76ers in search of a starting point guard

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Sixers head coach Brett Brown.

The 76ers wanted Ish Smith to sign as the backup point guard before, according to a source, he agreed Friday to a deal with Detroit. Coach Brett Brown said that No. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons could be the starting point guard down the road.

But who will be the starting point guard when the 2016-17 season starts?

Finding the answer to that is the team's biggest problem as the free-agency period begins Friday.

The Sixers are expected to go heavily after Golden State Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes, a restricted free agent. They could also target restricted free-agent shooting guards such as Allen Crabbe of the Portland Trail Blazers and Evan Fournier of the Orlando Magic.

But they desperately need a point guard.

Mike Conley is the headliner of this summer's free-agent point-guard class, but he will want to play for a contender.

Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams aren't good fits. Jeremy Lin would be better off re-signing with the Charlotte Hornets or reuniting with coach Mike D'Antoni as a Houston Rocket.

Maybe they could go after Jarrett Jack, who was cut Thursday by the Brooklyn Nets. But the Sixers have yet to become a desired destination for him and most free-agent point guards.

And most of them aren't the kind of starting point guards that fit best with Simmons, a point forward. The Sixers need a non-traditional point guard who can spot up at the three-point line when Simmons grabs a rebound and runs the show on fastbreaks.

Houston's Patrick Beverley would be perfect for that role if the Sixers can acquire him in a trade. The Sixers are still shopping centers Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor.

A league source said the Sixers turned down a trade offer from the Rockets for Noel in exchange for Beverley and Trevor Ariza before the draft. Another source disputed that there was ever an offer.

ESPN has reported that the Toronto Raptors contacted the Sixers about sending a rotation player, possibly Terrence Ross, and add-on players in exchange for Noel. The Raptors are reportedly eyeing the 6-foot-11, 225-pounder as a backup center.

Toronto is aware that it could lose backup center Bismack Biyombo in free agency and is looking for insurance in case that happens.

Other potential trade options for the Sixers could involve packaging Noel or Okafor to the Phoenix Suns in a deal that includes point guard Brandon Knight. Acquiring Ricky Rubio from the Minnesota Timberwolves could be another option, although it might require getting a third team involved.

The Sixers walked away from a proposed trade with the Atlanta Hawks that would have brought Jeff Teague to Philadelphia. Teague would have been a solid fit as a starter for the Sixers. He can push the tempo. He excels offensively and defensively on pick-and-rolls.

While he's a traditional point guard, the former Wake Forest standout can spot up at the three-point line and make shots when Simmons is leading the break. Teague is a vocal defensive leader, and he can get back in transition.

The Hawks eventually traded him to the Indiana Pacers after the Sixers stopped showing interest.

 

Brown hopes Simmons will be the one running the team down the road. For now, they want him to get rebounds, lead the fastbreak, and initiate the offense in certain situations. The Sixers see the 6-10, 243-pounder as a locomotive that can pass and handle the ball.

"It wouldn't surprise me, if you fast-forwarded all this a few years where we may sort of declare him a point guard," Brown said Wednesday on NBA.com's Hang Time Podcast.

The Sixers did not extend qualifying offers to Isaiah Canaan or Christian Wood. They will become unrestricted free agents.

kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

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