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July 04, 2024

5 Sixers thoughts: Mo Bamba heads to Los Angeles Clippers, Marcus Morris Sr. return in play and more

Where does the Sixers roster stand after many signings and departures?

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Bamba 7.3.24 Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers and Clippers continue to swap players, with Mo Bamba leaving Philadelphia for a greater opportunity in Los Angeles.

With the NBA offseason in full swing and the Sixers at the center of many of the most high-profile moves to date, let's zoom out for a moment and take a look at some storylines that are perhaps being overlooked right now:

Mo Bamba agrees to deal with Los Angeles Clippers

Among the many members of the 2023-24 Sixers to depart was Mo Bamba, who like Nic Batum, will spend next season with the Los Angeles Clippers. Bamba was well-liked within the organization, but was not going to receive much opportunity with the Sixers moving forward. 

Even with Paul Reed likely on his way out, the team has inked Andre Drummond to a contract for next season containing a player option for the following season, so Bamba would not have had a path to backup center minutes in Philadelphia without a significant injury. Additionally, the team used a second-round pick on center Adem Bona.

Bamba appears to be receiving a genuine chance to be the Clippers' backup center behind Ivica Zubac next season, as the team does not have another true center on the roster.

Adem Bona set to receive standard NBA deal

Bona's contract status immediately after his selection was unclear, as many second-round draft choices these days are given two-way deals to begin their careers rather than standard NBA contacts. According to a report from Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Bona is expected to receive a standard NBA deal and have a spot on the Sixers' roster at the start of the 2024-25 season.

For now, Bona figures to be the team's third-string center behind Joel Embiid and Drummond — if we are to operate under the assumption that Reed will be moved — but don't be surprised if the Sixers add a fourth center to the mix. Given Embiid's injury history, it is never out of the question.

Philly native returns?

According to a report from Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Sixers have expressed interest in a reunion with Marcus Morris Sr., who played in 37 games (seven starts) for the team last season. The team acquired Morris as part of the trade that sent James Harden to the Clippers and then sent him to the Indiana Pacers as part of the package that landed them Buddy Hield. Morris was bought out by Indiana and spent the rest of the season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Morris, who is entering his age-35 season, is a very good three-point shooter for a big — he made over 40 percent of his three-point tries in 2023-24 — though it is fair to question what else he brings to the table. Given that he will likely sign a veteran's minimum contract and the Sixers are starved for power forward play, it is not hard to see why the team would be interested. But at this stage of his career, he should be someone who is only asked to play in a pinch, not to be a fixture of head coach Nick Nurse's rotation.

A surprising team option decision

On Saturday, the Sixers declined a $2.1 million team option on guard Jeff Dowtin Jr., even though his salary would have remained non-guaranteed over the course of the summer.

It seemed like a given that Dowtin’s option would be picked up, because the team had the ability to waive him and incur no cap hit whatsoever. If the team did not waive him, it could carry him on its roster as an inexpensive end-of-bench piece of use his salary to help facilitate a trade.

My immediate reaction to the news was that the team was doing Dowtin a solid — perhaps he had interest from other NBA teams with which he could have a larger role, maybe he was considering heading overseas. But Dowtin is on the team’s Salt Lake City Summer League roster, so that appears to not have been the case.

Kelly Oubre Jr.’s next contract

It is never too early to start thinking about next offseason, and the contract Kelly Oubre Jr. signed to remain in Philadelphia is structured so that he can become a free agent for the third summer in a row following this season — should he have another impactful year.

While the Sixers were extremely limited in what they could offer Oubre using their Non-Bird rights this summer, if he opts out of his deal for 2025-26 — the player option will be worth just under $8.4 million — the Sixers will be able to make him a strong offer.

The team will have Early Bird rights on Oubre heading into free agency next season should he opt out, meaning they can pay him up to 175 percent of his 2024-25 salary. That means a potential offer for Oubre next summer could start at $13,970,250, with annual raises of five percent. The absolute most the Sixers could offer him in terms of years and dollars is four years and around $60 million.

If Oubre does build on his stellar two-way season in 2023-24 now that he is playing alongside a trio of All-Stars in Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and Paul George, the Sixers would happily extend that offer to him and cement his status as a critical part of their team for the long haul.

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