76ers' Biggest Winners and Losers from 2021 NBA Free Agency

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 19, 2021

76ers' Biggest Winners and Losers from 2021 NBA Free Agency

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    For all of the talk about the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason, they didn't make much noise on the free-agency front.

    Like most of the NBA's win-now teams, they were crunched for cap space. They squeezed out enough to re-sign Danny Green and Furkan Korkmaz, added Georges Niang and Andre Drummond and they lost George Hill and Dwight Howard.

    There isn't a needle-mover in the bunch—though Green and Korkmaz can look the part when they catch fire from three—but the activity was enough to create a couple of winners and one free-agency loser.

Winner: Furkan Korkmaz

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    Remember when Furkan Korkmaz was struggling for floor time and eager for a ticket out of Philly? The sharpshooter has come a long way since—as has his relationship with the franchise.

    He perhaps surprised some by sticking with the Sixers during his previous trip to the open market, when he took a two-year deal (with a team option on the second) for the veteran's minimum. Two seasons and 244 threes (splashed at a 39 percent clip) later, there were no surprises when he again tied his future to the franchise's.

    Only the relationship proved a lot more fruitful this time around, as he snagged a three-year deal worth $15 million. The whole thing is guaranteed too, so barring a trade, he will be with the only NBA organization he's known for the foreseeable future.

    And given the unique spacing issues in Philly—where the point guard (Ben Simmons) shrinks the floor, and the center (Joel Embiid) tries to open back it up—Korkmaz gets a fluorescent green light every time he hits the hardwood.

Loser: Ben Simmons

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    Simmons wasn't a free agent this summer and won't be until 2025, so how he is a loser?

    Well, for starters, he's still in Philly, which is where he no longer wants to be, as B/R's Jake Fischer recently detailed:

    "Simmons, on the other hand, appears more than interested in playing for a new team. He expects to be traded and has not personally been in close contact with [Sixers president Daryl] Morey, Embiid or head coach Doc Rivers this offseason, sources told Bleacher Report. Simmons' representation has further canvassed rival front offices, gauging their interest in creating a new home for the 25-year-old All-Star and this year's runner-up in Defensive Player of the Year."

    Free agency could have held some exit avenues via sign-and-trades, but if those options existed, they are off the table now.

    Also, this is functionally the same roster as it was before free agency started. You know, the same one people have been saying Simmons doesn't fit into for years. There were scenarios in which the Sixers eased the pressure on Simmons by adding more shot creation and playmaking to their backcourt—Philly native Kyle Lowry would've been perfect—but nothing came to fruition.

Winner: Georges Niang

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    Georges Niang is a self-made rotation player.

    The 50th pick in 2016, it essentially took him two teams and four seasons to carve out a regular role as a sharpshooting stretch 4. But he held that post the past two seasons for the Utah Jazz and only strengthened his case for playing time by converting 41.4 percent of his perimeter looks.

    The Sixers saw enough in his size (6'7", 230 pounds) and spacing to guarantee his two-year, $6.7 million contract. He will get a chance to repay that trust with one three-point barrage after another.

    Philly needs all the shooting it can get, so when one of its snipers gets a look at the basket, his only objective is to let it fly. Niang's shooting light will be as green as he could want, and he might surprise some people with his subtle off-the-dribble game and smart passing.