The last way for NBA teams to add some finishing touches to their roster is the veteran buyout market, and the Sixers have a bevy of targets that could potentially add to their bench unit. Well, they better get moving, because one of the top buyout market candidates just inked a deal yesterday, and it’s a bit of a warning sign for Philly. With the addition of James Harden and the emergence of Tyrese Maxey, the Sixers’ starting unit is no longer in need of ball handling help. The bench, however, is a different story. As the roster is currently constructed, Doc Rivers is resigned to using Shake Milton or Furkan Korkmaz as the best available backup ball handler. Those are not exactly the options you want if your aspirations are what the Sixers’ are: a championship. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the main guy that a lot of fans and analysts wanted to fill that hole signed with an in conference and in division rival yesterday.
Monday afternoon, Goran Dragic agreed to sign with the Brooklyn Nets following his contract buyout from the Toronto Raptors. It was an interesting move in many respects, not just because he was a favorite target of many people who follow/cover the Sixers. At face level, it always sucks seeing a guy that could have helped your team go to a team that you could potentially face in the playoffs, but there’s a deeper issue here. If Dragic came into Philly, he would immediately be the 2nd best option to run the point, behind only Tyrese Maxey. In Brooklyn, their point guard depth chart reads Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Patty Mills, and then Dragic. Rather than getting a better opportunity with the Sixers, he opted for a lesser role with the Nets, meaning only one thing: Dragic felt that the Nets offered him a better opportunity to win a title than Philadelphia did.
That is a major problem if it’s a sentiment shared by other desirable players on the buyout market. The Sixers bench unit still has some holes, and even though they may ultimately be covered up by the sheer ability of Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tobias Harris, and Tyrese Maxey, it would help to be able to add one or two more useful veteran pieces. However if the majority of those players decide that Philly is not as an attractive of an option as it might seem to us, Milwaukee, Brooklyn, Miami, and the Western Conference could certainly be beneficiaries. The good news is that there is an alternative explanation for Dragic’s decision. He played alongside Brooklyn Head Coach Steve Nash in Phoenix during the first few years of his career, meaning the two undoubtedly have an established relationship. It could be as simple as Dragic wanting to play for the man that helped mentor him as a young player first entering the NBA. And yet, the odds to win both the Eastern Conference and NBA Finals have the Nets as favored more than the Sixers. That was eye raising, but now, with Dragic’s decision, the worry is growing slightly that Philly is not quite the buyout destination that we all thought it was.