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Sixers Splash in Free Agency as Progress Begins

People said it wouldn’t work.

People said the steps taken by the Philadelphia 76ers in the last three years would promote a “losing culture”.

People said free agents wouldn’t want to come to Philadelphia.

When you look at what the Sixers have become thanks to the plan of action by one Samuel Hinkie, it’s becoming more and more clear that those people were wrong.

As I’ve stated multiple times on Twitter, those people need to “Take the ‘L'”. The war is over. Let’s move forward together — after there are many apologies said and written by those same people.

Saturday was the beginning of NBA free agency. While the Sixers didn’t get huge, marquee players like Chris Paul (traded to the Houston Rockets), Paul George (traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder), or Jimmy Butler (traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves), the Sixers have attracted the attention of free agents that will help the team both next year and potentially future years.

Take former Los Angeles Clipper and now Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard J.J. Redick.

Redick was a player who was rumored to be targeted by the Sixers at the beginning of free agency. The former Duke University stand-out has a very specific skill the team lacks greatly: three-point shooting. Last year, the 76ers ranked 25th in the league in that category (34% shooting close to 30 three pointers per game). Adding Redick theoretically will aid in making that percentage higher.

Here are Redick’s numbers for the last four seasons with the Clippers:

2013-2014: 5.3 3PA, 39.5%
2014-2015: 5.9 3PA, 43.7%
2015-2016: 5.6 3PA, 47.5% (led the NBA)
2016-2017: 6.0 3PA, 42.9%

Redick is the kind of shooter the Sixers require to space the floor. Looking at this heatmap from last year, Redick is the perfect acquisition.

Therein lies the dilemma. Redick is the perfect fit for the Sixers offense. He is also 33 years old with the potential of making one last big money contract in the NBA. Would he come to Philadelphia?

I guess we have our answer.

According to Liberty Ballers’s Kyle Neubeck via his sources, Redick turned down longer term, more money deals from both the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Brooklyn Nets to sign a one-year, $23 million deal with the Sixers.

Sure, money talks, but a team with a “losing culture” doesn’t attract the kind of player Redick is. A team where free agents allegedly don’t want to go isn’t the kind of team a player like Redick wants to go. Since Redick chose the Sixers over the Timberwolves — who have a great team comprised of Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, and Andrew Wiggins — and the Nets — who can throw dump trucks of money at Redick — those people who said such things about The Process might have been wrong.

There’s tons of excitement about the Sixers headed in to the 2017-2018 season. Joel Embiid will be healthy (God willing). Ben Simmons will finally hit the floor. Markelle Fultz is yet another young, marquee piece for this team, and now, the 76ers have added a shooter in Redick that provides the kind of outside threat that’s been lacking in South Philadelphia.

After the J.J. Redick signing, the Sixers went out and dropped $11 million on Amir Johnson. Sure, the name doesn’t make you proclaim “Championship”, but Johnson is a quality free agent big man. There hasn’t been much clarity on how much Embiid will play this season other than the report he will not be on a minutes restriction. If and when Embiid needs a day off, Johnson can step in and play center for stretches.

Johnson won’t score like Embiid can, but he does wipe the glass like a window washer on a high rise. In his career, Johnson has a 10.8% offensive rebound percentage and 18.6 defensive rebound percentage. He’s also the kind of player that Sixers fans can appreciate. He’s a grit-and-grind guy. Johnson is tough. He will fight for every rebound and bring attitude to the front court. Think of him as a Tyrone Hill for this generation.

Again, $11 million talks volumes, but Johnson could have taken far less money to latch on to the Golden State Warriors or San Antonio Spurs and go ring chasing. Johnson chose to come to the Sixers.

There is a movement happening, now. The league is starting to take notice — players and agents. Yes, they’re not the large names, but they’re names that are effective, make sense for the team, and the kinds of names that wouldn’t have given the Sixers a first thought two to three years ago let alone a second thought.

Another thought has resonated with some free agents and fans of the Sixers as well: playoffs. Thanks to some monumental shaking up (i.e. Butler and George) in the Eastern Conference, there’s serious belief the team can make the playoffs. Barring any more insane moves, these are theoretically the top eight East teams in no particular order: Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Toronto, Miami, Charlotte, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia.

If the Sixers are healthy, they’re better than teams like Atlanta, Detroit, and most of the other teams that would be in contention for one of the eight playoff spots next year.

That’s progress.

The Process has been trusted.

Progress has begun.