76ers Stay or Go: Did Buddy Hield Do Enough Last Season to Remain in Philadelphia?

76ers Stay or Go: Did Buddy Hield Do Enough Last Season to Remain in Philadelphia? Feb 25, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Buddy Hield (17) shoots a 3-pointer against the Milwaukee Bucks during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers’ roster is likely to undergo another revamp during this offseason. Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey are the only two players locked in to be on the roster at the beginning of the 2024-25 season. The Sixers have decisions to make about the future of 13 players from their 2023-24 roster. They are likely to possess roughly $60 million in salary cap space heading into free agency this summer.

In the second installment of the “76ers Stay or Go” series, let’s discuss whether the Sixers should bring back sharpshooter Buddy Hield.

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The Sixers’ biggest move at the 2024 trade deadline was acquiring Hield from the Indiana Pacers for a package consisting of Marcus Morris Sr., Furkan Korkmaz and three second-round picks. Hield’s time in Philadelphia got off to a scorching hot start. The sharpshooter averaged 22.3 points, 4 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 45% from long distance over his first four games with the Sixers. At that point, trading for Hield without giving up a first-round pick looked like a steal for the Sixers.

However, Hield’s production and minutes gradually diminished throughout the remainder of the regular season. Hield lost his starting spot and fell down in the rotation. He averaged just 21.4 minutes per contest over the final 20 games of the season.

Hield, an eight-year veteran, made it to the postseason for the first time in his career. Unfortunately, his poor play from late in the regular season carried over into the Sixers’ first-round series against the New York Knicks. The 31-year old struggled mightily, scoring a total of three points in the first three games of the series. Head coach Nick Nurse benched him for Games 4 and 5 before reinserting him into the rotation for Game 6.

In a major turn of events, Hield lit up the scoreboard in Game 6. He knocked down five triples in the second quarter alone, helping the Sixers turn a 14-point deficit at the end of the first quarter into a three-point lead going into halftime. Hield went on to finish with 20 points in Game 6. While it was not enough to save the Sixers’ season, it did effectively showcase the type of play Hield is capable of when things are clicking.

The Sixers are now faced with a tough decision. Hield’s first season with the Sixers was not perfect, but he showed enough to warrant strong consideration about extending his contract. His skillset is a good fit next to the Sixers’ star duo of Embiid and Maxey. Hield is second behind only Stephen Curry in 3-point makes since he came into the league in the 2016-17 season. That type of elite, high-volume outside shooting is exactly what the Sixers should be looking to surround Embiid and Maxey with.

Considering the Sixers traded for Hield, it is likely they have an interest in keeping him in Philadelphia. Hield, according to Sports Illustrated’s Justin Grasso, said he also has a desire to remain with the Sixers.

“I’m here now — I feel like we didn’t get things done — I’d like to be in Philly again,” Hield said after the Sixers were eliminated from the playoffs. “They traded for me and I feel like they would want me too.

“I came to the party late. There was a lot of injuries. Before I was here, the team was rolling. I couldn’t play in the rotation sometimes, too, because they had their guys they trusted, and I understand that. Right now, Philly is a priority for me. We’ll see when it comes down. My agent is one call away, and we’ll figure something happens. If not, I’ll put my head down and keep working and I’m sure God will open up doors for me regardless.”

While both sides have an interest in getting a deal done, there is one major stumbling block. The Sixers reportedly made clear their desire to add another star player to the roster this offseason. Doing so will require freeing up as much salary cap space as possible. The cap hold for Hield sits at $28.9 million. The Sixers will have to renounce their rights to Hield in order to free up the requisite cap space.

Hield is likely going to fetch around $10 million per year on the open market. He also will have multiple suitors, including the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic. However, the Sixers have an edge over most other suitors due to both their ability to immediately compete for a championship and Hield’s expressed interest in re-signing with the Sixers.

Keeping Hield in Philadelphia should be in the Sixers’ interests this offseason. His elite outside shooting makes him a great on-court fit with the remainder of the roster. However, depending on their other offseason moves, Hield might be out of the Sixers’ price range. Their ability to re-sign the veteran sharpshooter is largely dependent on the success of their attempts at adding another star player. If the Sixers succeed in adding another big name, it becomes difficult to see a path towards Hield remaining in Philadelphia.

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