Welcome to the Free Agency Midnight Bonanza!
Yes, folks, the NBA and NHL free agency periods begin tonight at midnight and noon respectively and Twitter may very well implode as a result.
In general, the start of free agency is so much fun because it’s the closest you get to fan fiction. Among tonight’s story lines you’ll most likely see things like “Carmelo has great talks with Bulls—looking like frontrunner”, “Nashville aggressively pursuing Paul Stastny” and “LeBron James kidnapped by Cleveland, brainwashing inevitable.” There’s so much hope and chaos that it’s nearly impossible to not get sucked in as fans bases live and die by the second, breathless as their teams negotiate with the next franchise savior.
However, as much as LeBron coming to Philly makes sense in my untidy bubble, it’s not going to happen. Nor are the Flyers making any big signings until they can unload Vinny LeCavalier. Instead, the Sixers and Flyers will follow the stars a different way—as scavengers rather than suitors. It’s not glamorous, but it’s for the best.
Let’s start with the Flyers. First off, they’re the only team in the league that is currently over the salary cap. Now, while that’s not illegal at this point of the year it matters in a few months. They’re going to need to reduce salary eventually and throwing lots of money at star players is not going to do that. Plus, Ron Hextall has made it abundantly clear with the Scott Harntell move that the Flyers will be more cap conscious moving forward. There’s young talent on this roster that needs to be cultivated and signed-long term.
So, what moves will they make? Back-up goaltender is the most likely position for the team to make noise with, which in itself suggests that they’ll be dull. In addition to Ray Emery, who backed up for the Flyers last year, Jonas Hiller, Thomas Greiss and a whole slew of others will be available to back up Steve Mason. As we discovered during Mason’s playoff absence, back-up netminders matter.
Outside of that, the Flyers could throw some shit at the wall for 4th line forwards and camp fodder defensemen. Offensively they have too many forwards as is which is in part why LeCavalier has been such a disaster. They’ve also got six defensemen under contract for this upcoming season including Andrew MacDonald, who the team signed through 2020, and Kimmo Timonen’s 39 year-old bag of bones. If they resign restricted free agent Erik Gustafsson then they’re really reaching for talent.
Given the team’s mission to unload LeCavalier and his salary, the Flyers will be waiting for the market on centers to thin out so that a team like Nashville returns to the bargaining table. That is far and away the Flyers top priority heading into this free agency period. Get it done, Hexy.
For the Sixers, they’re in a tough boat as well with signing players. Specifically, they’re so appallingly bad that even Brett Brown has admitted that no one wants to come here. If the Sixers were to bring any players aboard, they’d have to grossly overpay for their services. Given Sam Hinkie’s track record, there’s better odds that you’re bitten by Luis Suarez.
What the Sixers will do is continue to buy low on players with potential (a la James Anderson last year) and try to work their way into three team deals. The free agent frenzy that GMs are in has hit an all time high as LeBron, Carmelo, Kevin Love, and more could be had. The Sixers conveniently pay bottom dollar and would be able to absorb any and all bad contracts in exchange for picks, projects, and a misfits like Tony Wroten. So while the Sixers won’t be involved in any major rumors, you can guarantee they’ll be sniffing around them.
At this point, the best fit and most commonly tossed around name will be Chandler Parsons of the Rockets. Parsons is a young, talented swingman that has connections with Hinkie from Houston and is likely to be shipped out of town if the Rockets can land a star to compliment Dwight Howard and James Harden. At 26, Parsons length, shooting ability, and likely reasonable contract from a sign-and-trade makes too much sense to ignore. His name will pop up frequently.
But like I said earlier, the Sixers have more cash than Scrooge McDuck so I’m going to dream for now too….#LeBronToBrotherlyLove