According to budding NBA insider Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the Sixers might have some additional visions for their roster. In an article published on Tuesday morning, Fischer reported that Philadelphia is among the teams interested in veteran forward Paul Millsap:
Golden State has been the team most often linked by league sources to Paul Millsap, arguably the most consequential free agent left. Yet while the 36-year-old former All-Star has drawn interest from the Warriors, Hawks, Nets, Pelicans, 76ers and Timberwolves, no team sources contacted by Bleacher Report indicated any contract agreement with Millsap has come close to the finish line.
After a down year in Denver, where the veteran saw his lowest minutes per game since his sophomore campaign in 2007-08, Millsap is said to be seeking a crystalized role on a team with deep playoff aspirations. “I think he just wants to know he’s the third big or the reserve, small-ball 5 for a good team,” one assistant general manager told B/R. [Bleacher Report]
One thing sticks out from that report. Paul Millsap is the prototypical stretch big in the modern NBA. So, the idea that he would be willing to serve as a small-ball center makes him an excellent fit for numerous teams.
Millsap’s Asking Price
According to Fischer, however, there are impediments that could prevent Philadelphia from adding Reed:
Denver could feasibly bring him back with just under $3.5 million in wiggle room below the tax, but it seems Millsap is looking for a richer payday. The Nuggets do retain his cap hold, so Tim Connolly’s front office could explore sign-and-trades that would open more flexibility as far as potential new destinations. [Bleacher Report]
After their activities thus far this offseason, the Sixers have just two non-trade means of adding players remaining. They can convince free agents to take the veteran minimum to come play for a team with Finals aspirations. Or, they can use the remaining $2.6 million of their Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception to add Millsap.
If they go over that $2.6 million, they would be hard-capped. That would make it impossible for Philadelphia to back more money than they trade out in a deal. They’re not going to hamstring themselves in a Damian Lillard trade over Paul Millsap. They would also need to shed salary elsewhere in order to pay Millsap more than $2.6 million. That seems like a lot of untangling just to add a guy who probably won’t play more than 18 minutes per game.
It just so happens that one of the most befuddling courses of action the Sixers have taken this offseason is signing Andre Drummond to back Embiid up after telling reporters that they wanted to add a big capable of stretching the floor.
Millsap would be a logical move to address that concern. The four-time All-Star is a 34.3-percent three-point shooter over his 15-year career. He averaged 9 points and 4.7 rebounds this past season. His below-average efficiency from deep comes within a small sample size context. He’s averaged fewer than three attempts per game in each of his last three seasons.
What you have there is a veteran big who garners respect on the perimeter. He’s going to lift the opposing big man out of the lane to contest his jumpers on the perimeter, therefore opening up the paint for the second unit. All the Sixers’ bench needs is good looks, whether it be from the perimeter or at the rim. Millsap capitalizes on the former and, therefore, creates the latter for his teammates.
If there is enough mutual interest to put pen to paper, the downside is that Millsap doesn’t really offer positional optionality. He’s 36 years old. So, it isn’t quite prudent to expect Millsap to be successful guarding wings or other mobile bigs in space. So, having him play power forward seems like a misallocation of resources. You want him guarding slow bigs who pose perimeter threats or manning the rim in case someone breaks loose.
What It Means For Paul Reed
Perhaps the idea Philly alluded to at the end of the season involved giving second-year big Paul Reed more responsibilities. If the plan would be to use Millsap as a center, that rumor casts some clouds over the possibility that Reed could be in line there.
Limiting Reed’s opportunity does not seem like something that Daryl Morey is eager to do. You can refer to Morey’s Twitter account every time Reed takes the floor to judge for yourself. Morey also traded away Tony Bradley Jr, the Sixers’ second-best center, at the trade deadline to acquire George Hill. He then released Hill this offseason with a year remaining on his very tradeable contract. You can call trading Bradley an expense of adding a veteran ball-handler. I call it an attempt to force Doc Rivers to play Reed.
Perhaps the Sixers feel comfortable sliding Reed to the four. But, that implies a longer leash with shot-creating. Enabling Reed to put the ball on the floor and make decisions seems like an unnecessary risk.
A desire to sign Paul Millsap is a willingness to restrict Reed’s opportunities. The implication there might be that Rivers, after being overly reliant upon veterans in the past, hasn’t learned from each of his previous two playoff failures. If that’s the case, roster construction is only part of the problem at hand.
It could also reflect that the Sixers are preparing for a scenario in which Paul Reed is included in a bigger trade at some point in the near future.