2021 NBA free agency has been hectic so far, and things are starting to pick up for the Philadelphia 76ers as well. After a startling agreement to sign Andre Drummond on a minimum deal, the Sixers have now found a new backup forward.
As Marc Stein confirmed, Philly has agreed to sign Georges Niang on a two-year, $6.7 million contract.
Georges Niang is signing a two-year, $6.7 million deal with Philadelphia, according to his agents Mark Bartelstein and Andy Shiffman of @PrioritySports— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) August 3, 2021
The 6’7”, 28-year-old power forward who spent his last four seasons with the Utah Jazz is a nice pickup for the Sixers. Niang averaged 16 minutes in 72 games with the Jazz last season, recording career-highs of 6.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. The best skill he brings to the table, though, is efficient three-point shooting on high volume. He’s a quality marksman, and shot 42.5 percent from deep last season on 4.1 attempts a game (9.1 attempts per 36 minutes). When looking at a larger sample of the last three seasons, he’s shot 41.3% on 8.6 attempts per 36 minutes. And despite his limited foot speed on defense, he’s a decent team defender and has improved his on-ball play, too. Ultimately, Niang is a much better option than anyone else the Sixers had as a backup 4 option last season, and his shooting in particular will be a useful weapon to have off the bench.
PhillyVoice’s Kyle Neubeck has provided a key detail about how the Sixers are paying Niang’s contract, reporting that they’re using part of the non taxpayer midlevel exception.
Georges Niang, I'm told, was signed using part of the non taxpayer mid level— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) August 3, 2021
Using the non taxpayer MLE would mean that Danny Green is likely departing. The only way the Sixers could access the full, non taxpayer MLE is by Green leaving and them ditching George Hill’s $10.04 million salary for 2021-22, which is now confirmed after the team officially announced that he’s been waived earlier today. Of course, moves are still being made and the Sixers’ cap situation isn’t final yet. Maybe they’ll use a portion of their taxpayer MLE after all or another arrangement will be made. But if this is the case and Green does leave, it’s a tough loss for Philly. Keeping Green should have always been one of the Sixers’ priorities in free agency. He was an important part of the team both on and off the floor, with his leadership and a skillset that fit seamlessly thanks to his quick-trigger shooting, off-ball movement and defense.
The Sixers could potentially pursue a sign-and-trade with Utah so they can take Niang into the $8.2 million trade exception they have from the Al Horford deal, which would allow them to use their MLE for someone else. Alternatively, they could use some of their bi-annual exception (worth $3.7 million). Both these options would trigger the hard cap, though.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated with any developments, as there’s plenty to keep track of moving forward with Danny Green’s free agency and final signings to complete the roster. And that’s before even getting back to the subject of a Ben Simmons trade.