With De’Anthony Melton in town via a splatter trade on draft night, the Sixers’ offseason began. But many people wonder if Melton’s arrival has put a fork in Philadelphia’s pursuit of Miami Heat forward PJ Tucker, who the Sixers have been connected to by multiple reports.
Keith Pompey reported last week that “Multiple sources intend the Sixers to offer [Tucker] a three-year, $30 million contract. Time will tell what will happen. But a source added there was a mutual interest between Tucker, 37, and the Sixers.
Looking at an updated cover sheet, per Spotrac, the Sixers have 13 players under contract. If James Harden opts in sometime before Wednesday night (the deadline for him to pick up his $47.4 million player option), they’ll hover around $151.7 million in total salary for the next season, engaged for 13 players. There’s not a lot of wiggle room.
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— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 26, 2022
But according to a recent update from Marc Stein via substack, the Sixers are not yet out of the running to acquire stretch four:
“Many rival teams, meanwhile, are saying with even more conviction now than they did last week – when I first reported on Wednesday – that they expect PJ Tucker lands in Philadelphia on a three-year, $30 million deal in free agency.If Pat Riley’s Heat can find a way to re-sign Tucker, they’re sure to surprise some people.So it seems more and more safer to enroll at least one Harden/Tucker reunion in a Sixers offseason…”
So if we’re leaning on Harden for his option, as B/R’s Jake Fischer (and now many others, including Stein in the same report) have hinted, there are still a few roadblocks left.
If the Sixers find a new home without taking back their salary in exchange for a few Furkan Korkmaz ($5 million) and Matisse Thybulle ($4.39 million), they could potentially thread a very fine needle.
They should stay under the luxury tax apron, which should land around $155.7 million in order to open a mid-level non-taxpayer exception to make this offer possible for Tucker. The NTMLE numbers come in at about $10.3 million for 2023, which is just that $30 million over three years that we’ve heard about. Tucker, 37, would be 40 at the end of this hypothetical frame. Shams Charania first reported that Tucker planned to hit unrestricted free agency.
If the Sixers can keep the costs low, they can also find a $4 million semi-annual exception. However, if they can’t stay under the apron, they would have to work with an expected lower taxpayer MLE of $6.3 million, and possibly a salaried Vet floor player of around $2.5 million. of dollars.
But as Daryl Morey said of trade pick no. 23 “we are trying to win now. We are looking for players who can contribute. Then, at another point in his media availability, he said “we might need another wing”. So those two comments do little to dispel the idea that they would be intrigued by the addition of Tucker despite his age, if the price was right.
Our Paul Hudrick reported that the Sixers won’t just throw away good players. Going out of Korkmaz and Thybulle to make room seems to go back to this.
— Tom Moore (@TomMoorePhilly) June 24, 2022
Fischer noted that Philadelphia values Thybulle as the two-time All-Defensive Second Team member that he is. And Kyle Neubeck from PhillyVoice also noted that the team still appreciates Matisse, despite his struggles in the playoffs.
One can wring one’s mind trying to figure out if the team would be better off with Tucker, and maybe several vet minutes. salaries, while facing a dreaded hard ceiling over scenarios holding back Thybulle, Korkmaz, a vet min. salary, a $6 million MLE and maybe a little uncapped flexibility during the season.
But maybe they could get a future asset in exchange that didn’t mark them on the 2023 cap sheet? We heard rumors of interest around the NBA for Thybulle on draft night.
The #Sixers are trying to acquire Eric Gordon and using Matisse Thybulle as an asset, even trying to bring in a third team, according to multiple league sources. The Portland Trail Blazers are ready to make a straight deal for Thybulle, sources say.
—Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) June 23, 2022
If Harden doesn’t step down and they just don’t want to give away Thybulle and Korkmaz, the team could explore bigger deals involving Tobias Harris ($38 million) who was also reportedly bought.
There are other contracts, as Forbes Sports’ Bryan Toporek noted, like Gordon Hayward, Kevin Love, that could work.
The Sixers will likely only have the mid-level taxpayer exception in free agency.
But if they spare enough room under the apron for the non-taxpaying MLE, I’ve written about six guys that might be interesting in this price range (via @ForbesSports): https://t.co/OxmxGYdvLY
—Bryan Toporek (@btoporek) June 26, 2022
The team was also recently connected to Eric Gordon, if they could entice the Rockets to take Harris to mentor their young core.
Many ways it can shake. Few of the rumors we hear seem imminent. But the idea of a Harden-Tucker reunion in Philadelphia certainly has the most smoke around it, despite the De’Anthony Melton acquisition making it harder to sway.