With Sixers’ James Harden declining the option, six free agents who could fit

It appears that James Harden’s decision to decline his player option will greatly expand the Sixers’ options.

With that in mind, it’s worth remembering that the Sixers currently have 12 players under contract and can’t just dish out overwhelmingly compelling offers to anyone they want.

Still, it looks like the team should have useful resources to improve their depth in free agency, which officially begins Thursday at 6:00 p.m. ET. PhillyVoice’s Kyle Neubeck reported that the Sixers expect to have access to the mid-level non-taxpayer exemption (about $10.5 million), the semi-annual exception (about $4.1 million), and “some room for sign-and-trades.”

We don’t know what the exact numbers of Harden’s new deal will be, but all of this reinforces the 32-year-old guard’s willingness to take a significant pay cut to help the team add quality free agents. Harden’s option for the 2022-23 season was approximately $47.4 million.

So which players could be reasonable Sixers targets?

PJ Tucker

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein are among those who have reported on the Sixers’ interest in Tucker. We’ll go into more detail on his fit with the Sixers should the team ultimately sign him, but for now suffice it to say that the 37-year-old’s comfort alongside Harden, tenacious defense against star scorers and ability to playing in the middle are positive for him. d bring to the table.

Daniel Haus Jr.

Hours after Danny Green was dispatched last week in a trade for De’Anthony Melton when asked where the Sixers stood on the wing, basketball operations president Daryl Morey kept it simple.

“We might need another wing,” Morey said.

Like Tucker, House started alongside Harden at Morey’s Rockets. He earned a rotation spot in Jazz late last season, averaging 12.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 0.9 blocks per 36 minutes. The best version of house is a player who creates good things – distractions, blocks, various energy plays – while also blending in well with stars.

Cody Martin

The Hornets made Martin a qualifying offer of $2.2 million, making him a restricted free agent.

The 26-year-old wing would be a similar addition to Melton as he has a track record of forcing turnovers and may be ready to move on. He’s not a high-volume three-pointer, although Martin made a dramatic leap in efficiency last season, scoring 38.4 percent of his three-pointers.

Juan Toscano Anderson

Anthony Slater of The Athletic reported that Toscano-Anderson is now an unrestricted free agent because the Warriors failed to extend a qualifying $2.1 million bid.

Toscano-Anderson is versatile, selfless and able to fill in the unexpected holes that inevitably need to be plugged over the course of a season. His shooting declined after a 2020-21 season in which he made over 40 percent of his threes, but bench players are always susceptible to small fluctuations in sample size. Toscano-Anderson will take on open jumpers and also enjoys fielding teammates for them.

Bryn Forbes

Regardless of the position designation – combo guard, small two guard, etc. – Forbes is a shooter. He has converted 41.3 percent of his NBA three-pointers and hasn’t gone below 38.8 percent over the past five seasons.

Perhaps the Sixers don’t want a third player at or around 6-foot-2 in their rotation (along with Melton and Tyrese Maxey), but Morey appreciates shooting for stars who often draw doubles teams.

Serge Ibaka

Morey indicated at his post-draft press conference that he doesn’t see the backup center as a priority in free agency.

“I know (head coach Doc Rivers) is very excited about what Paul Reed has given us on the track. … It’s a long road for a great, successful team like ours, but the hope is that (Charles) Bassey could contribute sometime this year,” Morey said. “Paul will hopefully build on what he did late last year.

“Again, we’re going to be opportunistic here and make larger free agency spends. There will be opportunistic considerations about minimum spending. But I think the bar for minimum spend at the backup center will be high because we feel like we have some people who can contribute.”

If the Sixers decide on a veteran center, Ibaka, Gorgui Dieng, Robin Lopez and Bismack Biyombo are names to consider. None of these players seem important to us or likely to have much of an impact, but they are theoretical options if the Sixers want a more traditional “know what you’re getting” center than 23-year-old Reed. 21-year-old Bassey and maybe the 6-foot-5 tucker.