The Sixers could be looking Nate Robinson's way.
It's almost time for free agency to get back into full swing for the NBA, so what better time to talk about which free agents are the most intriguing for the Philadelphia 76ers to sign using the mid-level exception?
If that sentence felt like a word maze, then let's break down what those words really mean before we get into the players.
Hoopsrumors.com describes what a mid-level exception is and the conditions for which it changes:
The mid-level exception is the most common way for over-the-cap NBA teams to sign other teams' free agents. The exception can be used every season and can be split among multiple players, but different teams receive access to different mid-level exceptions based on their cap situations.
A team whose total player salaries, cap exceptions, and cap holds amount to less than the salary cap forfeits its full mid-level exception. A taxpaying team also doesn't have access to the full mid-level. However, both under-the-cap and taxpaying teams receive a lesser form of the MLE
That was all a fancy way of saying that a team gets rewarded a contract in the offseason worth a set amount of money based on if they were over the salary cap and under the luxury cap line. The Sixers are over the salary cap yet under the luxury tax line, allowing them the opportunity at offering the full exception.
Now that we got most of the business out of the way, let's take a closer look at which free agents should catch the Sixers eye this offseason.
Robinson puts up scoring in bunches.
Robinson is far from a lockdown defender. He has a tendency to take plays off, and he occasionally gets moody when he isn't involved in the offense. Those might all be bad qualities, but in Robinson's case, his positives outweigh his negatives.
One trait in particular stands out above the rest: The man can absolutely light up the scoreboard when he is feeling it.
His knack for hot shooting, extreme intensity and tendency to become an instant fan favorite have Robinson's name looking like a tempting one for Philadelphia's mid-level exception.
Augustin played more of a traditional point guard role this past year
The Sixers already have a stud as their starting point guard. Jrue Holiday proved he's Philadelphia's future at point with his play this past season. But the majority of elite point guards need a legitimate backup to manage the game while they get rest.
This is something the Sixers haven't had in some time: A traditional 1-guard who manages the game and doesn't let things get out of control.
Enter D.J. Augustin.
His role with the Indiana Pacers last year had him playing in that exact role. Sure, he occasionally scored the ball in larger volumes, but the majority of his time was spent relieving starter George Hill while not making mistakes on the floor.
Augustin's youth could also allow him to grow in a Sixers uniform. He has experience doing exactly what Philadelphia needs of him.
It's just up to Philly to decide if it is interested.
Switch jerseys, Dalembert. You know you want to.
We all miss Samuel Dalembert in Philadelphia, don't we?
Okay, missing him might not justify a contract, but what he brings to the court certainly does. Dalembert has made a career out of his defense. He's never been a real thick guy who can bang around in the post. Instead, his length has always put him in the position to block or change shots near the basket.
There is no question about the stage of Dalembert's career. The end is near, and he only has a couple of productive seasons left. Signing him isn't going to put more points on the board or improve attendance, but it will definitely help with interior defense.
The fact that he's a high-character guy whom fans would love back in Philly is just a bonus.
Aminu's length could be crucial for his defensive development
Al-Farouq Aminu's name makes the list as an underdog with undetermined value.
This situation is really dependent on what Philadelphia wants to happen. His value might be slightly less than the rest of the players on this list, but it is still high. That's no knock on him; it just means he is fairly limited outside of his athletic ability on defense and in transition.
Aminu has the potential to be a one-on-one defensive stopper, and combining that with the Sixers' current roster might fit.
Brewer matches up well against most opposing small forwards.
The Philadelphia 76ers aren't a championship team yet. Still, they can become a deep playoff team with a couple of correct personnel decisions and the right big man.
One of the personnel decisions that could be a piece of the puzzle is to acquire a lockdown perimeter defender. Nearly every team that ends up as one of the final NBA teams remaining has a player like this.
A player who fits this role and is worth taking a look at is Ronnie Brewer. He isn't too gifted athletically, but he has the length, size and smarts to handle almost anybody he guards.
The Eastern Conference is full of incredibly talented small forwards who can score in a variety of ways. You can try to stop players like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, but they will eventually find ways to score the ball. They might not be able to be stopped, but it is possible to contain them.
There are ways to limit what they can do.
Philadelphia fans saw this when Andre Iguodala was on the team. Could Brewer be the next guy with this responsibility?
It could be worth a shot.
He's undersized and doesn't have ACLs. Sounds like a guy Philly could use.
DeJuan Blair has to be one of the most talented players spending his career on the bench. We know how talented he is because Blair used to see consistent playing time.
The first three years of this career were spent improving. He averaged around 21 minutes per game in each of those seasons, and saw his numbers climb as time went on. In the shortened 2011-12 year, Blair averaged 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while seeing that kind of playing time.
Then (as the San Antonio Spurs often do) his team became overloaded with talent at every position, forcing him to the bench. All of the sudden he only saw 14 minutes per game and his stats predictably took a dive because of that.
At 6'7" and 270 pounds, Blair doesn't have a prototypical power forward's body. He's undersized, but it's really never gotten in his way before. If anything, Blair has used his size and combat with adversity to fuel him toward success.
You have to remember that this guy was a top prospect out of the University of Pittsburgh until it was discovered that he doesn't have any anterior cruciate ligaments in his knees. Since his condition scared teams away from taking him in the first round, the Spurs ended up grabbing him in the second, and he's been a productive member of their team since.
He has a way of making people look foolish if they don't believe in him. That kind of attitude and game is perfect for Philadelphia.