76ers Buyout Targets to Pursue After 2021 NBA Trade DeadlineApril 1, 2021
76ers Buyout Targets to Pursue After 2021 NBA Trade Deadline
The Philadelphia 76ers slipped to second place in the NBA's Eastern Conference on Wednesday night, but the evening wasn't all doom and gloom.
Prior to the Sixers' loss to the Denver Nuggets, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium brought word that All-Star center Joel Embiid is slated to return Saturday night (barring any setbacks, of course) from a three-week absence for bone bruise in his left knee.
With Embiid back in the mix, Philly can again turn its attention toward escaping the East and making its first Finals trip since 2001.
Part of that trek could involve a brief journey over to the buyout market in search of reinforcements. There might not be true difference-makers available, but the following three potentially available players could all carve out roles in coach Doc Rivers' rotation.
Wayne Ellington, Detroit Pistons
Even though the Sixers couldn't lure Kyle Lowry back home at the trade deadline, they could still make another homecoming happen in the City of Brotherly Love.
Sharpshooter Wayne Ellington should be an obvious target if he ever breaks loose from the rebuilding Detroit Pistons.
The Sixers double-doubled into the sniper ranks this offseason by acquiring both Danny Green and Seth Curry. But even with those investments, Philly finds itself sitting just 24th in three-pointers per game at 10.9.
Ellington could up that count in a hurry. The 33-year-old has enjoyed a resurgent season in the Motor City, splashing 2.7 triples per night at a 42.6 percent clip. He could be a potent receiving option off of passes out of the post by Embiid or drive-and-kick deliveries from Ben Simmons.
Cory Joseph, Detroit Pistons
Despite having one of the Association's premier playmakers in Simmons, the Sixers are only 26th in assist percentage at 55.7. The primary issue there is a lack of secondary shot-creators around or behind Simmons.
Curry, Shake Milton and rookie Tyrese Maxey are all at their best when finding their own shots, and while each has had some success in that department, that doesn't do much to elevate the players around them. That's where a player like veteran Cory Joseph could find his fit.
He makes his biggest mark as a bulldog defender, but he can get the ball moving in a backup lead guard role. He has averaged 4.7 assists per 36 minutes for his career, and he cleared 5.0 per 36 in each of his past two seasons.
Those aren't gargantuan numbers obviously, but even the 4.7 figure represents more than any non-Simmons Sixer has averaged this season. So long as the front office and coaching staff wouldn't be worried about spacing issues—Joseph is only a 33.2 percent three-point shooter for his career—he could find his way to modest floor time.
Kelly Olynyk, Houston Rockets
The Sixers have done an admirable job of juicing the orange at their backup center spot. Between Dwight Howard and the recently traded away Tony Bradley, Philadelphia has found welcome competence at the 5 in its non-Embiid minutes.
Still, there isn't much versatility in this group, especially if Rivers doesn't want to go super small by putting Mike Scott at the 5, a position at which he has only spent 5 percent of his minutes this season. Kelly Olynyk would add a spacing element to the position group without needing to sacrifice any size.
The 6'11", 240-pounder is a career 36.5 percent shooter from long range, and last season, he connected on 40.6 percent of his long-range looks. He's limited at the defensive end, as he's neither a shot-blocker nor a smooth mover going side-to-side. But the Sixers could feel they have enough perimeter defenders to prevent major collapses at that end when he's on the floor.
As an added bonus, bringing in Olynyk might be a sneaky-good way of perking up the passing game. He makes quick, decisive reads with the basketball, and Rivers could draw up some funky dribble-handoff looks involving the 2013 lottery pick.
Statistics used courtesy of Basketball Reference and NBA.com. Salary information obtained via Basketball Insiders.