As the Philadelphia 76ers enter free agency, two of their biggest tasks involve finding another post presence and adding a scorer to a young and talented backcourt.
It appears a candidate may have emerged for filling the latter need.
As Jonathan Feigen wrote on the Ultimate Rockets blog on the Houston Chronicle’s website, the Houston Rockets have withdrawn the qualifying offer they had made to free agent Courtney Lee.
Since the offer has been withdrawn, Lee is now an unrestricted free agent, meaning he can sign with any team without the Rockets automatically having a chance to match another team’s offer.
And it just so happens that Lee fits a need of the Sixers, following the team’s decision not to make a qualifying offer to guard Jodie Meeks.
In 66 games last season, Meeks averaged 8.4 points per game and had a 36.5 percent three-point field goal percentage. Although he attempted the most three-point shots per game for the Sixers, Meeks finished with the third-highest field goal percentage from behind the arc among players who attempted over 170 three-pointers.
As a team, the Sixers only had one player, in Andre Iguodala, who finished in the top-40 in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage last season.
Lee, on the other hand, ranked just outside the top-20 in the league in that department.
In 58 games for the Rockets last season, including 26 starts, Lee averaged 11.4 points and 2.7 rebounds per game, and had a 40.1 percent three-point field goal percentage.
Lee attempted 3.7 three-pointers per game, his highest mark since entering the league.
Lee’s point per game average would have ranked in the top five on the Sixers last season. However, with Lou Williams also on the free agent market, Lee could be a great addition to the team’s backcourt. If signed, Lee could either split time with Evan Turner at the 2-guard, or come off the bench and fill the role held by Williams over the past two seasons.
In his four-year career, Lee has never missed more than 10 games in a season, and has never had a field goal percentage under 40 percent. For his career, Lee has a 43.9 field goal percentage.
Lee could also provide the Sixers with serious minutes, something the team could miss without Williams and Meeks, two players who averaged close to 25 minutes per game last season.
The career 10 point per game scorer shot 82.6 percent from the free-throw line last season, as well.
The past few seasons have seen the Sixers with too many backcourt players and not enough skilled post players. However, with Williams and Meeks hitting free agency, adding another scorer to the backcourt could go a long way in helping the team improve on last season.
With Turner likely to take over the starting shooting guard role, the Sixers could use a solid option off the bench. In his two seasons in the league, Turner has never started more than 20 games in a season. Furthermore, the team must hope he continues his progression after increasing his points per game average by just over two points from his rookie season.
However, if his postseason play is any indication, Turner could be coming closer to reaching the potential the Sixers saw when they took him with the second overall pick.
And with Iguodala’s status with the team uncertain, further scoring depth could only improve the team.
After choosing not to select any guards in last month’s draft, and with two of last year’s backcourt members currently free agents, Lee’s addition could fill a need while adding depth to the Sixers’ roster.
That is why the Sixers should make a run at the unrestricted free agent.