Furkan Korkmaz has never quite agreed with the Sixers’ assessment of his development timeline. On Wednesday night, he made his first career NBA start. When he was drafted in June 2016 at #26 in the first round, the expectation was that he would remain in Europe for a couple of seasons to develop, similar to Dario Saric. The Turkish sharpshooter had other ideas.
When he pushed for a move to the NBA in time for 2017 training camp, the Sixers program seemed to be mildly inconvenienced by his coming over. Throughout the 2017/18 season, he was routinely sent back and forth between Philadelphia and Delaware. He played just 14 games with the Sixers in his rookie season. In Delaware, he averaged 15.4 points per game in 9 starts.
Early in the season, his family has been living in Philadelphia and speaks little English, so the cultural pressure of not having a community is significant. To add onto that, Furkan was not playing consistently and the Sixers declined his 2019 option.
This, combined with lack of a role and his family’s commitment to living in the US led Korkmaz to express frustration in his lack of a consistent role. The NBA has been a lifelong goal of his, and he has a record of starring in his role and opportunities going back to international play.
Since November 10th, Korkmaz has averaged 16 minutes per game in 15 games. He has averaged 7.7 points over that span. His per/36 numbers are actually fairly similar to his stat line from his first start on Wednesday night. He scored 18 points along with 3 rebounds and 6 assists against the Brooklyn Nets.
“I thought he came out, he was confident, he made shots, he had some stuff in the lane… I thought he was very good tonight.” Brett Brown on Korkmaz Wednesday December 12th 2018
“I did my job today, you know? I know the expectations from the team, from the coaching staff… But at the end of the game, we lost.” – Furkan Korkmaz on his play Wednesday December 12.
So Furkan is proving the Sixers front office wrong with virtually every opportunity to hit the floor. His defense is an area still in need of improvement, but Korkmaz is proving he can fulfill a specific role for an NBA team. Unfortunately, that team will almost certainly not be the Sixers after this season.
By declining his option, the Sixers saved nearly $2 million in cap space this summer for a big dive into free agency. However, what they gained in flexibility, they lost in their asset control rights on Korkmaz who will now become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. To add onto that, the Sixers are now severely limited in the amount of money they can even offer Korkmaz in an attempt to retain him.
The Sixers cannot, by rule, offer Furkan Korkmaz more than the $2.03 million dollar option that they declined this summer. So it is a near certainty that he will be playing in a different uniform next year.