Sixers Stay or Go: Predicting how free agency will fall

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FILE – Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden gestures during the first half of Game 3 of the team’s NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Miami Heat, May 6, 2022, in Philadelphia. A person familiar with the situation said Harden chose not to exercise his $47.4 million option for next season and will become a free agent — but with no designs on leaving Philadelphia. Harden made the decision to allow the 76ers the flexibility they need to sign other players this summer, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side confirmed those plans publicly. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

With the NBA offseason now in full swing, the Philadelphia 76ers will turn their focus to the NBA Draft and free agency. Philadelphia has some key free agents this summer, and the outlook of the team and its championship aspirations are dependent on the decisions that happen on or after June 30th, when free agency kicks off. The Sixers have nine possible free agents, and we are going to predict whether they will be staying in Philly or leaving to find a new home.

James Harden

Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden (1) greets fans after Game 4 in an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series against the Boston Celtics, Sunday, May 7, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

There have been rumors swirling around James Harden making a return to the Houston Rockets this offseason since Christmas Day. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke a story on Christmas Day stating that Harden would be potentially re-signing with the Rockets this offseason as he is looking for a max deal as he moves into the latter stages of his career.

Many thought it was just a leverage play in order to get the Sixers’ front office to give him more money and more years with their contract offer. As the season progressed, the rumors got louder and louder, and with the way the 76ers fizzled out in game 7 against the Boston Celtics, Harden could really be on his way out.

Local Houston Rockets Insiders believe Harden will be returning to Houston, while others around the league are skeptical. Does Harden really care about winning? If he does, his best chance to win is alongside reigning MVP Joel Embiid, his good friends PJ Tucker, Danuel House Jr., and Daryl Morey. If he doesn’t, he’ll head to Houston, where he is comfortable, and he can help try to build with all the young talent they have on the roster. In the end, where there is smoke, there is fire, and there has been a little too much smoke.

Prediction: James Harden Goes.

Georges Niang

Philadelphia 76ers’ Georges Niang (20) reacts after making a shot against Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart during the second half of Game 6 of an NBA basketball playoffs Eastern Conference semifinal, Thursday, May 11, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Georges Niang has had two really solid years with the Sixers, proving to be the volume three-pointer that they need off the bench. Niang’s versatility to fit with the starters or bench unit makes him a unique piece that could continue to help Joel Embiid with spacing.

Niang is a solid regular-season role player but tends to struggle in the playoffs on defense when teams are hunting him on switches. This year he proved to be a little more playable, especially later in the series against the Boston Celtics. Niang doesn’t fit the profile of a Nick Nurse-style player, but teams value shooting, and so should the Sixers.

Prediction: George Niang Stays.

Montrezl Harrell

Philadelphia 76ers’ Montrezl Harrell reacts after a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Harrell has a $2.8 million player option for next season with the Sixers. He started the season as the third-string center and then moved to the backup center within the first couple of weeks. After some up-and-down play and Paul Reed impacting the game defensively, he fell out of the rotation. Even with Nurse at the helm, Harrell may not get much playing time, but would he be guaranteed a rotation spot anywhere else? More than likely not, and becomes a possible trade piece or buyout candidate.

Prediction: Montrezl Harrell Stays.

Shake Milton

November 18, 2022, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA: NBA – Sixers v Bucks Shake Milton (18 Sixers) and Grayson Allen (12 Bucks) in action during the National Basketball Association game between Philadelphia Sixers and Milwaukee Bucks at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Sport Press Photo/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire) ****NO AGENTS—NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SALES ONLY****

Shake Milton has been a mainstay of the Sixers since he was drafted in 2019. He has contributed to this team as a member of the bench and as a starter. He also has had some moments of inconsistency and wasn’t in many of Philadelphia’s playoff rotations the last three years under Doc Rivers. In order for Milton to continue to develop, he needs consistent playing time throughout the year, and he won’t get that with Maxey, Melton, and possibly Harden on the Philadelphia 76ers.

Prediction: Shake Milton Goes.

Jalen McDaniels

Philadelphia 76ers’ Jalen McDaniels (7) goes up for a shot against Boston Celtics’ Derrick White (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Jalen McDaniels was traded to the Sixers at the trade deadline in exchange for Matisse Thybulle and swapping of several second-round draft picks. McDaniel bought a level of versatility and athleticism that this team hasn’t seen in a very long time from the perimeter. The most athletic player the 76ers have had in recent years was Ben Simmons.

McDaniels proved he has the potential to be a rotation player for a contender but needs to work on not fouling so much and his perimeter game. He fits the mold of players that Nurse had in Toronto, and the Sixers traded a rotational player for him. Just doesn’t seem like they would trade for him and let him walk.

Prediction: Jalen McDaniels Stays.

Paul Reed

Philadelphia 76ers forward Paul Reed (44) shoots over Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during the first half of Game 1 in the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series, Monday, May 1, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Paul Reed, when given the opportunity, showed he could be a real solid backup big in the NBA. He showed his versatility on defense and improved his finishing ability on offense. When Embiid was out in the playoffs, he showed he could hang with some of the better teams in the league.

Reed still has to improve his propensity for fouling and his shooting, but he has a lot of potential. His performance in the playoffs made him a target for teams around the league this off-season. Fitting the mold of former players of Nurse and his ability to be a reliable backup for Embiid, the Sixers have to match any offer he gets in restricted free agency.

Prediction: Paul Reed Stays.

Dewayne Dedmon

CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 02: Miami Heat center Dewayne Dedmon (21) makes a lay up in action during a NBA game between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls on April 2, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire)

Dewayne Dedmon was signed in the buyout market for depth behind Joel Embiid and wasn’t a factor at all last season. Dedmon won’t bring any value in the upcoming season, and can’t see the Sixers bringing him back.

Prediction: Dewayne Dedmon Goes.

Mac McClung

Mac McClung of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts after winning the slam dunk competition of the NBA basketball All-Star weekend Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The 2023 NBA Dunk Contest Champion and 2023 NBA G-League Champion helped create some buzz for himself during All-Star weekend. His dunk contest performance and performance during the G-League finals could earn him a training camp spot with another NBA team, but his time on a two-way with the Sixers is more than likely up.

Prediction: Mac McClung Goes.

Louis King

Philadelphia 76ers forward Louis King (23) dribbles against Brooklyn Nets guard Patty Mills (8) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 9, 2023 in New York. (AP Photo/Jessie Alcheh)

King is another two-way player that helped the Delaware Bluecoats win the G-League championship. King is a fringe NBA player who would likely get a training camp invite to another team in the NBA but not the Sixers. King could return to the Bluecoats to try to help them repeat and earn an opportunity to make it back to the NBA.

Prediction: Louis King Goes.

The Philadelphia 76ers are in for one wild offseason, and it starts at 6 PM on June 30th. So many decisions that will determine whether this team remains a contender or not, with James Harden’s decision at the top of the list.