Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony will be sought-after free agents next summer. The Philadelphia 76ers will most likely be near the bottom of their wish list. Attracting marquee free agents is what the Sixers have the most difficulty with, even if they have GM Sam Hinkie working his magic to clear cap space and even manage to help the Houston Rockets land Dwight Howard.
Philadelphia must realize they won’t ever be Los Angeles, Miami, New York or even Brooklyn. Yes, Philadelphia has a population of over 1.5 million residents making it the fifth largest city in the United States (according to city-data.com) and the franchise has a rich and long history as one the all-time winningest franchises in the NBA. The problem is a combo of money and the glamour of living in those other cities mentioned.
What the Sixers must do to attract franchise players is follow a game plan similar to the Boston Celtics or even Houston Rockets. Luckily, Hinkie seems to be implementing a similar plan to what he did for the Rockets. They need to free up as much cap space, offer short-term contracts to questionable players and make some trades.
They can tank all they want, but it won’t guarantee them the No. 1 pick and chance to draft Andrew Wiggins. They may not even be in the running for Jabari Parker or Julius Randle if the Ping Pong ball doesn’t roll their way. The good thing is next year’s draft will be stacked and the Sixers have a chance to strike a deal with a team looking to unload a star for a draft pick.
Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng or even Danny Granger could be in a Sixers jersey next season considering they have either suffered major injuries or have succumbed to age. They would still post quality numbers and could attract free agents.
After all, this strategy has worked for Boston when they managed to acquire Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, both of whom were still in their prime. Free agents, Sam Cassell, James Posey and PJ Brown soon followed helping the Celtics win the franchise’s 17th championship. The Celtics dealt with little success for the longest time before Garnett and Allen came in. They had many fans doubt the franchise would ever return to glory after Larry Bird retired. This can be a possibility for the Sixers if they can make some key trades.
The Sixers also need to stop giving debilitating contracts to players past their time like Chris Webber and Elton Brand, who gave the Sixers little room to acquire another star. They also need to stop making questionable trades such as trading away Andre Iguodala and Nikola Vucevic for Andrew Bynum.
Next summer will be filled with many “ifs” for the Sixers, but the biggest one will be how far they go to attract a franchise player who can make them an instant contender.