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Moore: How much can the Sixers help themselves in NBA free agency?

  | Bucks County Courier Times

The 76ers are going to have to help themselves in free agency during the NBA offseason.

Yes, Sixers general manager Elton Brand could look into trading veteran big man Al Horford, which figures to be difficult because of the guaranteed $74 million he’s owed over the next three seasons, and/or shooting guard Josh Richardson in an effort to re-shape the roster for new coach Doc Rivers.

Richardson would be more intriguing to teams because he’s a lot younger than Horford (27 to 34), versatile and has $10.9 million left on his contract with a player option for $11.6 million in 2021-22.

While the salary-cap space from 2019-20 is gone and they are in luxury-tax territory, the Sixers still have the taxpayer mid-level exception that was $5.7 million last season, a $1.9 million trade exception (from sending James Ennis to the Magic) and league-minimum contracts.

The Sixers’ primary needs are shooters to surround all-stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid with, as well as wing defenders. The inability to knock down 3-pointers and stay in front of the Celtics’ wings was a big reason the Sixers were swept in the opening round of the playoffs.

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There are reports the salary cap could increase the way it was scheduled to before the COVID-19 pandemic hit (from $109.1 million to $115 million), stay the same or drop due to the extensive revenue losses. How that turns out, which must happen in November ,could really impact the Sixers.

While they’d have to pay a bigger luxury-tax penalty if the cap drops, it could mean some players won’t get the long-term contracts they covet, thereby increasing the chances somebody might be willing to sign a 1-year deal for below market value to bet on himself that a good year would pay off with what he’s looking for in 2021-22.

Forward Danilo Gallinari, who played two seasons for Rivers with the Clippers before spending last year with the Thunder, would be a great addition. He hit .418 of his 3-pointers over the past two years. The problem is he made $22.6 million last season. It’s doubtful he’d be willing to play for the $5.7 million exception and a sign-and-trade with Oklahoma City wouldn’t appear likely.

Nets swingman Joe Harris, who hit .438 of his 3-pointers over the past three seasons, would really help with the offensive spacing, but it’s hard to imagine Brooklyn won’t re-sign him.

Wizards forward Davis Bertans would also spread the floor in Philly. He knocked down 42.6% of his 3-pointers in the last two years. But those numbers probably won’t result in a decrease from his $7.25 million salary in 2019-20.

Forward Jae Crowder, who earned $7 million last season, would look good in the Sixers’ frontcourt after playing so well for the Heat. He would seem to be in line for a raise, too.

Pelicans shooting guard E’Twaun Moore would address multiple needs because he’s a good shooter — .415 on 3-pointers over the past three years — and a quality wing defender. He’d have to accept a cut in his salary from $8.7 million unless the teams could work out a sign-and-trade.

Lakers guard Avery Bradley, who played parts of two seasons with Rivers on the Clipprs, would be a defensive upgrade, but I’d think he picks up his $4.9 million option after winning a title with LeBron James and company.

Austin Rivers, son of Doc, has a player option for $2.3 million with the Rockets. If Austin declines it, he would be available. He is capable of scoring but just an average 3-point shooter (.356 last season), so he wouldn’t be the best fit.

They could consider 39-year-old former Sixer Kyle Korver or 34-year-old ex-Sixer Marco Belinelli, but it should be for limited roles because of how teams can exploit their lack of quickness at the defensive end.

Among the possible candidates for veteran minimum salaries are forwards DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Green, whose roles have been decreasing.

Perhaps the Sixers will be fortunate and one of the impact shooters listed above will end up on the 2020-21 roster. I have a feeling Rivers would be fine with that.

Tom Moore: [email protected]; @TomMoorePhilly

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