The Philadelphia 76ers organization is going to need to undergo yet another major shift in personnel from this year to next.
When this season concludes, the 76ers will have eight players officially under contract in line to be paid next season.
Those eight are Lavoy Allen, Kwame Brown (player option), Spencer Hawes, Jrue Holiday, Arnett Moultrie, Jason Richardson, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young.
The Sixers have to begin their escape from the cellar that is mediocrity in the NBA and can do so by adding free agents who will make a difference.
I'll take a look at five free agents the Sixers should target this offseason who can step in and fill glaring voids on offense and defense.
For the sake of this article, I'll assume the Sixers do not re-sign any of their own free agents, including Andrew Bynum.
Al Jefferson is one of, if not the most overlooked and underrated players in the NBA.
Jefferson is averaging 17.5 points to go along with 9.1 rebounds this season for the Utah Jazz.
With the possibility of Andrew Bynum walking (or hobbling) away from Philadelphia, Jefferson would slide right into the center position and be a go-to guy down low.
The 6'10" Jefferson has the ability to post up a defender or face up toward the hoop. He consistently knocks down elbow jumpers and moves quite well for a man of his stature.
A lineup of Al Jefferson at center and Spencer Hawes at power forward is a matchup nightmare for the opposition.
Hawes has the ability to knock down outside jumpers while Jefferson can knock down mid-range shots and finish strong around the basket.
This has to be the Sixers number one target come this offseason.
J.R. Smith is an offensive explosion waiting to happen each game.
While Smith can stay with the New York Knicks for just under $4 million, I find it unlikely he will do so.
So why not come to Philadelphia?
When focused, Smith is a player who can score at will, and he has proven he can knock down crucial shots late in games, something the Sixers have lacked when they have actually been in close ball games.
In essence, the 76ers don't have that "lightning in a bottle" player, which Smith certainly is. When he gets hot, that rim begins to expand and his confidence skyrockets.
Smith is averaging 17.8 points per game this season and has shown he can shoulder the scoring load when Carmelo Anthony is sidelined or having an off night offensively.
With Nick Young being such a disappointment in the scoring department this year, the Sixers could use a number two scoring threat alongside Jrue Holiday in the backcourt.
J.R. Smith is that player.
For years now, it seems, the 76ers have been missing a guy down low who is willing to bang with other bigs, talk some trash and fire up his team—all while being productive.
David West certainly fits the bill.
West is averaging 17.7 points per game this season and 7.7 rebounds this season, his second with the Indiana Pacers.
Sure, West will be 33 years old by the start of the 2013-14 season, but if he is willing to accept a minimum-year deal, he can be an effective part of a offensively challenged team.
West has a sweet stroke from just around and outside the paint, coupled with the ability to post up or drive the lane strong.
It will certainly excite deflated Sixer fans to see a player play every possession like its his last and fight for every loose ball, coming up with most. West brings that kind of effort.
Besides, this team could use a new identity, after all.
I haven't been a fan of Nate Robinson ever since he robbed then-Sixer Andre Iguodala of the dunk contest title back in 2006. I always thought people gave him too much praise for being a little guy that could dunk and overlooked his deficiencies as a basketball player.
These opinions all changed after seeing what he has done with the Chicago Bulls this season.
Robinson is averaging 12.8 points per game and 4.4 assists.
If—and it's a big if—Robinson would be willing to back up Jrue Holiday, he would provide a scoring spark off the bench. Robinson can knock down the outside jumper at a pretty good rate or use his quickness to maneuver around defenders and find the open shooter.
Assuming he is still head coach next season, Doug Collins would also have the option of pairing Robinson at point guard with Holiday at shooting guard.
At least it would be a backcourt experiment worth considering.
Robinson's will to win and excitement after making a clutch made shot or a brilliant pass will only add to what could and should be a new and refreshing 76ers' identity next season.
Tony Allen of the Memphis Grizzlies is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA.
While his offense is pretty limited (9.0 points per game this season), he makes up for that with his defensive tenacity.
Allen can basically matchup with any backcourt player. Whether it be a point guard or shooting guard, size doesn't matter to Allen.
Tony Allen's on-ball defense is exceptional. The way he moves his feet to cut off ball-handlers is clinical and a lesson to all young basketball players wanting to learn the fundamentals of playing man-to-man defense.
His off-the-ball defense is also top notch. He denies players the ability to receive the ball when and where they want it, and he always knows whether to go under or over a screen, an overlooked yet invaluable art on defense.
Having a defensive stopper is a necessity for all NBA title contenders. Coincidentally or not, it is the kind of player that the Philadelphia 76ers do not currently have.
Tony Allen would be the defensive stopper this team has been missing for quite a few years.