Sixers offseason outlook: Assessing the reserves and their likelihood to return
Mike Scott, Zhaire Smith and Norvel Pelle are under contract, but whether they return next season remains to be seen.
If the 76ers are going to reshape their roster, they will have to have several players making low salaries to counter the four who will be paid $27 million or more. The Sixers could have $147 million tied up in 11 players next season.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, nobody knows if this past season’s salary cap ($109 million) and luxury tax threshold ($132.6 million) will stay the same or even drop next year.
Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Al Horford will tie up most of the Sixers’ cap. So the Sixers, and all teams, will have to have several players near the end of the roster who can produce to offset their higher-paid players.
Here is a look at some of the Sixers' deep reserves and whether they may fit in. (All salary figures are courtesy of Hoopshype.com.)
Mike Scott: When Scott was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in the Tobias Harris trade in February of 2019, he became a key rotation player. That earned Scott a two-year, $9.8 million deal in July of 2019.
As last season went on, his playing time waned, and Scott only played a total of 20 minutes in the Sixers’ four playoff losses to the Boston Celtics.
Now he has one year and $5 million left on his contract. Normally, that would not be a difficult contract to move, but in these pandemic times, who knows?
Scott, 32, would bring toughness to any team. He has been a solid three-point shooter. This season he shot 36.9% from distance, which was his lowest since the 2016-17 season, but still above the league average (35.8%).
If Scott isn’t going to have a bigger role than he did later in the season, it would make sense to attempt to trade him. It all depends on who the Sixers acquire, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Scott isn’t on the team next season.
Kyle O’Quinn: After signing with the Sixers as a free agent last offseason, there were higher expectations for O’Quinn. Instead, he appeared in just 29 regular-season games and played in just one playoff contest.
Maybe Doc Rivers might see a need for O’Quinn, who is an excellent passer from the high post, with the ability to hit an occasional three. (He was 7 for 27 from three-point range).
At 30, he likely will look for a team where he can play more off the bench. He earned $2.17 million last year. Nobody should discount him coming back, but it shouldn’t be expected either.
Norvel Pelle: He was among the pleasant surprises, beginning this past season as a two-way player and then converting to a standard playoff contract in February. He will earn $1.5 million next season. According to Hoopshype.com, the contract becomes guaranteed if he is not waived by October 22.
Pelle, 27, is raw offensively, but showed signs as a defensive presence.
O’Quinn actually lost playing time due to Pelle’s development. Pelle averaged 1.3 blocked shots in 24 games. Going a step forward, he averaged 4.8 blocks per 36 minutes. Depending if Horford is traded, Pelle would be even more valuable for the Sixers. He could also be used in a trade package, for a team looking for a shot-blocking reserve center.
Zhaire Smith: This is a player whose name will be mentioned in many trade rumors. In October of 2019, the Sixers exercised the third-year option for this coming season on Smith, worth $3.2 million. Smith would be a perfect change-of-scenery candidate, but in two seasons, he has done little on the NBA level.
An injury-plagued rookie season limited him to six games. This season he appeared in just seven games, spending most of his time in the G League.
The 6-foot-3 shooting guard is known for his defense, but he isn’t considered a perimeter threat, even though he showed improvement. In 28 G League games this season, he averaged 13.5 points and shot 37.6% from three-point range.
Smith, who played just one season at Texas Tech, turned 21 in June. He came to the Sixers on a draft-night trade with Phoenix in 2018 after the Suns selected him 16th overall.