The 76ers will let forward Thaddeus Young, a restricted free agent, test his value on the open market.

The NBA allowed team executives and coaches to begin communicating with players - and free agents - on Monday morning. The league's abbreviated free-agency period does not officially start until Friday, when free agents and teams can come to oral or written agreements.

According to, the Denver Nuggets spoke with Young on Monday and expect to continue the conversation this week. The Nuggets were the first of what is expected to be a number of teams reaching out to Young.

Internally, the Sixers have pegged Young as their top priority during the free agency period. But their strategy will be to match - assuming Young is not offered a contract too far above market value - another team's offer sheet instead of negotiating the deal directly with Young, according to a source with knowledge of the team's thinking.

The value in this strategy is twofold: The Sixers can allow the market to determine Young's value, and then they can sign him to a four-year contract with 4.5 percent raises instead of signing him to a five-year contract with 7.5 percent raises.

The latter is the difference between a Bird contract (a team re-signing its own player) and a free-agent contract (another team's outside offer) under the league's next collective bargaining agreement.

The risk in the Sixers' strategy is that another team will swoop in with a monstrous offer for Young, one the Sixers would hesitate to match.

One Western Conference general manager confirmed that a number of teams would make a play for Young, 23, who averaged 12.5 points and 4.9 rebounds during his four seasons with the Sixers. Another general manager confirmed that there is interest in the 6-foot-8 forward.

The X-factor for the Sixers will be exactly how much interest - in exact dollar value - exists. One source explained that a solid contract offer to Young would be in the range of $28 million to $32 million over four years. The Sixers would match a contract in this range, multiple NBA sources confirmed.

If that contract value begins creeping near $38 million to $40 million and possibly even higher, the Sixers will have a difficult decision to make.

Young is a restricted free agent, which means any team can sign him to an offer sheet. Once Young signs another team's offer sheet, the Sixers have three days - down from a week under the league's previous collective bargaining agreement - to match the contract.

If Young does not sign an offer sheet, he will play the coming season with the Sixers for his qualifying offer of $4 million. Young then would become an unrestricted free agent.

Coming home. On Monday, a few players began returning to the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine for unofficial workouts.

Swingman Andre Iguodala, guard Jodie Meeks, and power forward Elton Brand returned to Philadelphia. They joined guards Evan Turner and Lou Williams, and forward Craig Brackins.

"Right now, it's more just pickup [games], have some fun out there, throw the ball on the court, and get up and down a little bit - for cardio," Brand told reporters about this week's unofficial workouts.

Choosing a mascot. The Sixers are allowing fans to vote on three candidates to become the team's next mascot. The options are "Big Ben," "B. Franklin Dogg," and "Phil E. Moose."

Fans may vote by going to and clicking on the "Choose Our Mascot" tab.