How many times have you seen some version of the following statement “… with the option for the Philadelphia 76ers to make even more roster moves” so far this offseason? A few times? A dozen? Even more?
Theoretically, that statement is correct; the Sixers aren’t hard-capped, they still have a few moveable draft picks in their war chest, and they have more than a few players under contract who may garner the fancy of many of the NBA’s other franchises.
the problem The Sixers already have more players under contract than they have available roster spots.
Yes, your read that correctly; After entering the summer with just three open roster spots, the Sixers have replaced DeAndre Jordan, Paul Millsap, and Myles Powell – who was on a two-way contract at the time – with five new players, PJ Tucker, Danuel House, Trevelin Queen , Michael Foster Jr., and Julian Champagnie, with the latter two on an Exhibit 10 and two-way contract respectively. That leaves the Sixers with 17 players competing for 15 spots, plus two more on two-way contracts.
Now granted, it could be worse; with seven of the team’s 17 players signed to only partially-guaranteed contracts – with three of them fully unguaranteed – all the Sixers have to do is waive two of their players, and they will be totally cap compliant heading into the season.
Unfortunately, other than Michael Forster Jr., who is signed to a contract explicitly designed to secure his G-League rights, there isn’t an obvious player who should be released. Tyrese Maxey and Jaden Springer are untouchable, as should be Paul Reed and Isaiah Joe, and that just leaves Trevelin Queen, who was up and down in the Summer League but was overall encouraging, and Charles Bassey, who was up and down in the Summer League but was overall discourageous
Can the Sixers say goodbye to Bassey, their 16th best player, and enter into the season with just Tucker and Reed as backups to Joel Embiid? Or should they instead risk losing Queen to another team in the hopes that they could sign him to a two-way contract over Champagnie?
Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem: The Philadelphia 76ers should trade Furkan Korkmaz to the Indiana Pacers.
The Indiana Pacers can help fix the Philadelphia 76ers’ roster log jam.
When the Indiana Pacers put in an offer sheet on Phoenix Sun’s restricted free agent DeAndre Ayton, they took a pretty big swing and a seriously talented on-court upgrade. Sure, the team had to stretch and waive four players, Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan, Duane Washington Jr., and our old pal Nik Stauskas to free up a max contract spot, but landing Ayton was a much bigger deal than any the team could pull off in free agency, especially in the early-to-middle stages of a rebuild around Tyrese Haliburton.
And yet, when the Suns matched the money for Ayton, reportedly three minutes after the sheet was offered, the Pacers found themselves with $30-plus million in cap space and only 14 players under contract, according to Spotrac. While it shouldn’t be too hard to fill out that roster spot, be it with a player from their 2021-22 team like Lance Stevenson or Justin Anderson or a young free agent like Jarrett Culver or Frank Jackson, why not try to pursue a performer they have had an interest in in the past; a player who could potentially even start for the team this fall if need be?
Why not trade for Furkan Korkmaz?
You see, according to Keith Pompey, the Pacers called the Philadelphia 76ers about Korkmaz last season around the trade deadline, but Daryl Morey ultimately decided to hold onto him heading into the playoffs. At the time, the decision made sense but now, with PJ Tucker, Danuel House, Matisse Thybulle, Trevelin Queen, Isaiah Joe, and Jaden Springer all likely vying for playing time on the wings, Korkmaz is clearly expendable.
If the Pacers still like Korkmaz, why not make a deal, even if Philly doesn’t bring anything back in value but some cap considerations?
Now granted, to some, trading away a player for cash is a mortal basketball sin worthy of bad juju; trading Richaun Holmes for cash backfired on the Sixers in a major way, and one would assume the New Orleans Pelicans would probably rather have Charles Bassey than $2 million right about now, but in a way, salary space in and of itself is an asset and removing $5 million from his books might be a worthy exchange in the eyes of Daryl Morey.
Considering the Pacers can simply fold Korkmaz into their salary cap without issue, that seems easy enough to me.
Could the Philadelphia 76ers attempt to pull off something more complicated, say, a three-team deal that lands both Furkan Korkmaz and Charles Bassey in Indiana, and brings back a big developmental center who is a little closer to on-court action behind Joel Embiid and Paul Reed, like, say, Udoka Azubuike from the Utah Jazz? Maybe instead, Daryl Morey has an eye for Indiana Pacers center Goga Bitadze and would be willing to flip Korkmaz and Bassey for the offensively talented young 6-foot-11er. Either way, shipping the “Turkish Delight” to the Hoosier State for a proper run in an expanded role feels like a win-win for all parties involved.