Despite the entire sports world shutting down due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, the recent frenzy surrounding that of NFL Free Agency has given every sports fan something to get excited about. DeAndre Hopkins got traded, Tom Brady is leaving New England, etc etc etc.
With that in mind, now seemed like the perfect time to reflect back on some of the Sixers’ greatest free agent moves of all time. And no, Al Horford most definitely will not be on this list.
#5. George Lynch
Most likely the least known name on this list, Lynch’s time in Philadelphia was short yet extremely productive. A former #12 overall pick, Lynch signed with the 76ers prior to the 1999 season for a measly $8 million over 3 years (adjusted for inflation).
Lynch’s numbers were never eye-popping during his time in Philly, however, he did set career highs in both points per game (9.6) and rebounds per game (7.8).
The 6’ 8” forward makes this list primarily for his role on the 2000-2001 NBA finals team. While league MVP Allen Iverson no doubt “carried” the squad for the most part during that finals run, it was the silently productive guys like Goerge Lynch which made it all possible.
#4. Robert Covington
A Sam Hinkie/Process Era legend, Robert Covington will most likely go down as the best undrafted free agent signing in Sixers history.
After being cut by Houston in 2014, current Sixers GM at the time Sam Hinkie was quick to snag the versatile forward. Covington was signed to a four-year contract and made his Philly debut just a few days later.
“RoCo” quickly began finding his way into the hearts of Philadelphia fans everywhere, impressing with his elite defensive capabilities and his above-average shooting. Over a three-game stretch in late 2015, Covington became the first player to record 6+ steals in three consecutive games since 1988.
Covington would average 12.9ppg over his five seasons with the 76ers, while also being named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team in 2018. He was eventually used to land an All-Star talent in Jimmy Butler prior to the team’s 2019 playoff run.
#3. JJ Redick
Who owns the 76ers’ franchise record for most three-pointers hit in a season? Yup, you guessed it, the sharpshooter out of Duke: JJ Redick.
Redick signed with Philadelphia prior to the 2017-2018 season, in hopes of providing some much-needed floor spacing to a Joel Embiid/Ben Simmons centered offense. Over the course of two seasons with the Sixers, JJ hit 433 total threes, shot over 40% from beyond the arc, and averaged just over 17 points per game.
Redick’s leadership and elite scoring was a major factor in Philly getting back to the playoffs after a multi-year drought.
#2. George McGinnis
One of the all-time ABA greats, power forward George McGinnis signed with the Philadelphia 76ers at the start of the 1975 season, in what would turn out to be a three-year stint with Philly.
Teaming up with Julius Erving, many labeled this duo as one of the first “superteams” which was formed through free agency (as opposed to the draft). McGinnis and Erving would go on to dominate the league together, leading the Sixers to the NBA Finals in 1977.
In his time with the Sixers, McGinnis averaged 21.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game. He was selected to two All-Star games and made both an All-NBA First and Second Team.
McGinnis was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.
#1. Julius “Dr. J” Erving
One of the greatest basketball players to ever grace an NBA court, Julius Erving aka “Dr. J” is without question the best free-agent acquisition the Sixers have ever pulled off.
While this was not a stereotypical free agency signing, in the sense that there was some confusion regarding how Erving actually joined Philly. The Sixers technically “bought” Erving from the New York Nets in 1976. Regardless, the move fits the bill of paying money to acquire a player.
It’s hard to put into words just how dominant “The Doctor” was during his time with the Sixers. Over the course of 11 seasons in the NBA, Erving was selected to 11 consecutive All-Star games. He won league MVP in 1981, was selected to 5 All-NBA First Teams and 2 All-NBA Second Teams, and even won two All-Star game MVPs.
Erving averaged 22 points per game on over 50% shooting with the Sixers, and of course, would go on to win a championship for the city in 1983. Dr. J left behind a legacy that saw him remembered as one of the greatest scorers and dunkers in basketball history.
Erving was named into the Hall of Fame in 1993 and would have his iconic #6 jersey retired by the 76ers organization. He currently sits in the top ten of all-time scorers on the merged ABA/NBA leaderboard.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports