Big name after big name came off the board.
Veterans like Jamal Crawford and Rajon Rondo had reported interest from the Sixers. Younger, restricted free agents like Harrison Barnes, Dion Waiters and Allen Crabbe had been linked to the team at one point or another.
With big contracts being handed out like candy, Sixers fans wondered, "When are the Sixers going to get involved?"
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There's debate as to how serious the Sixers were about some of the guys they were linked to. They supposedly made a "significant offer" to Crawford. Before free agency started, they were said to be willing to offer Barnes and/or Waiters max deals. Whether it was on purpose or an accident, Bryan Colangelo may have been wise to sit back and watch the madness unfold.
While more sought-after players agreed to terms with other teams, Colangelo and company didn't make a big splash. They agreed with veteran combo guard Jerryd Bayless on a three-year $27 million deal last week. On Monday, they signed Spanish point guard Sergio Rodriguez — who had a stint in the NBA before returning to Europe — to a one-year, $8 million deal (see story).
Sure, the logjam still exists in the frontcourt, and as far as long-term fits for the backcourt, Bayless, 27, and Rodriguez, 30, likely don't fit that description. But during the 2016-17 season, they make the Sixers better.
Bayless and Rodriguez aren't All-Stars. At best, they're likely good bench pieces on a winning team. Bayless has played on winning teams in the NBA. He's played in 29 playoff games (two starts) and averaged 21.3 minutes per game. Rodriguez — who was a teammate of Bayless for one season in Portland — hasn't played a ton of big minutes in the NBA, but led his team, Real Madrid, to a Euroleague title in 2015. (The Euroleague is widely regarded as the second-most competitive league in the world, in case you were wondering.)
As far as fits on the court, both players make sense. They're not the greatest defenders, but offensively they're a great complement to the Sixers' biggest building blocks. Bayless shot a career-best 44 percent on a career-high 231 attempts from three last season. Rodriguez shot 40 percent from distance overseas the last five years. That will give the team proper floor spacing and allow Ben Simmons more room to do his thing. Rodriguez also demonstrates the ability to excel in the pick-and-roll. He's a true point guard, which will help the game of whichever big men are still on the Sixers' roster.
Consider this: The Sixers' top-six perimeter players from a minutes-per-game standpoint last season were Ish Smith (32.4), Robert Covington (28.4), Hollis Thompson (28), Isaiah Canaan (25.5), Nik Stauskas (24.8) and T.J. McConnell (19.8). With all due respect to those players, you'd have to consider Bayless, who's played important NBA minutes, and Rodriguez, the 2014 Euroleague MVP, upgrades over several of them.
Bayless and Rodriguez weren't the names Sixers fans were lusting over, but who did you really want? Kevin Durant and Mike Conley weren't coming here. Not to rip a guy like Barnes, who's had a solid NBA career and helped the Warriors win a title, but are you upset that the Sixers didn't offer a guy like that max money? Are you disappointed they won't pay a 30-year-old Rondo to dominate the ball and bring his attitude to town?
Just because the Sixers have money, it doesn't mean they need to spend it. Next offseason, the cap will rise again and the ridiculous contracts will continue. Names like Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin will be in line for serious raises. By 2018, Chris Paul, DeMarcus Cousins and James Harden will be looking to cash in.
The point is, for the next several seasons, there'll be money to spend and players to spend it on. The team's best player will turn 20 years old in a couple weeks. You have a top-three protected pick (which will be unprotected in 2018 if it doesn't convey this season) from the Lakers and an unprotected first-round pick in 2019 (and still have the right to swap picks) with the perpetually struggling Kings. If you continue to give Simmons a solid supporting cast that will help him develop and help the profile of the team, you can become an attractive destination.
Before you know it, the Sixers will make their big splash. It just doesn't appear to be this year. And that may work out for the best.