Heading into last offseason, the Philadelphia 76ers had a ton of cap space and financial flexibility to work with. That's not the case this year though, as the team has the vast majority of its space tied up in the contracts of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Josh Richardson. Thus, barring any major trades, the Sixers will be very limited in terms of the type of players that they can go after in free agency this offseason.
The top-tier players on the market are out of the question, as the Sixers won't be able to afford them. Philadelphia can use its mid-level exception to get a deal done, but, otherwise, they will have to look to sign players near, or at, the veterans minimum. Despite the limited cap space that they have to work with, the Sixers will have some holes to fill as Kyle O'Quinn, Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III, and Raul Neto are all headed for unrestricted free agency. With that said, here's a look at five potential free agent targets for Philadelphia this offseason.
1. Alec Burks
Philadelphia acquired Burks from the Golden State Warriors at the trade deadline last season, and after a bit of a slow start, he proved to be a very valuable piece for the team by the time postseason play rolled around. Burks received inconsistent opportunities under Brett Brown, and he would likely benefit from a more defined role under new coach Doc Rivers. As a reliable floor-spacer -- he shot 41 percent from long range for the Sixers during the regular season -- Burks is a solid fit alongside All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and as a player also capable of generating his own offense he filled a specific need for Philly.
Given his skill set, the Sixers certainly won't be the only team interested in Burks, and they could very well get outbid for his services. However, after playing with Embiid and Simmons and seeing how many open opportunities they generate for him, perhaps Burks will want to remain in Philadelphia, even if it's for slightly less than he could get elsewhere. If that's the case, the Sixers would be wise to bring him back.
2. Kyle Korver
Veteran forward Kyle Korver doesn't have much left to give at this point in his career, but the one thing he can still do at a high level -- shoot -- happens to be a skill that the Sixers need desperately. Korver is one of the most prolific 3-point shooters of all time, and defenses are forced to respect his shot virtually as soon as he crosses half court. The attention that he draws from defenses, in turn, opens things up for other players on the offensive end. He's a career 42 percent shooter from long distance, and he shot 41 percent from deep in Milwaukee last season. The Bucks used Korver to generate space for Giannis Antetokounmpo in transition and in the halfcourt, and the Sixers could use him in the exact same manner, except he would be creating space for Embiid and Simmons as opposed to Antetokounmpo.
Korver signed a one year deal for the veteran's minimum with Milwaukee last season, so Philadelphia would be able to afford him if he was open to taking a similar deal. Before signing with the Bucks, Korver also seriously considered signing with the Sixers. Perhaps this time around, he will.
3. Trey Burke
Burke spent a large chunk of the past season buried on the Sixers bench. Brett Brown just couldn't find a consistent role for him, which was odd, given that Burke's skill set and dual ability to both knockdown catch-and-shoot 3-pointers and initiate offense with the ball in his hands was exactly what the team needed. He was ultimately released and went on to sign with the Dallas Mavericks. In Dallas, Burke got some consistent opportunities, and he showed what he could do. Burke appeared in all six of Dallas' playoff games, and he averaged 12.3 points and two assists in 26 minutes per performance while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 47 percent from long range.
He would be a player that the Sixers could probably afford, he fills a direct need for the team, and like Burks, he would likely have a more defined role under Rivers, which would be beneficial to his play. Burke is already familiar with the Sixers organization, and their current core players. For all of those reasons, a reunion would make sense.
4. D.J. Augustin
Augustin isn't a flashy name, but he's experienced and he could potentially be a solid backup point guard for the Sixers. Over the course of his career, he has a respectable assist-to-turnover ratio of 4/1.5, and he's a career 37 percent shooter from long range. As a reliable creator and floor-spacer, there will be a decent market for Augustin. The freshly crowned NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly interested in his services, and they likely aren't alone. Ultimately, another team might be able to offer more than the SIxers but he should definitely be on their radar.
At the peak of his powers, Thomas was a 20-plus point per game scorer. He even averaged 28.9 points per game with the Celtics during the 2016-17 season. He's far from that player today, as age and injury issues have robbed him of some of his explosion. However, he could still be capable of providing some instant offense off of the bench -- something that the Sixers could use, as they were 26th league-wide in bench scoring as a team last season at 32.8 points per game.
Thomas, 31, underwent hip surgery earlier this year, and he feels rejuvenated as a result of the procedure.
"It's like night and day for me," Thomas said of his post-surgery status. "There's no more pain. I've got my range of motion. For three years, I was trying to play the best players in the world on one leg. I needed help from my kids to put my socks on in the morning.
"Now, I can lift weights. I can squat low. I can work out twice a day. I'm able to cut and move and stop, able to cut and go. I feel like I'm 31 years old again... I made the right decision to do this, and I'm anxious to show people I can contribute to a team again."
Thomas will likely be looking for a deal at the veteran's minimum, so he would be affordable for the Sixers, and as a player capable of putting the ball in the basket, he might be worth a flyer for Philly.