Sixers’ stay or go at the All-Star break part one: expiring contracts

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By: Jesse Larch, Sports Talk Philly Staff

With the season past the midway point the Sixers have seen some of their young players develop into pieces for the future, and they have seen some players fall out of favor in Brett Brown's rotation.

To determine which players will stay and go things like performance, cost, positional depth, and ability to replace them must be considered.

 The amount of picks that the Sixers hold puts them in a position to build the exact roster that they want for years to come. With the team beginning to turn a corner, the Sixers must decide which players from the current team will stay as they transition from a perennial lottery team to a team competing for a playoff spot, beginning with the players who have expiring contracts.

Ersan Ilyasova – Current: $8.4 Million 

Key Averages: 27.3 MPG 14.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG

Ersan Ilyasova's arrival in Philadelphia has coincided with the team's recent stretch of winning. The veteran, dubbed "The Professional," has been  a consistent source of scoring with or without Joel Embiid on the floor while remaining a sound defender and rebounder. Much like Gerald Henderson he has brought his experience to Philadelphia and allowed those around him to play with more confidence. There is a strong case for keeping Ilyasova, but the emergence of rookie Dario Saric has made less of a need for Ilyasova, specifically late in games where Dario has begun to take the role of closer on both ends of the floor. With Ilyasova's minutes late in games being transferred to Saric, The veteran will not be back  next year with Dario Saric starting at the 4 and Richaun Holmes as his backup. 

Verdict: GO

Sergio Rodriguez – Current: $8 Million

Key Averages: 22.7 MPG 8.1 PPG, 37.1 3P%, 5.1 APG

El Chacho has enjoyed a rotational role in his return to the NBA. He entered the season as Jeryd Bayless's backup and soon took over the starting job when Bayless was ruled out for the year. Rodriguez has impressed with a flair for playmaking and seemed to be an upgrade over Ish Smith, but as the season has progressed Sergio has lost his starting job to the surging T.J. McConnell who has been a sparkplug ever since entering the starting lineup. With Bayless expected back next year, McConnell taking over the starting job, and the prospect of Ben Simmons running the offense, Rodriguez will not be back next season.

Verdict: GO

Nerlens Noel – Current: $4.4 Million

Key Averages: 19.4 MPG, 8.9 PPG, 61.1 FG%, 5 RPG

The Sixers' logjam in the frontcourt has been no secret and Brett Brown's inconsistent rotations have been evidence of that. Nerlens Noel is a restricted free agent at the end of the year, and the consensus is that he is due for a significant raise at the end of this season. Rim protection is coveted in the NBA and with frontcourts across the league underwhelming, Noel looks to be primed for a starting role with whichever team he ends up with. Noel's future hinges on what Bryan Colangelo does at this year's trade deadline. Jahlil Okafor and Noel are both likely trade candidates and whichever one remains after the deadline will likely be back in Philly for next season as well. Okafor and Noel has long been a question of offense versus defense, however Nerlens Noel has begun to develop his offensive game, shooting a career high 61.1 percent from the field while Okafor's defensive productions remains below average. With Brett Brown being a defensive minded coach, expect Nerlens Noel to remain with the team as support for Joel Embiid.

Verdict: Stay

Robert Covington –  Current: $1.02 Million

Key Averages: 31.1 MPG, 11.7 PPG. 6.2 RPG

Robert Covington has been a fixture of Brett Brown's lineups for the majority of his run as Sixers' head coach. Covington's future depends on a team option that is yet to be picked up while teammates Nik Stauskas, Jahlil Okafor, and Joel Embiid have all already seen their options exercised. Covington established himself as a 3-and-D wing player in his first two seasons and this past season he has expanded his game to be a consistent source of rebounds, registering six double-doubles on the season so far. Aside from an ice-cold start, Covington has been a consistent contributor and shown continued growth in each of his three seasons. With Dario Saric likely taking over at the four, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot not quite ready to start, Covington will have his option picked up before the draft.

Verdict: Stay

Stay tuned for part two of Sixers stay or go when we take a look at players on non-guaranteed deals for 2017-2018.

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