So, uh, ouch. That shot. The season is over. Ended. Finished. No way back now. With gritted teeth, we have to go forward. But there’s good news that comes with the painful end to a playoff run: Nerd Season. Cap freaks, acquisition addicts, and drama lovers rejoice. It’s the wildest time of the year for Sixers fans. We’ll get to the brain-bending complexity of things like the taxpayer mid-level exception soon, but first, I want to start simple. Who can the Sixers look to target on a veteran minimum?
The vet minimum is a key way to add players to a team that is already capped out (we will be very quickly, if the team does decide to #runitback.) The reason for this is that teams are allowed to sign players to minimum contracts even when over the cap. There is no limit to how many players you can acquire this way, so for a team like the Sixers who have an extremely expensive starting lineup, filling the roster out with minimum contracts is important. The actual value of the contract slides depending on how many years of experience the player has, and cannot be accompanied by a signing bonus. Minimum contracts have a maximum length of 2 years. So with all that in mind, let’s take a look at some potential targets.
PF Kevon Looney – Golden State Warriors
Looney is a 6’9″ big who could take up some minutes. He’s defensively minded and can do some of the work we had hoped Amir Johnson would do. The real issue with Looney is that he’s a tremendously terrible 3 point shooter, which the Sixers likely can’t afford. On a minimum, though, he would be more useful than Johnson. Minimum Contract: $1.5 million.
PF Noah Vonleh – New York Knicks
Another defensive big, Vonleh’s rebounding could help the Sixers secure stops in the minutes when Embiid sits. He’s found a bit of range, as well, and despite having 4 years of experience, he’s only 23. Unfortunately, these factors may mean a team with space could pay slightly more than the minimum to secure him. Worth a shot regardless. Minimum Contract: $2.4 million.
PG Trey Burke – Dallas Mavericks
Trey Burke has been around. Closing up with his fourth team, he’s not lived up to his draft hype. Burke is a bucket-getter and not much more. He may not be able to compete in the playoffs, but Philly desperately needs some traditional point guards who can get you on pull-ups. His 3P% is slightly below average, but on a minimum, you take it. He’s coming off a 2-year minimum deal at 26 and may be willing to take a prove-yourself 1 year deal to set himself up for a contract at the key age of 27. Minimum Contract: $1.75 million.
SG Austin Rivers – Houston Rockets
Austin is a bit like Sauce Castillo. He’s never quite been the guy he’s supposed to be, but his stint in Houston has proved he can contribute to an NBA team, even if just in the regular season. I’d take it. Minimum Contract: $1.9 million.
PF Markieff Morris – Oklahoma City Thunder
Markieff should be one of the primary targets for the Sixers, if nobody decides to raise the price on him above the minimum. A sweet shooting, solid defender, ‘Keiff is a great choice. He’s got some dog in him too, and if the team has Butler and Scott, a third scrapper might put them solidly into Bad Boy range. Speaking of range, ‘Keiff doesn’t quite have the 3 point shooting of his brother Marcus, but is good enough to draw defenders to the perimeter. Minimum Contract: $2 million.
C Enes Kanter – Portland Trail Blazers
We’ll have to see if Portland’s WCF run increases his market value, but if not, Kanter may be a solid option off the bench. He’s been poor defensively over his career, but he played good defense on Nikola Jokic in the semifinals through a shoulder injury. I’d expect someone to pay him more than the minimum, and Portland’s players have likely grown close with him. If, however, he hits the open market, Philly should offer a minimum. Brian was right. Minimum Contract: $2 million.
PF/C Kenneth Faried – Houston Rockets
The Manimal is back, with a little more range. Faried is a weird case, where he supplied the Rockets with about 25 games that overmatched his expected production. Maybe that leads someone to overpay. If not, he’s a decent option to show a different look. As an aggressive 6’8″ big man, he’ll force a different coverage than Joel Embiid does. I’d be happy with it. Minimum Contract: $2 million.
SG Wes Matthews – Indiana Pacers
We went over this a while back when he was the hottest buyout commodity on the market. He’s been pretty poor since, but he’s a solid guy who could play a bit. One of those “fill out the roster with minimums” guys, but with some possible 6th man upside. Minimum Contract: $2.2 million.
C Tyson Chandler – Los Angeles Lakers
Chandler looked pretty cooked this year. He’s a big, burly backup, but it’s hard to say whether he’s actually got any more gas in the tank. That said, the Sixers lost game 7 in the 3 minutes that Embiid sat, and 3 minutes probably is short enough for Chandler to play defense. Worst case scenario, he takes Amir’s seat on the bench. Minimum Contract: $2.4 million.
C Javale McGee – Los Angeles Lakers
One of the most intriguing options I see. He has been effective as a backup, is crazy athletic, can catch lobs, and has playoff experience. It’s not bad. He’s a little wild, and it’s hard to predict if he’d wanna be back here, but I’m all for it. He’s reached the maximum minimum (I know), so it’s a solid number for him. Minimum Contract: $2.4 million.
C Amir Johnson – Philadelphia 76ers
Hopefully Amir returning would mean that there are more playable centers on the roster. If this happens, Amir is a great culture vet who fits in well with the team. I would like this only if Amir is the fourth choice. Minimum Contract: $2.4 million.
SF Vince Carter – Atlanta Hawks
Someone has to. Minimum Contract: $2.4 million.
Besides the guys who already accepted minimums on their last contracts, there are a few more people I think the Sixers should shoot their shot at. These guys likely will take more than their minimums, but hey. Worth a shot.
PG Patrick Beverly – Los Angeles Clippers
Pat Bev is a dog, a gamer, a grinder, whatever you want to call it. It’s a pretty good fit – an offensively low-maintenance guy who will absolutely lock down someone down the other end. At 30, it’s probably getting to be time to get to the minimum. Previous contract: $5.0 million AAV. Minimum Contract: $1.9 million.
PG Ish Smith – Detroit Pistons
Come on home, son. Ish would be a quality backup point guard. The journeyman has run offenses from Golden State to Orlando. He’s the basketball equivalent of a game manager quarterback – he’s not gonna win games for you, but he won’t lose them. That’s good enough for a minimum backup point guard. He’s also 30 and has bounced around a lot. He’ll have a few suitors at the minimum, but I don’t think tons of people will throw money at him. Previous Contract: $6 million AAV. Minimum Contract: $2.1 million.
PF Jared Dudley – Brooklyn Nets
Look, don’t hurt me. I know. But Dudley has shown that he’s a smart player that rides for his guys. He’s 33. He’s not getting a fat contract. Just give him the minimum and who knows. Maybe he’ll get Kawhi ejected. Previous Contract: $10 million AAV (lol). Minimum Contract: $2.4 million.
PG Seth Curry – Portland Trail Blazers
Seth has been a reliable backup guard for a while now. I don’t know if he’d take the minimum, but he’s been close enough to give it a shot. Definitely would help spacing. Previous Contract: $2.8 million(MLE). Minimum Contract: $1.75 million.
PF Mike Scott – Philadelphia 76ers
There’s a twist, huh? Philly signed Mike to the MLE last year, but it’s pretty clear that he feels he’s found a home. Maybe he likes it enough to leave a bit on the table to improve the team. It’s a solid difference, but ultimately not a deal-breaking distance for most players. Previous Contract: $4.3 million (MLE). Minimum Contract: $1.9 million.
The Sixers are gonna need to find more than this to put a team together with everyone who’s expiring. With five picks, they’ll likely either move some for a player or keep most of them to fill the roster out, and they have an MLE to work with. After all that, though, it’ll be down to minimums. Hopefully some of these are hits. My personal picks (of guys who are realistic, unless Durant takes a minimum to be close to D’alassandro’s) are Markieff Morriss, Javale McGee, Trey Burke, Austin Rivers, Kenneth Faried.