Though there are still over three months until NBA free agency begins, that doesn’t mean that analysts and fans alike can’t have some fun fantasizing about who their team might reel in this summer.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 19, 2021
According to Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz, one of the top priorities for the Philadelphia 76ers this summer should be to target Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo. The 28-year-old has only played in four games with the Heat and has missed the last six contests with a lingering knee injury.
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The bothersome knee ailment is the latest in what has been a long list of injuries for the former number two overall pick, and since spending his first three seasons of his career with the Orlando Magic from 2013 through 2016, Oladipo has bounced around the league quite a bit. Despite being an injury-risk to any new team he joins, Swartz sees Oladipo as a player worth the gamble, especially given that he would likely come at a discount price and contract length at this point in his career.
Oladipo is after all, still on the right side of 30 – he’ll be 29 in a couple of weeks – and he is only two seasons removed from being an all-star with the Indiana Pacers. Unfortunately, that campaign came to an abrupt halt when he suffered a season-ending injury in January 2019.
It seems that the Heat may be ready to move on from the former Indiana Hoosier too, as they’ve got some younger, healthier options to help them through the rest of this spring and beyond. Swartz’ call for the Sixers to go after Oladipo may make even more sense if they’re unable to retain the services of the next player mentioned on the team’s free-agency “big board.”
Bringing Back Danny Green ‘Extremely Important’ for Title Dreams
Much of the credit for the success of the 76ers this season has to obviously go to MVP candidate Joel Embiid, his sidekick and defensive menace Ben Simmons, and head coach Doc Rivers. One of the more unheralded contributors all season long though has been Danny Green.
The sharpshooter has been as consistent and reliant as any Philly player this year, playing in all but one of the team’s 57 games thus far. Not only has Green provided terrific shooting and defense among other attributes, but the charitable 33-year-old veteran is one of the fan favorites as well.
According to Spotrac, Green will be one of the Sixers’ three unrestricted free agents headed into this offseason, along with Mike Scott and Dwight Howard. Though Green would most likely cost the organization the most to bring back – he is making about $15 million this season – Swartz says retaining his services is “extremely important to the Sixers championship hopes.”
Despite – as the writer notes – a new deal for Green pushing the Sixers into the luxury tax, the player’s 42.1% success rate on catch-and-shoot threes and his ability to defend multiple positions would be hard to replace.
Who Should Be Joel Embiid’s New Backup?
Sixers fans should feel lucky to have one of the most dominant centers, let alone players, in the entire NBA in Embiid, but should also realize by now that he may not always be available. With the injury worries surrounding Embiid seemingly never-ending, having a quality backup in stow is vital for the future.
Howard has mostly done well this season, but as mentioned earlier, he hits free agency this summer and if his track record is any indication, he could very well bolt to another destination. Swartz thinks Gorgui Dieng might be a nice fit in Philly, if Howard does indeed leave.
After playing three seasons for Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals in college, Dieng was selected 21st overall in the 2013 NBA Draft and played his first six-plus seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He spent parts of the last two seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, before being waived by the team in late March and subsequently picked up by the San Antonio Spurs.
Like Howard, Dieng provides solid interior defense and above-average shot-blocking, but unlike Howard, the Senegal native would add some outside shooting to the roster. Though he rarely attempted three-pointers in his early days in Minnesota, Dieng has now developed a decent stroke to the tune of 140 made threes in 392 attempts – good for 35.7% – in his 542 career games.
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