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July 02, 2019

Sources: Al Horford contract structure leaves Sixers with very little cap space

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While public number crunching has suggested the Sixers can create and/or use roughly $7.7 million in cap space to fill out the rest of their roster, the Sixers have roughly $2.2 million in cap space with which to lure a free agent (or free agents) to their team, PhillyVoice has learned after discussions with sources familiar with their position. That accounting includes consideration for all the moves the Sixers have made in free agency to date.

The misconception in Philadelphia's allotted space is largely connected to a gap in public accounting/information regarding Al Horford's contract agreement with the Sixers. Initial reports suggested Horford was set to make $97 million with an additional $12 million in what were called "championship bonuses." Referring to these as bonuses, sources say, is not an accurate representation of what the triggers in Horford's contract are or how they impact Philadelphia's cap sheet.

The way the contract is structured, these triggers are not baked into the deal until the later years of Horford's contract. While precise details were not provided on a year-to-year basis, the upshot is that Horford's cap number this year leaves Philadelphia with less cap space than has been suggested in public discussion of their situation.

At the moment, the Sixers have $2.2 million and some change to use on free agents. That does not include their ability to sign players to veteran minimum contracts, which will presumably be used to help fill out the rest of the roster. They have already signed one player, veteran center Kyle O'Quinn, to one such deal, which PhillyVoice first reported on Monday night.

Down the road, PhillyVoice has learned Horford has two primary triggers in his contract. The first is for an NBA Finals appearance, the second is for winning a championship. What that means in practice is that Horford has an amount of money guaranteed to him, a high-end cap he can reach, and triggers in the deal that determine where he will float between those two numbers.

What this means for Philadelphia is that they are unlikely (and unable, in all likelihood) to make a play for one of the bigger free agent names left on the board, a la Toronto's Danny Green. Options who have flown off of the board for numbers in that $7-8 million range, as guard Seth Curry reportedly did on Monday, were also not under real consideration given the cap constraints the Sixers are working within.

Ultimately, that means Horford and former Miami wing Josh Richardson, in addition to re-signing Tobias Harrs, will be the team's biggest acquisitions of the free agency period, barring something unforeseen.

MORE: Live NBA free agency tracker: The latest Sixers rumors and news

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