Sixers free agency: Tony Snell a solid under-the-radar target

(Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images) /

Tony Snell makes sense as a free agent target for the Philadelphia 76ers, offering excellent shooting at a reasonable price tag.

The Philadelphia 76ers have made it clear that finding shooters will be the priority when the free agency period begins on July 1. Even if Furkan Korkmaz decides to join the team this season, further adding to a bench crowded with young wings, the Sixers could still use a bona fide starter who can space the floor for their core players.

Tony Snell doesn’t have the name brand appeal of a J.J. Redick, a player the Sixers have been frequently linked to, but there is a chance he could fill that same role at a considerably cheaper cost. Snell started 80 games for the Milwaukee Bucks last season and posted the highest field goal percentage and 3-point percentage of his career, at 45.5 and 40.6 percent respectively. He gets his shot off quickly, can curl or shoot off of a screen, and can finish above the rim. He’s also proven to be a decent defender in the past, with a career defensive rating of 109. At 6-foot-7 with a wingspan of almost 7 feet, he possesses the physical tools to defend effectively on a team with a rim presence like Joel Embiid.

However, Snell’s resume certainly has some warts. For one, his counting stats last season were wholly unremarkable for a player getting so many minutes.

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Snell had a usage rate of 12.1 percent, putting him firmly in fifth option territory. For comparison, rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot had a usage of 17.8 percent. It’s a legitimate concern that asking more of Snell would lead to a significant drop in his efficiency.

There’s also a chance that his production last season was just a mirage. Before his minor breakout in Milwaukee last year, Snell spent three largely disappointing years with the Chicago Bulls. His True Shooting percentage wavered from 48.9 percent to 55 percent to 47.8 percent, prompting the Bulls to deal him in exchange for the Sixers’ most unwitting hero, Michael Carter-Williams. There’s no way to be sure that Snell’s performance is sustainable with such an inconsistent resume.

However, it’s a question that the Sixers should be willing to find the answer to, as long as the price is right. Snell could be a sort of budget Otto Porter for the Sixers, who wouldn’t require him to be anything more than the efficient, low-usage player he’s already shown he can be.

Related Story: Sixers must pursue Otto Porter in free agency

And that brings us to perhaps the most appealing qualities of Snell as a free agent: the price and length of the contract he’ll command. Snell is a restricted free agent, but reports state that he could be available for as little as $11-$13 million.  That sounds like a lot, but it’s only $2 million more than the Sixers paid Jerryd Bayless and Gerald Henderson last year, two players who are clearly veteran placeholders. Snell is young enough to be more than that, and while it seems doubtful he’ll be a starter on a championship team, he can shoot well enough to be a good rotation piece once a better replacement is found.

More important than the price tag is the length of the contract. It’s crucial that the Sixers keep their books for 2020 clean of any expensive veterans, as Rich Hofmann explains in a recent article.

"3. 2020 is the summer the Sixers will get expensive. Covington and Embiid will get their money (more on that below), but the rest of the Sixers’ young core is cost-controlled for a few years. Having Dario Saric, Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Markelle Fultz on rookie deals for at least three more seasons is huge. It’s even more impressive because Dario hasn’t even come over yet.But in 2020, Simmons ($24 million), Saric ($10.5), and TLC ($7.5) will be restricted free agents with high cap holds. Let’s say Embiid is making a max ($30) and Covington is at $11, which puts you at about $95 million for those seven players. That’s before factoring in Richaun Holmes (due a big raise), draft picks, future free agents, and everyone else on the Sixers roster."

Next: Andre Iguodala doesn't make sense for the Sixers

While targets like Redick and Porter make sense for the Sixers, the former could demand too long of a contract, while the Wizards will almost certainly match any offers for the latter. Tony Snell on a 2-year, $25 million contract might be the best marriage of fit and affordability available on the market for the Sixers. Time will tell if Bryan Colangelo and the rest of Sixers management feel the same.