By Ray Boyd
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Sixers may not be suitors for the league’s top free agents, but they find themselves in an interesting position to be able to gain from the decisions of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and other top names on the market.
The Sixers are in position to be top suitors when NBA teams decide to make deals to unload salary from their rosters in attempt to land players like James and Anthony that warrant max contracts. The Sixers have already came up in several reports and it all seems to make sense with the plan outlined by Sam Hinkie when he arrived in Philadelphia.
Several scenarios lend themselves to the Sixers serving as the safety valve for hopeful teams.
The name that has popped up most is Jeremy Lin. The Rockets are steadfast in trying to acquire a third star to pair with James Harden and Dwight Howard. Anthony visited with the Rockets last week.
Lin is due to count for $8.4 million on the cap next season and the Rockets could use that money to sweeten a deal for Anthony. Lin has not asserted himself as the team’s main option at the point as Patrick Beverly took over the starting duties from Lin last season.
The Rockets have also expressed interest in going after Texas-native, Chris Bosh and appear poised to try to pry him away from Miami with a max deal.
In either scenario, they will have to unload Lin’s contract and the Sixers have the cap structure to take Lin. Since any deal would be a clear favor for Houston, the Sixers will be in a prime power position. They will more than likely demand multiple assets including a future first round pick in exchange for taking on Lin’s expiring deal.
With Hinkie’s creativity as a trade negotiator, the Sixers could also find a way to flip Lin at the trade deadline in a deal to another team in need of point guard services, while taking on additional assets in return.
RELATED: NBA Free Agency Tracker
Similar scenarios could play out if one of the prime free agents decide to join forces with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. The team has expressed an interest to surround Bryant with adequate talent as he pursues his sixth NBA title.
The Lakers met with Anthony last week and have reportedly spoken with James’ agent. The Lakers would undoubtedly be interested in moving Steve Nash who has an expiring contract worth $9.7 million for next season.
The Sixers could once again demand assets from the Lakers in exchange for taking Nash off their hands. The veteran point guard and two-time NBA MVP (2005-2006), could also be valuable for what he would bring to the Sixers in terms of mentoring.
Michael Carter-Williams could stand to learn a thing or two from Nash who is a five-time assists leader and one of the league’s most reliable floor generals. A year of mentoring from Nash, coupled with some assets would be an amazing haul for Hinkie and a welcomed addition to Brett Brown’s roster.
Then there is the possibility that we’ve been talking about ever since number 23 jerseys went up in a blaze in Cleveland, OH. The possible return of James to Cleveland is upon us. The Cavaliers have reportedly spoken with James’ representation and they believe they could be a landing spot for James.
They want to sell James on the young roster they have led by Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins. They also believe that their roster flexibility over the next few seasons will allow James to use his influence to help the team acquire any talent they want, something Miami’s restrictive salary situation did not allow.
If James goes for the hometown option, the team will seek to part ways with the contract of Jarrett Jack who is due to make $6.2 million annually for the next three seasons. The Cavaliers have expressed interesting in trading Jack to the Brooklyn Nets for Marcus Thornton’s expiring $8.6 million contract.
To swing this now, the Cavaliers would have to find a third team willing to take on Marcus Thornton’s deal. Here is where the Sixers raise their hand.
The Sixers have a hole right now at the shooting guard position that Thornton could fill for the season. Just like the other scenarios, the Sixers could command assets from the Cavaliers and even the Nets depending on their willingness to get the deal completed.
Hinkie has to be looking at this year’s free agency landscape as a blank canvas that he can use to draw up some key aspects of the Sixers’ future. If Sixers fans didn’t think they had a reason to pay attention to what James, Anthony, Bosh and other big names were up to this summer—think again.
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