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NBA Free Agency Mailbag: Should Sixers fans remain optimistic if no big deals are made? How long will the Ben Simmons saga drag on?

Answering all of your Sixers questions with NBA teams on the brink of signing players. Dwight Howard, Danny Green and others are set to become free agents.

Sixers guard Ben Simmons and center Dwight Howard on the bench late in the third quarter against the Washington Wizards in Game 4 of their first round NBA playoff series in Washington D.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021.
Sixers guard Ben Simmons and center Dwight Howard on the bench late in the third quarter against the Washington Wizards in Game 4 of their first round NBA playoff series in Washington D.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

This is the 76ers’ mailbag... free-agency edition. Here are the answers to a few Sixers-related questions with free agency beginning at 6 p.m. Monday:

Question: If the 76ers make no significant moves, what are the expectations for next season? Why should fans be optimistic that they can make a title run? — @GorelickRich

Answer: Great question. Fans should NOT be optimistic that the Sixers can make a title run next season unless they do make significant moves. Think about it. This team, as it was constructed, lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Yes, I know that Danny Green suffered a series-ending injury in Game 3 of the seven-game series. But the Hawks were without De’Andre Hunter, their best perimeter defender. Even though the Sixers had the conference’s best regular-season record, they would have lost to the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks in the conference finals.

The Sixers would be no better than the conference’s third-best team behind the Nets and Bucks with this current roster.

Q: How will the Sixers address the backup center position behind Joel Embiid? Will the Sixers try to bring back Dwight Howard or let one of the young talents play that role this season? — @Rcrd0_

A: I would look into bringing back Howard if it’s another minimum-salary deal. The Sixers benefited from his presence this season. I would also give second-round pick Charles Bassey a look. However, Tony Bradley would be on my free agent wish list. Yes, I know the Sixers traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder to acquire George Hill in a three-team deal. But after Bradley left, the Sixers didn’t have anyone capable of stepping into the starting role and being productive on nights Embiid was sidelined. Bradley, who is an unrestricted free agent, would be a great fit.

Q: Realistically, how long do we think this Ben Simmons crap gets drawn out? Are there REALLY any legit offers out there? — @JoeBucciSB52

A: I think it will get drawn out until right before training camp or the preseason. By that time, potential trade partners will have more of a sense of urgency to acquire Simmons closer to the start of the season. They’ll be more willing to part ways with valued assets.

That would also enable Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey to survey the league’s balance of power after the free-agency period. He would have a better idea of what assets the Sixers would need in return to compete for an NBA title.

Right now, teams want to get Simmons on a bargain-basement deal while the Sixers are asking for penthouse prices.

Q: If the Sixers are 100% set on trading Ben Simmons, how do they balance waiting for Dame Lillard or Bradley Beal versus making a trade for a package of very good players? — @cargo882

A: Another great question. I think that had a lot to do with the Sixers’ high trade demands during the draft. It seemed like they felt like they better get the farm from a team if they were going to pass up on possibly acquiring Lillard or Beal. Let’s face it, Kyle Lowry, Lillard, and Beal are by far the best potential options out there. Lowry will most likely go to the Miami Heat in a sign-and-trade. So there’s really nothing out there in regards to the All-Star talent the Sixers want in return. So I think they’ll be fine waiting to see what happens with Lillard and Beal before making a trade.

Q: Could the Sixers consider Ben Simmons in a different role if they are stuck with him? Maybe a different position on the court or no minutes late in games? — @SteveCucchiRx

A: Thanks for the question, Steve. I could see him as a point forward like the Golden State Warriors have with Draymond Green. The only thing is Tobias Harris is more productive playing power forward than small forward. So they would have to take that into consideration. I think it would be hard to justify benching a max-salary player late in games. I know why you’re asking. It’s a valid question after the playoffs. I just think they would be better off moving Simmons instead of benching him at the end of games.