The Philadelphia 76ers have a king's ransom in cap space to throw at free agents, per ESPN.com, but the chances of general manager Sam Hinkie splurging on the open market this summer are extremely small.
By all accounts, 2014-15 will be a throwaway year. Joel Embiid, the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, may miss the entire season with a fractured navicular bone in his right foot, per ESPN.com. Philadelphia's No. 10 pick, Elfrid Payton, was traded to the Orlando Magic on draft night in a deal for Dario Saric, who isn't expected to play in the NBA for another two years after electing to stay in Europe.
Gaining further financial leverage, as well as accumulating draft picks, is the name of the game. The 76ers aren't in a position to make a gargantuan leap in the standings. It's going to require an investment of patience from players and fans alike for this experiment to work.
A combination of Embiid and Nerlens Noel—who missed all of last season recovering from knee surgery—in the frontcourt has the potential to do great things.
Banking on two highly touted big men who are entering the league with a slew of injury concerns is undoubtedly a risky proposition, though. Noel is looking good in his pre-summer league workouts, per Tyler Tynes of Philly.com, which should put smiles on many a face in the City of Brotherly Love.
Guard Michael Carter-Williams was named 2014 NBA Rookie of the Year after leading all rookies in scoring (16.7), rebounding (6.3) and assists (6.2). He became the first player since Alvan Adams in 1975-76 to accomplish such a feat.
Even so, concerns remain over his struggles shooting the basketball (40.5 percent from the field), as well as his proneness for turning it over (3.5 turnovers, fifth in the NBA). There were even rumors prior to the draft that the 76ers could deal Carter-Wiliams and use one of their lottery picks to select a more legitimate point guard, via Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk.
The team has some pieces to work with in second-round picks K.J. McDaniels (No. 32), Jerami Grant (No. 39) and Jordan McRae (No. 58 by San Antonio, traded to Philadelphia for cash), but none of them inspire much confidence at this point in time.
James Anderson, Philadelphia's fifth-leading scorer (10.1) and the only player on the team to compete in at least 80 games, was waived on June 30, per NBA.com. Forward Byron Mullens did not pick up his player option and will become a free agent, per Kyle Neubeck of Liberty Ballers.
There are just far too many question marks surrounding the franchise at the moment. All fans can do is follow Hinkie blindly, as he continues to lay the groundwork for a more prosperous future, whenever that may be.
Until then, don't hold your breath for any big splashes in free agency over the next several months.
3. Jordan Hill in the 76ers' Frontcourt
Every team in the NBA needs a player like Jordan Hill on their roster. Rebounding, interior defense and oodles and oodles of energy is how Hill makes his living.
21. Jordan Hill, L.A. Lakers
Hill isn't a household name, but he is an athletic big-man who can rebound -- the type of player that will always have a job in the NBA.
Hill saw plenty of minutes in the Lakers' rotation, with Pau Gasol missing 22 games, although his role became limited when the Spaniard was healthy. He still managed to average career highs across the board with 9.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks.
If it's playing time he wants, than it's playing-time he's going to get in Philadelphia. The rookie Noel will need a strong body like Hill's alongside him in the frontcourt to help hold down the paint and take some of the pressure off on the defensive end.
The problem is that several other teams understand what Hill brings to the table and will be making offers of their own. According to Mark Medina of InsideSocial.com, the Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics are all in the "Jordan Hill Sweepstakes."
One can only assume that winning will play a factor in his decision, but if Hill weighs playing time and a decent chunk of change in his bank account more than anything else, perhaps he should listen to what Hinkie (potentially) has to say.
2. Strong Interest in Kent Bazemore
Bazemore was traded, along with MarShon Brooks, from the Golden State Warriors to the Lakers for Steve Blake on Feb. 19, 2014. He scored in double figures in 12 of his first 13 games with the team after reaching that mark on just two occasions prior to that.
As a Laker, Bazemore averaged 13.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals, while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from behind the arc.
He missed the final few games of the regular season with a torn tendon in his right foot, although he is expected to be at 100 percent for training camp.
According to Kennedy, the 76ers aren't alone in their pursuit of Bazemore. The Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, Utah Jazz, Mavericks and Phoenix Suns have all made inquiries about the 6'5" guard.
With the 76ers' biggest need being at shooting guard, Bazemore could step right in and be a cheap option to fill the void. He's only 25 years old. It would be a low risk, high reward signing that wouldn't dig too deep into their salary cap.
1. Houston Rockets Trading Jeremy Lin to Philadelphia
According to a report by Jake Fischer of SB Nation, the 76ers and Houston Rockets are currently engaging in trade talks that would send Jeremy Lin back to the Eastern Conference.
Lin is owed $8.37 million in the final year of a three-year, $25.1 million deal he signed with the Rockets in 2012.
With Houston GM Daryl Morey in hot pursuit of Carmelo Anthony, ridding himself of Lin's contract would go a long way toward snatching up the seven-time NBA All-Star.
The team has essentially backed themselves into a corner with Lin by showcasing Anthony in a No. 7 jersey (Lin's number) outside of the Toyota Center, per Frank Isola and Peter Botte of the New York Daily News.
In 71 games last season, Lin averaged 12.5 points on 44.6 percent shooting from the field, including 4.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 28.9 minutes, splitting time with Patrick Beverley in the starting lineup.
Lin would likely back up Carter-Williams for the second unit if a move were made. He could even play off-ball at shooting guard if the 76ers can't find a credible option at the 2 spot.
If he proves his worth, chances are the team could sign him on the cheap when his contract comes off the books.
Hinkie would need to force the Rockets into parting ways with a draft pick or two, though. An expiring deal like Lin's is obviously valuable to a rebuilding team, but with Houston nearly in a desperate state, Hinkie would hold all the cards.
All statistics are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.
Christopher Walder is a freelance writer who has been published at Bleacher Report, SB Nation, FanSided, SI.com and several other online outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @WalderSports.
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