Kyle Lowry is coming home to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Charlotte Hornets officially waived Lowry on Sunday, which means he’s free to join his hometown Sixers after he clears waivers at 5 p.m. Tuesday. He plans to do just that, as his agent told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that he’ll be signing a $2.8 million rest-of-season deal with the Sixers using a portion of their mid-level exception.
Once the Sixers sign Lowry, they’ll still be roughly $2.1 million below the $165.3 million luxury-tax line, and they’ll have two open roster spots. They still have plenty of their mid-level exception remaining, but they likely won’t go back above the tax line after spending a second-round pick at the trade deadline to dip below it.
The Sixers could use some of their MLE to hand out minimum-salary contracts for up to four years of length. However, they figure to prioritize their offseason flexibility above all else, as they could create upward of $65 million in cap space this summer after their moves at the trade deadline.
The Sixers could (and arguably should) use one of their open roster spots to convert Ricky Council IV or Terquavion Smith from a two-way contract to a standard deal. But they’ll have plenty of veteran options to pursue on the buyout market, too.
While Spencer Dinwiddie (Los Angeles Lakers) and Bismack Biyombo (Oklahoma City Thunder) have already found new homes, other veterans are still looking for their next teams. The Sixers likely won’t prioritize another point guard after signing Lowry and adding Cameron Payne at the trade deadline, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them pursue additional shooting or another big man on the buyout market.
Since the Sixers can’t re-sign Marcus Morris Sr., Furkan Korkmaz or Danuel House Jr., the following five players might be the best veteran options to fill one or both of their remaining open roster spots.
Danny Green, SG/SF
The Sixers had Danny Green on their opening-night roster, but they waived him one week into the season because they needed extra roster spots when they traded James Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers. Green has yet to latch on with another team since then, so he might have been holding out hope for a post-trade-deadline reunion.
Green is now nearly two years removed from the ACL and LCL tears that he suffered with the Sixers during the 2022 NBA playoffs. They traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies that summer as salary ballast to land De’Anthony Melton, but he made minimal impact for the Grizzlies (three games) and Cleveland Cavaliers (eight games) last year as he recovered from his devastating knee injury.
It’s unclear how much (if anything) the now-36-year-old has left in the tank. But he played with Lowry in Toronto under Sixers head coach Nick Nurse, so Lowry’s homecoming could be further incentive for Green to return, too.
The shooting-starved Sixers already made one big upgrade at the trade deadline with Buddy Hield, one of the league’s best long-distance snipers over the past decade. Green is a career 40.0% shooter on medium volume. If he’s still able to knock down open triples, he could be an asset as a depth signing.
Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF
Danny Green isn’t a plus defender anymore, but he used to be one of the league’s more unheralded option on that end of the floor. No one would use the same description for Danilo Gallinari, even in his prime.
Gallinari’s long-range shooting has always been his primary source of value, and that’s never been truer than it is now. He’s been one of the league’s worst defenders this season, which would make him difficult to play in playoff settings.
Still, he’s a career 38.2% three-point shooter on 5.0 attempts per game. For a Sixers team that ranked 26th in three-point attempts and 27th in three-point makes per game leading up to the trade deadline, adding that type of volume shooting could be worth the defensive tradeoff.
Tobias Harris is a low-volume three-point shooter (3.4 attempts in 34.0 minutes per game), and the Sixers traded Morris, his primary backup, at the deadline. Robert Covington will knock down an occasional triple when (if?) he returns from a knee injury that has sidelined him since late December, but the Sixers don’t have a conscienceless shooter like Gallinari in their frontcourt.
If they’re looking for pure offensive upgrades on the buyout market, Gallinari should be toward the top of their list.
Chimezie Metu, PF/C
While speaking with reporters Friday after the trade deadline, team president Daryl Morey expressed dismay that he was unable to trade for another big man in the wake of Joel Embiid’s meniscus injury. He did say it wasn’t due to a lack of effort on their end, but he downplayed the likelihood of addressing that spot on the buyout market.
Morey said there typically haven’t been as many enticing frontcourt players on the buyout market as there are at other positions. He added that he could see the Sixers adding a big, but he didn’t “see it as someone you would expect to play a huge role necessarily.”
If the Sixers decide that they need reinforcements behind Paul Reed and Mo Bamba until Embiid returns—and that Ricky Council IV and KJ Martin can’t hold down the fort like they did Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers—Chimezie Metu could be an option.
Metu played 37 games with the Phoenix Suns this season (starting five) and averaged 5.0 points on 50.8% shooting and 3.0 rebounds in only 12.1 minutes per game. However, he had one of the worst on/off differentials in the league before the Suns traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies at the deadline.
The injury-ravaged Grizzlies promptly waived Metu to open a roster spot for GG Jackson II, whom they converted from a two-way contract to a multiyear deal. Metu wouldn’t provide the Sixers with much rim protection, but he’d be another big body who could gobble up rebounds in spot minutes behind Reed and Bamba until Embiid returns.
Robin Lopez, C
If the Sixers are looking for a more traditional third-string center, Robin Lopez may be the best option left on the market.
The Milwaukee Bucks traded Lopez to the Sacramento Kings last week for the draft rights to Dimitrios Agravanis. In other words, it was a salary dump designed to open a roster spot, which they used to sign Patrick Beverley. Meanwhile, the Kings promptly waived Lopez, who averaged career lows in points (1.1) and minutes (4.1) per game this season in Milwaukee.
Like with Danny Green, it’s unclear how much (if anything) the soon-to-be 36-year-old Lopez has left in the tank. He played spot minutes for the Cavaliers last season, but he wouldn’t be much more than injury insurance for the Sixers. If he played a single non-garbage-time minute for them in the playoffs, something would have gone horrifically wrong.
There’s value in limiting the wear-and-tear on Reed and Bamba until Embiid returns, though. Lopez might be able to soak up a few minutes and provide rim protection, even if he won’t give the Sixers much beyond that.
Thaddeus Young, PF
We start with a former Sixer and we end with a former Sixer.
Thaddeus Young spent the first seven years of his career in Philadelphia, but he was an early victim of the veteran purge in the Process era. The Sixers traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2014, and he has since played for the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors over the past decade.
Young was shooting a career-high 62.1% for the Raptors this season before they traded him to the Nets in a package for Spencer Dinwiddie, albeit on only 3.8 shot attempts per game. He shot only 1-of-6 from deep in 350 minutes across 23 games, and he doesn’t provide much of a scoring presence in general, but he’s at least a physical frontcourt body to serve as reinforcements for the injury-ravaged Sixers.
Young did play nearly 15 minutes per game for the Raptors in the playoffs two years ago, although the Sixers wouldn’t be asking that of him now. He could be a wise hedge against Covington’s uncertain rest-of-season outlook, but he’d be competing with KJ Martin for the scraps of minutes behind Harris.
Still, the Sixers could use any healthy body they can get until Embiid, Covington, Melton and Nicolas Batum return. If Batum and Melton aren’t back after the All-Star break, the Sixers might want some extra veteran depth like Young just to soak up minutes and avoid overtaxing their other rotation players.