The Philadelphia 76ers have come up short once again.
After an impressive regular season that saw Philadelphia earn the East's No. 1 seed for the first time in 20 years, its postseason run came to an end with a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Sixers have now been eliminated in the second round in three of the last four seasons.
Last offseason, the franchise made major changes to the coaching staff and within the front office. What can Philly do this offseason to move closer to title contention?
The 2021 NBA Draft
Picks: No. 28, No. 50 (via NYK)
Prospects to target: Marcus Bagley (Arizona State), Sharife Cooper (Auburn), Josh Primo (Alabama), Day'Ron Sharpe (North Carolina),
As owners of the third-best record in the NBA this past season, the 76ers have the No. 28 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
NBA.com draft Expert Kyle Irving has tabbed Charles Bassey, a center from Western Kentucky, as the 28th-best prospect in the upcoming draft. Embiid's injury history coupled with Howard's age and impending free agency would make a big man like Bassey a sensible pick.
Day'Ron Sharpe, a 6-foot-11 center from the University of North Carolina, is another skilled big man that Irving projects as a late first-rounder or early second-round pick. The 19-year-old is another option to add frontcourt depth in Philadelphia.
Oftentimes, the late first round sees teams go for the best player available, meaning the Sixers could simply go with their highest-rated prospect, regardless of fit. Arizona State forward Marcus Bagley, Michigan State forward Aaron Henry and prolific Oral Roberts guard Max Abmas are other players who could be available in that range.
Given front office executive Daryl Morey's track record, expect offensive versatility and shooting to be a priority with this selection.
- Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21)
Upcoming free agents
The 76ers have a few of their role players set to hit free agency.
At the season's end, Danny Green, Mike Scott, Dwight Howard and Furkan Korkmaz will each become unrestricted free agents. Green started at small forward for the 76ers during the regular season and playoffs, Howard was Joel Embiid's backup at center, and Scott and Korkmaz were two of the team's better 3-point shooters.
Additionally, Gary Clark and Rayjon Tucker will be restricted free agents.
|Unrestricted Free Agent(s)||Restricted Free Agent(s)|
|Danny Green||Gary Clark|
|Mike Scott||Rayjon Tucker|
With Tobias Harris ($36.0 million), Joel Embiid ($31.6 million) and Ben Simmons ($31.6 million) each making max-level money, the 76ers will have little-to-no cap space to use in free agency. If this team is going to shake things up, it's almost certainly going to be via trade.
One thing to watch: George Hill is on the books for $10.0 million next season but only $1.3 million is guaranteed. While waiving him would help the 76ers create more cap space, his contract could be useful to match salaries in a trade.
- Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)
What does the future hold for Simmons?
Philadelphia's former No. 1 overall pick had a second round to forget.
Thought to be the second major piece of the Sixers' title plans alongside Embiid, Simmons underperformed against the Hawks, finishing the series with averages of 9.9 points, 8.6 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting just 33.3 percent from the free throw line. To make matters worse, he only attempted three fourth-quarter field goals in the entire series.
You need much more than that from your All-Star point guard.
While Simmons shouldered the blame for Philadelphia's Game 7 loss, head coach Doc Rivers said "I don't know the answer to that right now" when asked if the 24-year-old could be a point guard on a championship team.
The unceremonious end to the Sixers' made it clear that a shakeup is necessary, but the answer is what? Will there be a trade? What is the trade market like for Simmons after such a performance in the playoffs?
Scoring limitations aside, Simmons being a monster on the defensive end and an all-world passer gives him plenty of trade value, but he is owed $140 million over the next four seasons. Is it a change of scenery or a change of position that will benefit Simmons the most? Is it both?
Could Simmons land in a spot where he is no longer the ball-dominant guard and can excel in more of a forward role? Can the Sixers bring in the player to make Simmons less of a point guard and accept that forward role?
What would the return look like if he actually is moved?
Given what the duo of Simmons and Embiid was supposed to be by now, it could be time for a clean break. The offseason is just getting started, and the questions are already piling up.
One key stat
According to NBA.com, Korkmaz (16.5 percent) and Howard (16.1 percent) both had a higher usage rate - a percentage of team plays used by a player when they are on the court - than Simmons (14.7 percent) in Philadelphia's second-round series with Atlanta.
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