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June 26, 2017

Analyzing the Sixers roster situation heading into free agency

As we wrote at the end of last week, the Sixers drafted six players but didn’t actually draft six players. It seems like two of the team’s second-round picks will be headed to the Clippers and Milwaukee respectively, as they weren’t at the introductory press conference on Friday.

Sitting on the stage with Bryan Colangelo were Markelle Fultz, Anzejs Pasecniks, Jonah Bolden, Mathias Lessort. Of those four players, only Fultz is likely to be part of the Sixers roster this season.

“There has been some movement and discussion about the draft situation and draft rights, so that’s moved to further discussion at a later date,” Colangelo said. “We’ll get back to you when the dust settles on all of that.”

We’re going to talk about what Colangelo could and should do in free agency the rest of this week, but before that happens, we need to take a look at the Sixers roster and where it stands after the draft.

The “Something other than FEDS”

1. Joel Embiid
2. Ben Simmons
3. Markelle Fultz
4. Dario Saric
5. Robert Covington

Analysis: My guess is Covington gets an extension, so the former undrafted swingman cracks the core group of recent first-round picks. Unless Saric or Covington are somehow traded in a bigger deal, this is the Sixers young core.

The next tier

6. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot
7. Richaun Holmes
8. T.J. McConnell

Analysis: All young players still on rookie contracts who have shown varying degrees of promise. I was pleasantly surprised to hear “Boston couldn’t even get Richaun Holmes?” buzz after the Fultz trade, which shows that people are taking notice of Holmes’ development into a starting-caliber center.

On paper, the Fultz pick might hurt McConnell’s playing time the most. T.J. has definitely proven to be an NBA-caliber point guard, but it will be interesting to see how he’s handled with two primary ball-handlers now ahead of him on the Sixers depth chart.

The tier after the next tier

9. Nik Stauskas
10. Justin Anderson

Analysis: Big year for both of these wings, who will have much more competition for playing time than they previously did. Stauskas’ three-point shooting and Anderson’s defense could fit with both Simmons and Fultz, but free agency and injured players becoming healthy means there are fewer minutes to go around.

The big question mark

11. Jahlil Okafor

Analysis: Yes, believe it or not, Jah is still on the Sixers roster. And after the season, Colangelo talked about a potential Okafor trade.

“At the end of the day, we will continue to observe and monitor him and grow him and try to get him where he needs to be,” Colangelo said. “If a deal comes along that makes sense for both of us, then we'll go ahead and make the deal.”

The question is when any deal would make more sense than keeping Okafor around. It has been written time and again that Sixers have a logjam at center, but that really shouldn’t really be the case this upcoming season. Based on everything we have seen, Joel Embiid is the Sixers starting center and Richaun Holmes should get all of the backup minutes.

The vets

12. Jerryd Bayless
13. Gerald Henderson

Analysis: Bayless’ injury woes last season were unfortunate, but I still think that signing him to a three-year deal was an unnecessary decision. At the end of what was a lost season for Bayless, Colangelo talked about bringing him back into the on-court fold.

“He’s like a free-agent signing that’s already happened and we’re just waiting for him to get healthy and it looks like that’s well on its way,” he said.

Henderson is another swing guy on the Sixers roster, and he’s someone who serves a role (veteran wing/rabble-rouser). That said, the final year on his deal has only $1 million guaranteed if the Sixers decline his option for this season by the deadline on Friday. The question isn’t really Henderson’s on-court ability, but whether there’s role on the team for him. Well, especially because…

The wild card

14. Furkan Korkmaz

Analysis: Due to buyout concerns, my guess would’ve been that Korkmaz stayed in Europe for one more season. It’s not official yet, but it seems like the No. 26 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft could be moving to the Delaware Valley soon.

“That’s appearing more and more likely based on our own desires as much as his,” Colangelo said the other night. We think it would be a good time for him to come, but we’re working on that still.”

Final analysis

I’m going to assume Shawn Long, Alex Poythress, Sergio Rodriguez, and Tiago Splitter aren’t brought back. If you’re doing the math, that leaves one open roster spot heading into free agency for the Sixers if they decide to bring everyone else back and Korkmaz comes over.

Of those players, you would imagine Henderson and Okafor (and of course, Korkmaz if something falls through) are the most likely to be off the roster by opening night next season. We’ll start to get our answers by the end of this week.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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