Alex Caruso is off the board. Paul George might be, too. What’s next for the Sixers, as draft and free agency looms? (2024)

Daryl Morey said during last month’s end-of-season news conference that he understood “everyone will be mad” if this critical 76ers offseason ended with the summer’s biggest stars landing elsewhere.

“But what we definitely can’t do in that situation is actually hurt ourselves,” the president of basketball operations said in early May. “[We need] to make sure we can still build a contender.”


It is far too soon to declare that a passionate fan base will be dissatisfied with the Sixers’ summer. The NBA draft is Wednesday and Thursday, before free agency begins in earnest next Sunday.

But the personnel dominoes are already beginning to fall.

» READ MORE: 2024 NBA draft big board: Who could the Sixers select at No. 16?

Defensive wing Alex Caruso was traded on Thursday evening from the Chicago Bulls to the Oklahoma City Thunder, for a return package that appears underwhelming for a complementary player long-coveted by several teams. Pascal Siakam and Malik Monk have reportedly agreed to re-sign with the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings, respectively, as part of a new wrinkle in the CBA that allows teams to negotiate with their own free agents once the NBA Finals end. Also on Thursday, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported that the Sixers’ interest has dwindled in veteran wing Paul George, who was expected to be their top free-agency target.

So … now what?

This offseason class has long been considered to be less-than-stellar, the downside to the Sixers’ projected $65 million in available cap space. But if that initial wave of players is off the table, here are some other high-profile and role-player options that remain for the Sixers in the free-agency or trade market.

Star players

Jimmy Butler (trade)

Until Tyrese Maxey’s All-Star leap, the 2018-19 version of Butler was Joel Embiid’s best co-star. Though Pat Riley said during his end-of-season news conference that the Miami Heat would not trade Butler, the executive added that Butler’s spotty availability impacts his willingness to offer a max extension.

Butler’s recent injury history and age do prompt a head tilt. Yet The Inquirer reported in late May that, if Butler became available, the Sixers would be prepared to offer the tenacious wing a two-year max extension. The 34-year-old Butler has one season, plus a $52.2 million player option for 2025-26, remaining on his current deal.

Is that hefty price tag worth it for the possibility of “Playoff Jimmy,” who led the Heat to surprise Finals appearances in 2020 and 2023? And during a hypothetical Sixers’ regular season, Butler would not exert as much energy on both ends of the floor as a clear third option to the 2023 MVP Embiid and ascending Maxey.

Zach LaVine (trade) and DeMar DeRozan (free agent)

Does the Caruso trade mean the Bulls are finally heading toward a true teardown?

Reports recently surfaced that Chicago is again interested in moving Zach LaVine, following months of speculation before foot surgery ended his 2023-24 season just before the trade deadline. Sources last season said the Sixers were not interested in LaVine, and there is no reason to believe that has changed.

DeRozan, meanwhile, could be a better fit as a professional scorer and respected veteran presence. But what price would he command at age 34?

Klay Thompson (free agent)

It would be bizarre to see Thompson in a jersey other than the Warriors’ next season. But if he does not take a hometown discount, Golden State could be headed toward a breakup of the trio that spearheaded their dynasty.

Following devastating Achilles and knee injuries, Thompson is not the two-way dynamo he once was. But he is still a capable defender and one of the best shooters of all time, and could provide Embiid with valuable floor spacing.

Brandon Ingram (trade)

Ingram, who is entering the final year of his contract, could be a trade target if the always-frugal New Orleans Pelicans focus on building around Zion Williamson.

He is another All-Star-caliber wing option who is a tick below George and Butler, but is younger and at a less-expensive $36 million salary that would offer more flexibility to fill out the rest of the roster.

» READ MORE: The ‘next’ moves pushed Celtics to a title. Can the Sixers pull off something similar this offseason?

Donovan Mitchell (trade)

The Cleveland Cavaliers remain a wild card in the Eastern Conference. They are still looking for a new coach, and perhaps toward splitting up a starting lineup with two ball-dominant guards in Mitchell and Darius Garland and two big men in Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.

Mitchell has not signed an extension and, if he chooses not to pursue a future in Cleveland, could swiftly set the superstar trade market. He and Maxey would create an offensively potent (yet defensively challenged) backcourt.

If Cleveland re-signs Mitchell, that would almost certainly put Garland on the market instead.

Mikal Bridges (trade)

Following the 2023 Kevin Durant trade-deadline blockbuster, it appeared that Bridges would be at the center of the Nets’ rebuild. But perhaps that has already run its course, as speculation swirled around the deadline and exists again heading into the draft.

Bridges will forever be the one who got away from the Sixers on 2019 draft night. And though he has flashed All-Star potential with the Nets, he appears best suited for a more complementary role he played on the Phoenix Suns’ Finals teams. There, he was an All-defense contender and a multidimensional scorer.

Kevin Durant (trade)

The Suns’ three-star approach never gained traction, and only partially because of injuries. They are now starting over again with coach Mike Budenholzer, and a still-antsy owner in Mat Ishbia.

Devin Booker would have a massive trade market in a blow-it-up scenario, but it is tough to envision the Suns letting go of their franchise cornerstone unless he asked for it. Bradley Beal, meanwhile, has a no-trade clause.

So that leaves Durant, who remains an surgical scorer but has had his own health issues in his mid-30s.

LeBron James (free agent)

This is a particularly long shot after the Los Angeles Lakers hired close friend JJ Redick as head coach Thursday. Still, does any team draft his son, Bronny, earlier than his talent evaluation, with the hopes of at least piquing LeBron’s interest?

Role players

OG Anunoby (free agent)

Anunoby was a terrific 3-and-D addition for the New York Knicks, before injuries derailed the latter part of his season including the playoffs. Though returning to New York still feels like the most likely outcome, as of Friday afternoon, he had not agreed to remain with the team that acquired him in late December. Anunoby also has a history with Nick Nurse, who coached him in Toronto.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (free agent)

Caldwell-Pope is another versatile wing who helped push the Denver Nuggets (and, before that, the Lakers) to championships. The 31-year-old has a $15.4 player option for the 2024-25 season, and is likely to command more than that if he declines that and puts himself on the open market.

Bruce Brown (trade)

Ditto for Brown, who was one of the 2022-23 Nuggets’ most important complementary players. That led to a big payday with the Indiana Pacers, before he was traded to the Raptors in the Siakam deal. It was a bit of a surprise that no contender attempted to add him at the February trade deadline, and he now has a $23 million team option for 2024-25. If that is picked up, it would likely be for trade purposes as much as keeping him on the roster.

Luke Kennard (trade)

The dynamite shooter has a team option with the Memphis Grizzlies for 2024-25, and was recently highlighted by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor as a player who could add a significant lift to a contender. He is another player who could floor-space for Embiid, while also providing some complementary passing.

» READ MORE: Beyond Paul George: All of the free agents who don’t fit the Sixers, and the few who might

Nickeil Alexander-Walker (trade)

Alexander-Walker is an excellent perimeter defender who, after fizzling out in New Orleans, ignited his career with the upstart Minnesota Timberwolves. But that roster is about to get incredibly expensive — especially given a tenuous ownership situation — and Alexander-Walker might be the player they cannot afford to retain. He will be on an expiring $4.3 million contact in 2024-25.

Tyus Jones (free agent)

Jones has long been regarded as arguably the NBA’s best backup point guard. But is he a better fit than Kyle Lowry, who has history with Nurse and now a jump-start on building rapport with Embiid and Maxey?

Andre Drummond (free agent)

Why not put one more Bull on this list? Especially the one who already has Sixers ties.

Drummond for part of the 2021-22 season was perhaps the best backup center Embiid has had — and a notable loss in the Ben Simmons-James Harden blockbuster trade. There have been a couple rumblings since then that Drummond could return to Philly, including at last February’s trade deadline.

The rebounding machine will command a higher salary than the veteran’s minimum he signed with the Sixers three years ago. But after the Sixers’ dreadful numbers when Embiid was off the floor during the first-round playoff loss to the Knicks — along with their tumble down the standings while the former MVP recovered from knee surgery — it might worth paying up to better solidify that spot.

Alex Caruso is off the board. Paul George might be, too. What’s next for the Sixers, as draft and free agency looms? (2024)


What draft pick was Alex Caruso? ›

Alex Caruso
No. 9 – Oklahoma City Thunder
High schoolA&M Consolidated (College Station, Texas)
CollegeTexas A&M (2012–2016)
NBA draft2016: undrafted
Playing career2016–present
21 more rows

Who was Josh Giddey traded for? ›

Thunder trade Giddey to Bulls for Caruso.

What is Caruso's nickname? ›

The nickname 'The GOAT' actually came from Caruso's former Los Angeles Lakers teammate, LeBron James.

Why did OKC trade Giddey? ›

CHICAGO (AP) — The Bulls and Thunder finalized a deal sending Josh Giddey to Chicago and Alex Caruso to Oklahoma City on Friday, with the Thunder granting the 21-year-old Giddey's trade request after he resisted the team's plans to use him off the bench.

How many 3s does Alex Caruso average? ›

Alex Caruso hit 1.9 threes per game this season.

Who was the number 1 pick in the NBA draft in 1991? ›

Larry Johnson was selected 1st overall by the Charlotte Hornets. Kenny Anderson was selected 2nd overall by the New Jersey Nets. Dikembe Mutombo was selected 4th overall by the Denver Nuggets.

Is Josh Giddey signed to Nike? ›

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Josh Giddey has signed an endorsem*nt deal with Nike, according to ESPN's Nick DePaula.

How did Josh Giddey get into the NBA? ›

Giddey, the No. 6 pick in the 2021 NBA draft, was acquired by Chicago last week after spending his first three seasons with Oklahoma City.

How much does Josh Giddey average? ›

Summary. Josh Giddey has played 3 seasons for the Thunder. He has averaged 13.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 210 regular-season games.

What is caruso in Italian? ›

Italian: nickname from caruso 'close-cropped' (from Latin cariosus 'decayed' also 'smooth bald'). This word was also used in the more general sense 'boy lad' since in the Middle Ages young men of fashion sometimes wore their hair much shorter than was the prevailing style.

What was Caruso's first name? ›

The Italian opera singer Enrico Caruso is considered by many people the most famous opera singer of all time or "The Matchless Singer" for his unique and suggestive vocal timber.

What is the nickname Doncic? ›

Nicknamed "Luka Magic", he also plays for the Slovenia national team and is regarded as one of the greatest European players of all time.

Why was Hakeem Olajuwon traded? ›

Basically, once Hakeem told Rockets' management to break off negotiations, Houston agreed to this trade to allow Hakeem to receive maximum money from the Raptors. Seventeen years of playing for one organization finally allowed Hakeem to “explore” other teams, cities, and situations.

What team did Yao Ming get drafted to? ›

On June 27, 2002, the Rockets made Yao Ming the No.

What team was Josh Giddey drafted to? ›

Who was the #1 draft pick in 2003? ›

LeBron James was one of the most anticipated first overall draft picks in the history of any sport. He is the second high school draftee to be a first overall pick, the first being Kwame Brown in 2001, and was followed by Dwight Howard in 2004. Carmelo Anthony was selected 3rd overall by the Denver Nuggets.

What pick was Dennis Rodman drafted? ›

Who was the 11th pick in the 2011 draft? ›

Klay Thompson was selected 11th overall by the Golden State Warriors.

Who did the Bulls draft in 1999? ›

The 1999-2000 Chicago Bulls First Round Draft Picks - Elton Brand and Ron Artest. The @chicagobulls had two first round picks in the 1999 NBA Draft. With the first overall pick they selected Elton Brand from Duke University, and with the 16th pick, they chose Ron Artest from St. John's University.

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