While the trade deadline has come and gone, there are always ways to continue improving a roster. One example of this is seen in the buyout market, which occurs when a team and a player mutually agree that their long-term future does not involve each other. This market manifests itself shortly after the trade deadline and often involves players that were traded away. It is essentially a second chance for the player to find a new team and have a more impactful or fulfilling end to their season.
The most important thing to note is that the search for players first involves that player becoming available via another team. Starting January 10th, all NBA players are guaranteed their full salary even if they are waived. For players in the final year of their deal, a buyout is an easy process. The team eats the agreed-upon sum of money and, once they clear waivers 48 hours later, the player is free to field offers for a new team.
When a player signs with a new team, the prorated salary comes off the amount that the team that released them owes the player. This is a strategy that has become increasingly relied on by teams who are strapped against the salary cap and often the top-end contenders. The Sixers absolutely fit this description and must capitalize on this market to complete the current roster.
Positions of Need
The most difficult aspect of building a championship roster is to secure the necessary amount of top-end talent to compete. This was the goal of the James Harden trade as Daryl Morey was able to pair Joel Embiid with a legitimate perimeter star for the first time in his career. While this trade is a massive accomplishment, ensuring that the rest of the roster is complete is also incredibly important, and with one available roster spot due to the trade, they must capitalize e on this.
There can be a real argument for many positions that need upgrades on the Sixers roster. Shipping off Andre Drummond has weakened the Sixers at backup big man, there still isn’t a traditional backup point guard on the roster, and the Sixers are noticeably weak on wing athleticism and shooting.
What to Prioritize?
What makes the buyout market difficult is that you are mostly at the mercy of whoever becomes available. Beggars cannot be choosers, and it is entirely possible that the missing piece that Morey has in mind simply does not become available. However, if there are options on the table, the Sixers would be wise to prioritize adding some wing depth to increase their championship hopes.
As it currently stands, the Sixers wing depth includes Danny Green, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, Isaiah Joe, Georges Niang, and Charlie Brown Jr. While each player has their own individual strengths and weaknesses, it is tough to look at any player on this list and feel great about their role on a championship team. Outside of Matisse Thybulle, it also is very clear the lack of athleticism in this group could serve as a real matchup problem down the line.
With Tyrese Maxey and James Harden both likely in the closing lineup for the Sixers, there is clearly a need for a larger wing defender on the roster. Matisse Thybulle does his best work when pestering perimeter ball-handlers, so if there were a larger wing defender, this would increase the Sixers’ versatility. Matisse is thought of as the end-all defensive stopper, but his 6’5 height and slimmer frame can cause issues against bigger wings. When looking ahead to the Sixers playoff run, there are some serious matchup issues with names like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jaylen Brown, DeMar DeRozan, and more. While many people refuse to acknowledge the positives in Ben Simmons‘ game, these are new concerns the Sixers will have given his departure.
What Potential Names?
The NBA requires that the buyout deadline for playoff eligibility is on March 1st, so the list of names will likely start popping up soon. Tyreke Evans made some news after being reinstated to the NBA following his two-year ban for violating the NBA anti-drug program. Evans stands 6’6, is 32-years-old and averaged 15.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.6 assists during the 594 career games he played. He will likely have to shake some rust off, but Evans could provide an interesting new element to the Sixers’ offense.
The ideal name on the list would be Gary Harris, who plays a defensive-oriented style of play and is averaging 11.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.0 assists with the Orlando Magic this season. While there has been optimism of this connection, Harris is far from certain to be bought out. The 27-year-old is in the final year of his deal with $20 million on the books this season, so it is possible the Magic look to cut this cost, but this is not a guy the Sixers should sit around waiting on.
There are plenty of other names to keep an eye on in the coming days. If made available, Goran Dragic, Dennis Schroder, Derrick Favors, and Tristan Thompson could pique Daryl Morey’s interest. Kent Bazemore also would be an excellent fit, and he seems to have fallen out of the rotation with the Lakers.
The bottom line is the Sixers’ work in completing the roster is not done yet. Stay tuned for who rounds out the bottom of the roster, but the Sixers would be wise to target a wing for this open slot.