The start of NBA free agency is almost here, and there’s going to be a rapid increase in all trade and contract buzz as it approaches. For the Sixers, the top stories are what kind of contract James Harden agrees to and whether they sign P.J. Tucker — the player they’ve emerged as the apparent front-runner to sign.
Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer released a bunch of intel in his latest free agency piece, and included some notes on the Sixers.
One unsurprising detail from Fischer is that the Sixers are still being mentioned as the leader to acquire Tucker, which is in line with everything we’ve been hearing over the last few days. Fischer also said that it’s believed Harden will be “sacrificing some annual dollars,” which certainly suggests that he’d be opting out of his $46.87 million player option in order to sign at a lower number for 2022-23 — again, there’s already been some buzz about this happening.
Furthermore, Fischer mentioned that the Sixers are “still exploring various trade options to free financial flexibility,” and named the Trail Blazers and Mavericks as possible suitors for Matisse Thybulle:
Philadelphia continues to be mentioned as the leader to land Tucker on a widely-discussed deal that could reach as high as three years and $30 million. In addition to James Harden sacrificing some annual dollars, it’s believed the Sixers are still exploring various trade options to free financial flexibility, as well as upgrade their roster with premium veteran talent. The two teams most often mentioned as Matisse Thybulle suitors have been Portland and Dallas.
If Harden does indeed opt out and take a pay cut, depending on how significant a cut he takes, the Sixers may be able to create enough cap space to access the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception (worth around $10.3 million) and sign P.J. Tucker.
Beyond any reductions in Harden’s salary, the Sixers will have to move other players to create extra cap space.
The Sixers’ biggest need is wings, and it’s hard to find many options who could be attainable from Portland or Dallas. The Mavericks’ Reggie Bullock seems like the best, and potentially more realistic target from these teams (at least more so than guys like Josh Hart and Dorian Finney-Smith, who certainly wouldn’t be available in such a scenario). Bullock would give the Sixers some extra rangy defense at 6-foot-6, and a pretty quick trigger from three with his high-volume shooting (he’s shot 39 percent from three on seven attempts per 36 minutes over the last five seasons).
However, Bullock was a starting level player for the Mavs through their run to the Western Conference Finals. Thybulle is a liability on offense and couldn’t be counted on to even stay in Philly’s playoff bench rotation. It’s hard to see the Mavs moving Bullock for Thybulle, unless they’re incredibly high on the Sixers’ young wing and receive additional compensation from the Sixers.
We’ll keep you updated with any more developments in a possible Thybulle trade. For now, the biggest thing to monitor with the Sixers is whether Harden does opt and take a pay cut starting from next season — which seems like an increasingly likely and helpful development.