyout targets like Gorgui Dieng (who understandably sought out larger roles elsewhere), who could have provided a stronger balance of size, rim protection and shooting rather than a more one-skill specialist.
After the trade deadline, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said that if the team was going to make a move on the buyout market, it would probably be for a big. Seeing as they already have a rebounding, rim-rolling, rim-protecting big in Dwight Howard as their primary backup center, a shooting forward (or small-ball five in short doses) was the logical target.
With limited players available, having a look at someone who can space the floor like Tolliver on a 10-day deal makes sense. If he can give the Sixers reliable shooting and serve as an upgrade over Mike Scott, Tolliver could help.