Jan 17, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Heat defeated the Sixers 101-86. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Despite all the losing that is taking place in Philadelphia this year, it is clear that general manager Sam Hinkie, CEO Scott O’Neil, head coach Brett Brown, and the rest of the Sixers’ brass have a plan. What that plan consisted of was stockpiling young assets and draft picks. The belief that Hinkie had in his plan for success was clear when he willingly sent the Sixers’ lone All-Star from a season ago, Jrue Holiday, to New Orleans.
Moving forward, there is no telling what the future holds, but with a plethora of young talent and more to come in the upcoming draft, there is finally anticipation building around the future potential of the franchise.
With young talented players such as Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel in addition to the influx of talent that should make its way to the City of Brotherly Love in the near future, whether or not Hinkie will do enough via free agency to turn this franchise around quickly remains a mystery.
In years prior to coming to Philly, Hinkie was the assistant GM of the Houston Rockets. Houston’s blue print worked to perfection. They drafted well by landing players such as Chandler Parsons in the second round, made cap room, acquired James Harden via trade, and eventually were able to gather enough talent to lure Dwight Howard to Houston as well.
If the plan is anything like the one Hinkie and Daryl Morey developed and executed, then luring a big time free agent will be the most vital stage. While it is a process developing players and gathering enough talent to intrigue some of the premier free agents, it all comes down to eventually landing that star player to take the team to the next level.
Financially, the Sixers are in a great position to sign an elite free agent, perhaps even multiple. Only $17.3 million of the existing contracts on the current roster is guaranteed for next year and that includes over $9 million to Thaddeus Young that may very well be on his way elsewhere via trade.
Philly is one of the biggest markets in the nation, and given in its flexibility, there is potential to become an attractive destination for top-notch players.
For younger free agents such as Gordon Hayward, Lance Stephenson, and Jimmer Fredette, the combination of young talent, virtually guaranteed playing time given their depleted roster, and Brown’s dedication to player development may be a factor when it becomes time for them to make a decision on their future.
Carter-Williams has already established himself as a centerpiece of the Sixers’ franchise and one of the up-and-coming stars of the Association. With the early success that he has experienced, outsiders have come to the conclusion that the Sixers’ future is bright.
Rookie center Noel was viewed as the consensus top pick of the 2013 draft class prior to tearing his ACL in a game against Florida during his one and only season as a Kentucky Wildcat. While he has yet to step foot on the floor for the Sixers, he is constantly working on his offensive game and bulking up his lean frame. MCW is currently the favorite to become this season’s Rookie of the Year, but Noel is establishing himself as an early candidate for next season.
Countless factors go into a free agent’s decision on where he is going to play. However, the Sixers can offer more money than nearly every team, guarantee some younger players playing time, and what seems to be a bright future with all the young talent already on the roster and the rest that will come from this year’s loaded draft class.
Whether or not free agents may view Philly as a potential landing spot for their talents remains unknown, but there are plenty of reasons to think if they aren’t now then they may be in the near future.