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February 03, 2017

Sixers Mailbag: Which current players will be on the roster next year?

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Another week, another mailbag full of random Sixers questions. Let’s not waste any time and get right to it…

As long as the monster that plays 28 minutes per night is healthy, it’s pretty high.

In a rare occurrence, I found Shaq’s comments on “Inside The NBA” fairly interesting. Embiid responded in his funny own way on Twitter, calling Shaq “a big goof.”

On one hand, Shaq is notorious for dissing talented young bigs. I guess you can say he was ahead of the curve, but Shaq criticized Dwight Howard for no reason years ago when he was still really good! But to be fair, he knows what it’s like to play in the NBA with a body as big as Embiid’s.

The NBA season is an absurd grind, and yeah, I do think Embiid is benefiting at least a little bit by taking nights off. Still, my guess is that even if perhaps his per-minute offensive and rim protection numbers (it’s easier to jump when you’re rested, after all) would take slight hits if he played more frequently, he’s performing at such a high level that a little regression would still be considered all-star caliber play.

It’s hard to give a definitive answer with Embiid, though. This is the NBA equivalent of the kid that graduates high school in sixth grade. If Embiid were on the floor more, who knows what else he would have figured out by now?

It’s hard to distinguish between power forward and center in today’s NBA with so many teams going small, but I’d take Draymond Green out of the Death Lineup and stick him next to Embiid. I wish Green was shooting threes a bit better this season, but man, I’m not sure anybody would even get into the paint on those two.

Yup, these are my readers.

I like this one.

Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way first: Joel Embiid (1), Ben Simmons (2), Robert Covington (3), Dario Saric (4) and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (5). Richaun Holmes (6) and T.J. McConnell (7) have been productive and are on Hinkie Specials with multiple years left, so they should definitely stick around. I would pick up Gerald Henderson’s (8) option with how well he has played.  Jerryd Bayless (9) had a wasted first season in Philly, but he does have two more seasons left on his deal. The Sixers picked up Nik Stauskas’ (10) option for 2017-18, so I’ll put him in the stay category as well.

Now let’s work backwards: Chasson Randle, Sergio Rodriguez, and Ersan Ilyasova seem like logical guys to either trade at the deadline or let walk in free agency. We’ll see what the Sixers do with Ilyasova, but my guess is that they let him go with Simmons and Saric at the 4.

That leaves Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. I can’t imagine the front office has liked much of anything they have seen from Okafor on the floor, but Bryan Colangelo’s recent comments on television made me wonder if he wants to pay Noel’s next contract. My guess (and it’s just that) is the front office ultimately won’t.

(This way if I’m wrong, I’ll be wrong on just one. There is no way in you-know-what that both players are still on the roster next year.)

Let’s be optimistic and add two guards/wings to the mix from the NBA Draft (12), one decent free agent signing in the backcourt (13). And I’ll double back and say the Sixers keep Randle (14), leaving the last spot up for grabs.

So, my final guess is 11: Embiid, Simmons, McConnell, Stauskas, Covington, TLC, Holmes, Henderson, Bayless, Saric, and Randle.

Probably not. Jimmy Butler is a Top-10 guy in the NBA right now, and he’s in trade rumors. The 27-year-old Bulls swingman both an awesome two-way player and on a great contract even with a 5 percent trade kicker. I wrote yesterday about how Boston makes more sense because the Sixers still feel a few years away from really winning big to me, but make no mistake, Colangelo (via Hinkie) has the assets to swing a deal without gutting the team’s core.

Butler would very likely weaken this year’s Sixers pick for the Bulls, but I’m not giving up both that (in a loaded draft) and the 2019 Kings pick for a 27-year-old that has a bunch of Thibs miles on him. Not with this young roster, anyway.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann