The NBA Playoffs march on, but the 76ers' offseason is already two weeks underway. These few weeks in early May are often seen as the quietest for NBA teams (except recently for the Sixers, who've held a coaching search in the two off seasons prior to this one). But things are about to "heat" up in Sixer-land (pun intended), beginning with next week's NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. Because of this, we thought now was a good time to discuss what type of off-season player the Sixers could be this summer.
Obviously a lot of what happens going forward is dependent on the status of the CBA and the potential lockout, but since that's a topic we won't be able to address until next month, we'll be game planning as if the 2011-12 season will be played (otherwise we'd just leave this blog empty, kind of like the arenas would be next season if an agreement isn't reached).
Here's what's coming up in the next month for the Sixers: the draft combine in Chicago starting next week, running from May 18-22. Basically this is the official combine for teams, with all of the potential first-round picks working out and holding interviews with teams. By the end of the month, the Sixers will begin inviting players into PCOM for workouts before the draft. The NBA Draft is scheduled for June 23 and the Sixers currently hold the No. 16 pick, plus a second-round selection. Because consensus is that this is a relatively weak draft, talent-wise, most pundits feel it would be a wise strategy for teams to draft for need, not talent. In past seasons, the Sixers have held the philosophy that they'd select the best available player, regardless of his position, and regardless of whether they had any need for that specific player at that specific position. It still remains to be seen how the front office will approach this draft, but it's likely they'll focus on obtaining some interior help even if there is a really talented swingman on the board.
There are so many bases to cover, so before we try to touch them all, let's lay out the Sixers' roster and salary cap issues heading into the off season. The Sixers have only two significant players coming off the books (also Antonio Daniels and Tony Battie, but these are "significant" contracts): Jason Kapono and Darius Songaila. Let's just say there is 0 percent chance either of these players re-signs with the Sixers -- because there is, literally, 0 percent chance that happens. Combined, those two contracts equal approximately $11 million, meaning the Sixers have $11 million coming off the books. Before you start imagining what kind of player the Sixers could sign for $11 million a season, let's bring it back down to reality. Both Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes are restricted free agents and it's safe to say the Sixers will aim to re-sign both. With the rising contracts of Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams, Evan Turner, Marreese Speights, Jrue Holiday (all of them have higher salaries for the 2011-12 season compared to the 2010-11 season), plus the addition of a first-round pick and his contract (should the team keep the selection) and the addiiton of a second-round pick and his contract (should the team keep the selection), and the Sixers essentially have little to no room on the free-agent market. Obviously, it remains to be seen whether the new CBA will keep the mid-level exception, which could provide an outlet for the Sixers to get something done on the free-agent market. And it remains to be seen what next season's salary cap will actually be, but when talking about what the Sixers might be able to do in free agency this summer, one must come to the realization that free agency isn't likely the road the Sixers can take to improve the team.