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Sixers to waive George Hill, opting not to pick up his full $10M salary

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2021 NBA Playoffs - Philadelphia 76ers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Sixers traded big man Tony Bradley and future second-round picks in 2025 and 2026 for George Hill back in March. It was a premium price they paid for Hill, who was out at the time with a thumb injury, but it did seem worth it because of his playoff resume and ability to play off the ball next to a player like Ben Simmons, or on with reserve units. So it was a bit surprising that Hill didn’t play much with the team’s starters. And it’s also a bit surprising he’s being waived, despite struggling in the playoffs.

I thought a big part of the team’s motive in acquiring Hill was because his $10M salary for the 2022 season (which would have become guaranteed had they not opted to waive him) would have been a very valuable trade chip.

So with that money not going to Hill, you start to wonder if this was some type of “total savings” move where the team is considering potential luxury taxes, aprons, exceptions, and the like.

Per The Athletic’s Rich Hofmann and Derek Bodner, writing before free agency kicked off:

“So if the Sixers did make a move (more on that below) that could hard-cap them at the $143 million apron, they could clear another $8.77 million in space by waiving Hill....

But the Sixers didn’t make that move...well I guess we’ll see what they wind up paying Danny Green, or potentially someone else. More from The Athletic on avoiding a “hard cap,” which would hurt their ability to improve the roster during the season:

“If the Sixers take the straightforward path in free agency, that hard cap won’t come into play. Let’s say they decide to re-sign Danny Green and Furkan Korkmaz with Early Bird and Bird rights, respectively, while also using the taxpayer midlevel exception ($5.9 million) and minimum contracts to get a backup center and fill out the rest of the roster. In that case, the $143 million number doesn’t matter....The Sixers, staring at a luxury tax bill, wouldn’t be particularly flexible in that general scenario. But they wouldn’t be worried about a hard cap, either, a significant difference.”

Are they planning on ponying up to retain Danny Green, and waiving Hill helps offset some of that pending financial hit?

Hill’s time in Philly can’t be seen as anything but disappointing if indeed this is the end for him here. But are some speculating that he could be retained after all, just with a different salary?

I’m not a cap wiz but I’m giving the benefit of the doubt that this will make more sense when we learn more. For now, I can’t help but wonder if Hill at $10M might have been valuable both because he’s a solid player (probably better than he performed coming back from thumb surgery) and because he could have been shopped in a potential trade.

It’s an intriguing decision here for sure. I don’t know enough about the opportunity cost of keeping him yet to fully grasp this one. What could they not have done if they kept Hill? Might it have made retaining Green tricky? Might it have implications for their exceptions? Might it make going big game hunting for someone like Dame Lillard down the line more financially challenging? I guess we’ll find out.