Philadelphia 76ers: 5 Free Agents Who Team Must Chase to Stay in Contention
The Philadelphia 76er's remarkable run this year reflects on how well the team has drafted in the last couple of years. With rising young stars in point guard Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young, fans are starting to believe that their team has some of what it takes to return to the Iverson era, when the team was consistently atop the Atlantic Division standings.
Still, the Sixers have been a team ultimately unable to bring home the hardware, as they fell in a heartbreaking seven-game series to the Celtics in the semifinals after knocking off the Derrick Rose-less Bulls in the opening round.
Philly has a chance to reap the benefits of the free agent market should they choose to buy out Elton Brand's $18 million contract with the amnesty clause.
And with the team expected to lose a significant amount of scoring if another team picks up bench scorer Louis Williams, who is testing the market, many expect the team to be active in free agency this offseason.
After the jump are five potential unrestricted free agents who I think the Sixers could target in an attempt to bolster an already talented, youthful and developing roster.
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A guy like Carl Landry could become a valuable assist for the youthful Sixers.
At 28 years old, Landry would be an upgrade over the aging Brand while still managing to fill the position in a similar fashion.
The Sixers rely on the quickness and athleticism of point guard Jrue Holiday and shooting guard Evan Turner to create with the ball, and big guys are going to be open and free to make plays off of that.
Landry is a player who is quite versatile as a forward because of his ability to hit the converted mid-range jump shot.
In addition to an outside shot, he can also drive to the hoop and throw around his 6'9", 248 lb. frame.
The problem with Landry is that he seems to thrive in a bench role and the Sixers already have that type of a guy in Thaddeus Young.
If Young can progress into a player that can be as effective as a starter as he is in a bench role, then getting Landry for the 1-2 punch could be a killer combination.
Landry is really a veteran player, but he has never really been challenged by a coach to reach his potential.
While he is only a slight upgrade from Brand due to his age, perhaps a move to Philadelphia could unleash his full potential.
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With sixth man Louis Williams set to opt out of his current contract and test the free agent market, according to his agent, Philly will be looking for a potential replacement for his 15 points per game.
Williams made a name for himself by becoming the first player since Del Curry to lead a team in scoring off the bench, but Williams also became somewhat controversial by taking questionable shots and playing lackluster defense.
While a guy like Milwaukee's Carlos Delfino will not replace Williams as a pure scorer by any means, he also has many of the redeeming qualities that made Lou successful in Philadelphia.
He will give the team a suitable replacement for three-point shooting (shooting nearly the same percentage as Williams this season), while giving them the excellent perimeter defense that Williams lacked.
Seems to me like a guy such as Delfino could work out if brought into Philly for a reasonable price.
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Again, reaching out to an unrestricted free agent forward such as Kris Humphries is only a possibility for the Sixers if they decide to use amnesty on Brand.
However, aside from the 27-year-old's youth, I'm not really sure if he would be much of an improvement over what the Sixers could have if they stick it out with Brand for one more year.
The 6'9", 235 lb. power forward uses his bulk to get into the paint and excel around the rim, but he takes his fair share of bad shots––and the Sixers had a decent mid-range shooter in Brand this season.
While he hasn't really been given all that he needs to stand out, Humphries has found a way to produce by being tedious on the glass, cranking out nearly 500 offensive rebounds in two seasons with the Nets.
Averaging 13.8 points and 11 rebounds per game, Humphries has shown he can be a force, but he will look to cash in this offseason with a big, long-term deal.
And with that being said, the 2013 free agent class certainly looks to be much stronger with guys like David West, and Utah's Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap becoming available as unrestricted free agents.
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With free agents like Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum set to hit the market in 2013, maxing out 30-year-old Chris Kaman may not be in the Sixers' best interest.
At the beginning of the season, center Spencer Hawes was looking like a guy for the Sixers to re-sign, and at 7'1" and at just 24 years old, I could see why.
Yet, when he came back from a lengthy absence due to an Achilles injury, he looked like a shadow of his former self.
Kaman didn't quite put up the double-double numbers this season with the Hornets that made him a staple in the pre-Blake Griffin Clippers, but he is one of the best unrestricted free agent big men out there.
But would Indiana give up Hibbert? The chances are very unlikely.
McGee has made his fair share of boneheaded plays that have made him the laughing stock of the league, but his skills are not a laughing matter.
Hibbert and McGee, unlike Kaman, are punishing seven-footers with extensive shot blocking abilities, but are the teams that hold their options willing to part with them?
For the young talent that these two men are, I would say probably not. And thus, the Sixers are stuck looking at guys like Kaman.
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One of the glue guys for the Dallas Maverick's 2011 NBA Championship run, Jason "The Jet" Terry has always been able to consistently bring that high shooting percentage, run-and-gun offensive style off the bench for the Mavs.
The Sixers will lack this type of a player after losing Lou Williams. The Jet will not come cheaply, but will he serve as an adequate replacement?
While the Sixers do need Evan Turner to develop into star role, Terry can really play with or behind anybody in the league because he always finds ways to execute.
He has already proven that he can live up to the hype, as he and the Mavericks defied the odds and overcame the heavily-favored Heat in four games. If he could bring the same type of energetic and veteran leadership role to a Philadelphia squad that at times this season looked sluggish, it could be a winning situation.