By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
At the moment, many Philadelphia 76ers fans are (rightfully) laser-focused on ping pong ball combinations for next month’s lottery and what franchise building blocks the team could select in the subsequent draft. Yet, there’s another facet to this summer’s roster construction worth examining.
While these signings didn’t exactly headline SportsCenter, we saw last year with the acquisitions of Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, and Sergio Rodriguez that general manager Bryan Colangelo is more apt to pursue veterans in free agency than his predecessor. In the coming weeks, I’m going to take a look at players I would like the high-collared one to pursue heading into the the 2017-18 season.
With Ben Simmons poised to direct the offense in the fall, the top priority for the Sixers needs to be surrounding him with as much shooting as possible. One unrestricted free agent who fits the bill is Omri Casspi. Turning 29 years old in June, Casspi is a career 36.7% shooter from behind the arc, who shot better than 40% on three-pointers during both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons in Sacramento.
Casspi had a down year last year, partially attributable to suffering a broken thumb immediately after a trade to New Orleans, and also surely due in some part to whatever general malaise was hanging over the Kings franchise. After his broken thumb healed, Casspi was rumored to have interest from a handful of playoff teams, but he strangely opted to finish out the year with Minnesota.
In addition to being an above-average shooter, Casspi has a career total rebounding percentage of 10.7%, a solid number for a small forward. He’s shown an ability in the past to slide between the two forward positions, so he could certainly fit the role Bryan Colangelo mentioned of getting another stretch four in the rotational mix.
Like Bayless, Henderson, and El Chacho, Casspi is in the sweet spot in his career arc where he is not past his prime, but has been around long enough to satisfy Colangelo’s “veteran leadership” criteria (for whatever that’s worth). More importantly, the Sixers would not have to break the bank to acquire his services. The last deal signed in the summer of 2015 was for a mere 2 years, $6M, and prior to that, he was making league minimum. A contract in the ballpark of 2 years, $10M would probably get the job done, keeping plenty of Philadelphia’s glut of cap space free should the team decide to pursue a big ticket player in the market.
A native of Israel, Casspi would fit right in on a Sixers roster heavy with international players. More importantly, the outside shooting and positional versatility at the forward positions are the exact qualities the team is looking for alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Signing Casspi wouldn’t be a top trending item on Twitter, but it would be a solid, incremental move in advancing the franchise forward. Hopefully, Bryan Colangelo feels similarly come July.