5 free agents 76ers should target after throwing continuity out the window

The Philadelphia 76ers have roughly $60 million in cap space and two players under guaranteed contracts for next season. Here are a few free agents worth targeting.
Daryl Morey, Philadelphia 76ers
Daryl Morey, Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

The Philadelphia 76ers' season once again ended in disappointment. Despite a vast slate of valid excuses, it's hard not to be thoroughly underwhelmed by another first-round exit. The Sixers were a better team than the New York Knicks on paper. A few unlucky bounces and atypically poor efforts tipped the scales in New York's favor, and had the Sixers been healthy all season, that matchup never would have occurred in the first round. There is optimism for the future, but it's unclear how much longer that can sustain the current version of this Sixers team.

In fact, we haven't really had a consistent "current version" of the Sixers for more than a year or two during the Joel Embiid era. The offseason has brought constant change. Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and James Harden have all cycled through as Embiid's primary co-star. There appears to be some level of stability at the heart of the roster now — Embiid and Tyrese Maxey are locked in — but the next 16 roster spots are a complete unknown.

Literally, Embiid and Maxey are the only Sixers under a guaranteed contract for next season. At his exit interview, Sixers president Daryl Morey cited Paul Reed and Ricky Council IV as players who will be back. Reed's contract for next season is non-guaranteed. Council recently inked a four-year rookie deal after starting on a two-way contract. Even so, the Sixers are in a difficult position to establish the continuity that has eluded the franchise for the last decade.

Embiid has expressed a desire to not rock the boat, but Morey is always focused on adding the best talent possible — not keeping a roster in perfect harmony. With north of $50 million in cap space and a whole roster of free agents, it's hard to imagine more than a few of last year's role players returning. Tobias Harris is all but gone, Kelly Oubre probably priced himself out of a return, Nic Batum is expected to retire. The Sixers are going to look different.

That said, here are a few free agents worth looking into.

5. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would perfectly complement 76ers' stars

The reigning champs are on the ropes in their second-round series against the Minnesota Timberwolves. At their current rate, offseason change could be on the horizon for the Denver Nuggets. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has a $15.1 million player option that he should comfortably decline. In today's NBA, elite 3-and-D wings are always coveted. KCP has proven his mettle at the highest level of competition. He's going to have a long line of offseason suitors outside Denver.

Morey made a point to emphasize postseason-caliber wings as an offseason need. KCP fits the bill, obviously. He averaged 10.1 points and 2.4 assists on .460/.404/.894 splits this season, all while mounting his All-Defense candidacy on the other end. Caldwell-Pope is one of the best spot-up snipers in the NBA — a dynamic movement shooter who is comfortable working out of two-man actions and attacking downhill when the defense closes out errantly.

He would get a steady stream of open looks playing off of Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. Not every elite shooter flourishes in Embiid's orbit, as Buddy Hield proved in 2024. But, generally speaking, Embiid is at his best with volume shooters around him. Embiid's processing speed improved immensely last season. He's reading double teams and rifling cross-court passes to the open man. He would benefit from KCP's gravity and feel for cutting into open space.

KCP's defense would be the real selling point, honestly. The Sixers got a lot of mileage out of Kelly Oubre's on-ball defense in the playoffs, but he's destined for a new home. Batum was Philly's next-best option at the point of attack, and he's probably gone too. KCP can offer strong on-ball resistance against the opposition's best player.

4. Malik Monk can elevate 76ers' second unit

Once again, the Sixers were completely unable to survive in the non-Embiid minutes in the playoffs. The second unit can always use an upgrade. This was the deepest team of the Embiid era, but a stark lack of consistent offense beyond the star duo — especially with Hield struggling — kept Philadelphia at bay when it mattered most.

Malik Monk was robbed (?) of Sixth Man of the Year after his best campaign to date. Now it feels like he's destined for a breakup with the Sacramento Kings, who can't afford to pay him his worth. Monk averaged 15.4 points and 5.1 assists on .443/.350/.829 splits for Sacramento, elevating his playmaking profile without losing his potency as a scorer.

The Sixers would benefit from another high-level scoring guard next to or behind Tyrese Maxey. Monk can share the playmaking burden, work out of two-man actions with Embiid, and give the Sixers another source of reliable shot creation on the perimeter. He has oscillated between different roles in his career, both creating out of isolations and flying into movement 3s off-ball. Monk would be able to adjust his approach to the personnel around him, complementing Philly's stars or carrying the second unit.

Defense isn't a strong suit and there's only so much value in skinny 6-foot-3 guards once the postseason arrives, but Monk is a truly dynamic offensive weapon. The Sixers would benefit from another three-level scorer who can manipulate the defense and parlay his scoring gravity into open shots for teammates.

3. Immanuel Quickley is an RFA the 76ers should take a run at

Immanuel Quickly enters restricted free agency for the Toronto Raptors, who acquired him as part of the OG Anunoby trade with New York. This feels like a simple open-and-shut case. The Raptors can't afford to let Quickley walk and are blessed with the ability to match any offer sheet from another franchise. Toronto controls its own destiny here.

That said, the Sixers have enough cap space to throw the max at Quickley and at least make life uncomfortable for Toronto. Maybe they should. The Sixers won't maintain continuity, but there's something to be said for chemistry. Quickley was teammates with Tyrese Maxey at Kentucky. They're best friends — thick-as-thieves UK brethren who wouldn't need much time to adjust to playing with one another.

It's a great backcourt fit, too. Quickley is another twitchy downhill scorer who is equally comfortable running into spot-up 3s and attacking off the catch. He won't match Maxey's playmaking at this point, but Quickley would thrive as an off-ball weapon feasting on rotating defenses. The combined speed of Maxey and Quickley would put a lot of stress on opponents. It also unlocks a potential avenue to productivity in the non-Embiid minutes: run, run, then run some more. If the Sixers can elegantly navigate different tempos based on their personnel, Nick Nurse has a chance to get creative.

Quickley is quietly an excellent perimeter defender, too. Maxey is still a relative weakness on that end. With a wiry strength to fight over screens and suffocate the point of attack, Quickley can take shut-down duties in the Sixers' backcourt. The versatility of his skill set and his two-way impact should appeal to Philadelphia, who need to at least consider a run at the Raptors' prized track star.

2. OG Anunoby would give the Sixers an elite defensive wing

Speaking of making division rivals uncomfortable, the Sixers have the ability to really make the New York Knicks sweat. OG Anunoby's Bird Rights belong to New York — he won't leave unless the Knicks refuse to match another team's offer sheet — but the Sixers can run up the price to see if New York balks.

It's hard to imagine the Knicks letting such a major midseason acquisition walk. The price of landing Anunoby was high, with Quickley's absence hanging over the Knicks throughout the second half of the campaign. That said, if the Sixers want to improve their supporting cast while undermining a key East rival, Anunoby profiles as an ideal target.

The fit is obvious. Anunoby is a perennial All-Defense candidate on the wing, built like a tank at 6-foot-7 and 232 pounds. He can handle the toughest assignments across the positional spectrum, legitimately comfortable switching 1-4 in almost every matchup. Anunoby can stifle the point of attack, create events with his quick hands (1.7 steals), and he's a contributor on the other end.

This season, Anunoby averaged 14.7 points and 4.2 rebounds on .489/.382/.753 splits. He's not a great playmaker for others, but as a play-finisher, Anunoby tends to flourish. He's a bully-ball face-up scorer, an active cutter, and a prolific spot-up shooter. Embiid and Maxey will occupy the top of the opposing scouting report. Anunoby can choose his spots behind the 3-point line, fill the lane, and mismatch hunt with his strength. He's everything the Sixers wish Tobias Harris was.

1. We are obligated to mention Paul George as a 76ers target

We know the Sixers are interested in Paul George if he can't agree to terms with the Los Angeles Clippers. It's fair to wonder if Philadelphia should throw the max in George's direction — he's 34 years old with several postseason underperformances on his resumé — but it's a one-way ticket to the wing star-power Morey covets.

George would obviously benefit the Sixers. The extent of those benefits in unclear right now, but George averaged 22.6 points and 3.5 assists on .471/.413/.907 splits this season. Those are impressive numbers, especially with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard both absorbing oxygen around him. George would profile as the No. 3 option in Philadelphia, a souped-up 3-and-D wing that can create his own looks and carry the non-Embiid and/or non-Maxey minutes.

He wouldn't exactly be ducking postseason ridicule in Philadelphia. The Sixers are under immense pressure to deliver while Embiid's prime window remains open, and a three or four-year contract for George carries significant downside risk. The Sixers would be putting a firm deadline on their contending status, not to mention limiting Morey's flexibility to add on the margins.

All that said, Paul George remains very good at basketball — a nine-time All-Star and bonafide top-30 player. If the Clippers aren't comfortable committing the resources necessary to retain George, the Sixers make sense as a clear path to title contention in a much weaker conference. There's a world in which George pushes Philadelphia past New York, Milwaukee, and maybe even Boston. Even if it's an outside chance, Morey is known for calculated gambles and risky swings on high-level talent.

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