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June 07, 2024

What they're saying: Could DeMar DeRozan sign with the Sixers?

What will the Sixers do if they strike out on the likes of Paul George and LeBron James during NBA free agency this summer?

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DeMar DeRozan 6.7.24 Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports

DeMar DeRozan turns 35 years old this summer. Could he still be the Sixers' missing piece?

With the potential to create a massive amount of cap space this summer and ownership of several first-round picks, Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey and his front office appear dead-set on adding a third star-caliber player to their All-Star duo of Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.

Two immediate questions emerge: who could that third star be, and in today's NBA, is that three-star model the proper way to assemble a championship team?

Here is some of the latest buzz on how various folks think the Sixers should approach this summer:

DeMar DeRozan as Morey's fallback option

Greg Swartz | Bleacher Report

In a story predicting the landing spots for each major projected free agent this summer, Swartz has the Sixers striking out on both Paul George and LeBron James. While many have reported that, in that case, the Sixers would take a similar approach to last summer -- accumulating role players on one-year deals in hopes of eventually adding a clear-cut star player with a clean fit  in due time -- Swartz predicts that they will go after DeMar DeRozan of the Chicago Bulls, set to become an unrestricted free agent before his age-35 season:

"If the Philadelphia 76ers strike out on signing LeBron James and Paul George this summer and can't work out a trade for Jimmy Butler or Brandon Ingram with no players to send back in return, both the Sixers and DeRozan should have mutual interest.

Signing the six-time All-Star as a third offensive option next to Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey could still leave Philly with $20 million in cap space, enough to pursue another starter or try to re-sign players such as De'Anthony Melton, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Kyle Lowry.

DeRozan averaged 24.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.1 steals and shot 48.0 percent overall this past season. His durability (74 games or more in all three years with the Bulls) is important for the Sixers given Embiid's injury history.

This may not be the first choice for either side, yet the Sixers can still get an All-Star-caliber wing and DeRozan can get one last big payday by joining forces this summer." [Bleacher Report]

Swartz predicts DeRozan signing a three-year deal worth $100 million, with the third year being a team option. While having the team option on the back-end of the deal would be a team-friendly development, DeRozan's shaky offensive fit in Philadelphia -- particularly alongside Embiid, who often occupies similar areas on the floor -- make me skeptical that Morey and co. would be willing to spend this much money on an aging player with limited ability from beyond the arc.

Could Joel Embiid sign a contract extension this summer?

Keith Pompey | The Philadelphia Inquirer

Embiid will be eligible this July for a contract extension that could cement his status as a potential Sixers lifer. Sixers beat writer Keith Pompey outlines the potential terms for a deal for the former NBA MVP:

"The Sixers will be able to negotiate a three-year extension worth $193.5 million in addition to the $106.6 million he’s set to make over the next two seasons. Embiid will have a player option for $59 million for the 2026-27 season without the extension.

Critics could argue his extensive injury history might make a new extension cost prohibitive. Embiid would make $59.7 million (2026-27), $64.5 million (2027-28), and $69.3 million (2028-29) during the three years of a new extension. If he waits until next summer, he would be eligible for a fourth year." [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

To some, extending Embiid now may seem premature and reckless. That is somewhat understandable: his injury history is infamous in its length and severity, he has two solidified years left on his deal (before a player option in three years) and has shown no appetite for a move elsewhere and turned 30 in March. And the potential salaries Pompey outlines are massive.

However, if Embiid is willing to sit at the negotiating table this summer, it is hard not to be intrigued by the idea of amassing five years of team control over a perennial MVP candidate. For all of Embiid's flaws, he is a generational talent. It is no small feat to have someone with his abilities under contract for a half-decade, especially in today's NBA that is filled with trade demands, short-term contracts and superstar movement.

Should the Sixers draft Purdue center Zach Edey?

Paul Hudrick | Liberty Ballers

The Sixers own the No. 16 overall pick in this month's NBA Draft, and the vast majority of projections have them selecting a guard or a wing who can contribute with three-point shooting and/or defense should they hold onto the selection. But my friend Paul Hudrick of Liberty Ballers outlined an unorthodox idea: using the pick on Zach Edey, the 7-foot-4, 300-pound center who won two National Player of the Year trophies during his time at Purdue. Edey is expected to be drafted in the first round later this month.

Hudrick writes:

"There are Sixers connections here. Nick Nurse was the head coach of Team Canada and had glowing reviews for Edey, who was only 18 while scrimmaging with the national team. Daryl Morey is familiar with giant big men, having overlapped with Yao Ming for over five years in Houston.

But does Edey make sense for the Sixers? It’s interesting. The Sixers got crushed on the offensive glass and the Knicks were able to exploit Paul Reed at the rim in the playoffs. Neither of those things would happen with Edey. Plus, he’d theoretically be another scoring option. His lack of switchability is a pretty big red flag though. In a rematch, Jalen Brunson would likely put Edey in every action he could. If the Sixers took Edey, a more mobile center — like Reed — would have to be in the fold." [Liberty Ballers]

The idea is quite fascinating. But regardless of how one believes Edey's collegiate dominance will translate to the pros, using a near-lottery pick on a center with Embiid already in place is not something I can quite buy, particularly because the Sixers are going to need to be extremely active in the market for guard and wing contributors. The only players of that kind who are surefire bets to return next season are Maxey and Ricky Council IV. If the Sixers want to draft a center in the second round -- they own the No. 41 overall pick -- then so be it. But in the first round, a guard or wing should be the play if they keep the pick.

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