It is now rumored that Harden might give the Sixers a more than $10 million discount. I am going to assume that Harden will sign for $35 million, over $12 million less than his option. Obviously, the idea is to sign PJ Tucker for 3 years at $10, million. That would leave the Sixers about $3.8 million above the tax line, $2.2 million under the apron. As the cap has been raised by $1.6 million, the Sixers really have about $3.8 million as a cushion. I have an idea of how to wrap up the offseason with a bow: two trades, of course.
First, I would arrange a sign-and-trade with the Clippers to acquire C Isaiah Hartenstein and SG SF Amir Coffey. I would try to pay Hartenstein about $6.7 million which should be a little better than the Tax Payer MLE, which is all he could get from other contenders and might be enough to dissuade the Clippers from simply resigning him. I would offer Coffey about $4.5 million which is a little better than the bi-annual exception which he might be offered by other contenders and, again, might be enough to dissuade the Clippers from simply resigning him. The Clippers do the sign and trade because they get something for their players rather than nothing. Hartenstein is a UFA and Coffey is a RFA with a $1.7 million qualifying offer. Hartenstein and Coffey take the deal because they are getting market value or better and joining a(nother) contender. The Sixers send Georges Niang, Shake Milton, and Furkan Korkmaz to the Clippers. The money works. The clippers get bench/rotation pieces. The Sixers offload some bad defense and questionable offense.
Second, I would send Matisse Thybulle to Detroit for SF PF Isiah Livers and 2 future 2nd round picks. I would even settle for just one future second round pick.
The resulting roster is:
C Embiid, Hartenstein, Bassey; PF Harris, Reed; SF Tucker, Livers; SG Maxey, Coffey, Joe, Springer, Brown Jr.; PG Harden, Melton.
That is just 14 players. I would put Brown, Jr. on a standard contract. The last standard contract would go to Foster whose present contract is not guaranteed. The two-way contracts go to Julian Champagnie, and SF SG Hyunjung Lee or PF SF C John Butler. Lee brings spacing and size at 6'7". Butler brings defense and oodles of potential at 7'1" with 7'2" wingspan and 3 point range. In 2 years, he might be ready to replace Tobias. Or give the final two-way contract to Aminu Mohammed.
This results in a payroll that is almost exactly at the tax line, which leaves the Sixers with about a $6 million cushion to deal with injury replacement and such.
The Sixers have so far concentrated on defense in Tucker and Melton. Melton also brings spacing with decent shooting and good volume from 3 point range. Tucker can hit for a high percentage, as he did last year, or not. He shoots such a low volume no year seems like a sufficient sample on its own. Certainly, the Sixers needed to bolster their defense after losing Ben, Howard/Drummond, and now Thybulle. They do so by adding Melton, Hartenstein, and PJ. What has been ignored so far this off-season is spacing. The Sixers presumed spacers nearly all fell flat on their faces last year, all by Niang. Joe, Milton, and, especially, Korkmaz just didn't deliver. Korkmaz and Joe might not have hurt the Sixers on the defensive end, but they didn't help either. The other two were disasters on defense. So, Coffey and Livers should address the spacing needs and at least have a chance of not being worse on defense.
That's about as good as I can do.