Report: 76ers Connected to Pair of Heat Forwards in Free Agency

Report: 76ers Connected to Pair of Heat Forwards in Free Agency Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers made their big splash this offseason, signing nine-time All-Star Paul George to a four-year contract. President of basketball operations Daryl Morey still has to work on filling out the remainder of the roster. On that front, the Sixers were tied to a pair of Miami Heat forwards on Wednesday afternoon.

Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the Sixers “have been in discussions” with free agent Haywood Highsmith. The 27-year old has some history with the Sixers organization. After going undrafted in 2018, he was picked up by the Sixers’ G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. He made a brief appearance with the Sixers in the 2018-19 season before ultimately being cut from the roster.

Highsmith spent the next few years developing in the G League. He then signed multiple 10-day contracts with the Heat in the 2021-22 season before eventually receiving a full-time roster spot. Over the last couple of seasons, Highsmith earned consistent minutes with Miami. He averaged 6.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.5 blocks and 0.8 steals in 20.7 minutes per game for the Heat last season. Highsmith also shot a career-high 39.6% from 3-point range on 2.9 attempts per contest. While those stats might not seem impressive, the analytics paint a better picture of his impact defensively.

Highsmith has blossomed into a valuable 3-and-D player over the last few seasons. He has the size (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and versatility to defend multiple positions, something the Sixers could use in their rotation.

Another potential free agent option the Sixers have been connected to is Caleb Martin. According to Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, the Sixers “have also had discussions with Heat free agent [Caleb] Martin as they scan the free-agent market for options to fill their roster.”

Martin is a do-it-all role player. He averaged 10.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game for the Heat last season. The 28-year old is also a capable and willing outside shooter, knocking down 35.3% of his 3.5 long-distance attempts per game over the last two seasons. Martin has a history of stepping up in the postseason, averaging 12.5 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 42.6% from 3-point range through 28 combined playoff games the previous two campaigns.

At 6-foot-5, Martin has the size to defend multiple positions. While he does not have same level of defensive versatility as Highsmith, Martin can still adequately defend both shooting guards and small forwards.

The Sixers, if they waive Paul Reed, could have roughly $8.9 million in salary cap space. It would make sense for Philadelphia to use some of that space on either Highsmith or Martin. Miami does not have the cap space to retain both Highsmith and Martin. According to Jackson and Chiang:

“The most the Heat can currently offer Highsmith or Martin while remaining under the ultra-punitive second apron is a contract with a starting salary of about $7 million with a maximum of 8 percent raises each season.”

Philadelphia should be able to take advantage of the Heat’s predicament and sign away one of their valuable role players. The Sixers are in the process of filling out their rotation with cheap, productive players. Both Highsmith and Martin would fit the bill.

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