Report: Sixers ‘Have Inquired’ About Free Agent Wing Will Barton

Washington Wizards forward Will Barton (5) looks to pass as Dallas Mavericks guard Josh Green (8) defends during the second half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers thus far have remained relatively quiet in the buyout market. Their lone move was signing big man Dewayne Dedmon to a contract for the remainder of the season. However, they may not be done making moves.

According to Jason Dumas of Bleacher Report, the Sixers “have inquired” about free agent wing Will Barton.

Barton was in the midst of having a down season before being bought out on Tuesday by the Washington Wizards. He is averaging 7.7 points on 38.7% shooting from the field and 38% shooting from 3-point range. The 32-year-old played in 19.6 minutes per game while coming off the bench. The Wizards were significantly worse with him on the court. They scored 10.7 fewer points per 100 possessions with Barton on the court compared to when he was off. His net rating was among the worst on the team at minus-12.2.

However, Barton, as recently as last season, has shown he is still capable of being a solid player. He averaged 14.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game from the 2019-20 through 2021-22 seasons. He can still space the floor on relatively high volume, shooting 37.2% from 3-point range on 5.3 attempts per game over the prior three seasons. His ability both to score in isolation and capably run the pick-and-roll make him, on paper, a very useful player offensively.

The 6-foot-6 Barton also possesses a 6-foot-10 wingspan. He has the physical tools to be a plus defender on the wing. However, he has not proven to be consistent on that end of the floor. He will always be more well known for his offensive production rather than anything he does defensively.

Barton is a questionable fit on the Sixers. The team undoubtedly would benefit from having a microwave scorer to come off the bench. However, it is unclear if Barton can be effective in a reserve role. This season was the first time he came off the bench since 2017-18 when he was a member of the Denver Nuggets. The results were subpar, although it is from a sample size of just 40 games.

The Sixers also already have some solid depth at the wing. De’Anthony Melton starts at shooting guard and Tyrese Maxey has switched over to being a sixth man off the bench. Behind them, the team has Shake Milton and Georges Niang. Milton is having one of the best seasons of his career, averaging 9.2 points while shooting 49.6% from the field and 38.7% from beyond the arc. Niang is scoring 8.8 points per game and knocking down 40.9% of his 3-point attempts. A high volume of minutes is just not really there for Barton.

The team would also have to open a roster spot before being able to add anyone else to the roster. On this front, Montrezl Harrell could be on the chopping block. President of basketball operations Daryl Morey went on the “Rights to Ricky Sanchez” podcast earlier in the week. Morey gave an interesting answer when asked about the team’s backup center options. He said “we feel comfortable with P.J. [Tucker], and Paul Reed, and [newly acquired Dewayne] Dedmon as our group…. that’s probably the group we’re rolling with.”

Notice Morey’s answer has one glaring omission: He does not mention Harrell in that group. Harrell has struggled this season, averaging 5.7 points and 2.8 rebounds while offering nothing defensively. His spot in the rotation has dwindled. He played in just three minutes over the team’s previous four games. Putting the pieces together potentially shows that Harrell could be the odd man out if the team elects to sign someone else in the buyout market. His $2.760 million player option for next season adds some complications if they were to release him, but the team could work around that.

Barton is an intriguing player primarily due to his scoring ability. However, he is not a good fit on the Sixers. Teams have until March 1 to sign players in the buyout market who could remain playoff eligible.