Thaddeus Young is a restricted free agent. This means that the Sixers can match any offer for Young that another team makes in free agency and retain him for the same amount. So, in all likelihood, Young will return.
But there apparently have been whispers, as according to Chris Mannix (nested in this HP piece from Danny Chau) the Sixers are worried that Young will be swept off his feet with an offer from another team. Which team is that? Good question. We don’t know – I’m guessing the front office has an idea. Teams with substantial cap room include the Wizards, Nets, Pacers, and Kings. Other teams are expected to gain some cap room through the amnesty clause as well, so the bidding war can become somewhat unpredictable.
In Thaddeus Young, the 76ers have a good, not-old player. But they also have a relatively unknown commodity – no one really knows exactly what he will become in the future. The popular term is a “tweener”, though I’d dispute this to some degree. While the perception that he’s been a perimeter player still exists (even though he barely played at all at the small forward spot – probably 95% of his time came at the four this past year), he could evolve into a player who can consistently play the small forward. As of now though, he’s an undersized four.
The problem with the belief in his evolution, however, is that he hasn’t done anything to show he can handle playing the three on a consistent basis – and without that, his potential is very limited. He’s not big enough to defend most fours, so in his current role he will be inherently limited to a sixth man role. A very good sixth man, but nothing more than that, and would likely be overpaid. If he develops the perimeter skills that he has never show before, he could become a star with a bargain contract. There’s very little in between – either he develops those skills and explodes, or he doesn’t.
Young’s contract, then, can be a high-reward contract if he develops. I have the feeling that the Sixers will match anything (and keep Nocioni’s amnesty in their back-pocket) up to a reasonable amount. Defining reasonable for Thad is a little more difficult – his perceived value rose last year, even though he showed about as much potential as he did in his rookie year. The next year, his production dropped when they tried him out as a full-time small forward. So there’s risk in offering him a big deal. But I think it’s one the team must take – short of a max or near-max contract, I believe the Sixers should match any offers to Young, no matter how short or long. My guess is that it’ll end up being something like 4 years, $36 million from another team – with the Sixers matching. But is this too much? It may be. But sometimes, you have to take risks. Sometimes, they work out for you.