The Philadelphia 76ers were one of the teams poised to challenge or possibly even overtake the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference hierarchy. A 3-4 start for the 76ers has been an abysmal performance for their squad, and it could not get any worse with the news of James Harden’s foot injury.
Harden is expected to miss approximately four to five weeks, which opens up a significant hole in the roster of the Sixers. Joel Embiid has been missing in action the past couple of days because of a non-COVID illness. Embiid has a planter fasciitis issue that affected him from training camp, so the Sixers have numerous issues that will be needed to address very soon. Thus, a couple of free agents could be considered to mitigate the injury concerns of the franchise.
Eric Bledsoe could have been one point guard who can fill the void of Harden, but he has recently signed a contract in China. Thus, adding a veteran who is very familiar with 76ers coach Doc Rivers, Rajon Rondo could play 15-18 minutes per game to become the facilitator of the second unit. Tyrese Maxey will likely slide to one in the first unit so having Rondo as the complement would be incredible for the squad.
Rajon Rondo’s prime is past him already, but he has proven that he could be a legitimate threat on a championship-contending squad. When nothing was materializing for the Los Angeles Lakers in their 2020 champion team, Rondo would create some offense because of his spectacular basketball intelligence. With Shake Milton likely to be elevated on the depth chart, Rondo will be the perfect veteran to mentor both Maxey and Milton.
A different option from the play style of Rajon Rondo, Lou Williams can score a ton of points off the bench even if he is in the twilight of his career. The 76ers do have guys like De’Anthony Melton, Matisse Thybulle, and Danuel House Jr., but they lack the scoring punch necessary to supplement Embiid and Maxey.
Lou Williams was the backup to Trae Young the past two seasons, and it was in the 2021 playoffs when Williams stepped up when Young suffered an injury in the Eastern Conference Finals. His excellent play cannot be sustained for long stretches similar to his early years, but Philadelphia will not demand a ton from him. To cap it off, Lou Williams is already well-loved in the City of Brotherly Love.
One individual who has the talent but has not received sufficient opportunities in the NBA is Seattle native Isaiah Thomas. After the sensational 2017 season with the Boston Celtics, Thomas has been in and out of the NBA after suffering a serious hip injury. People enjoy focusing on his defensive limitations or injury-riddled career, but one cannot forget that he scored almost 30 PPG in one whole season.
Short stints with the Washington Wizards, Charlotte Hornets, and Los Angeles Lakers have proven that his NBA career is not over just yet. A spitfire guard off the bench who brings a tremendous amount of energy and experience is integral to the development of the 76ers. The courage and determination of Isaiah Thomas to suit up every night is a more magnified characteristic in Philadelphia because of the heightened expectations of the team.
No one is as good as James Harden in free agency, but the Sixers have no choice but and utilize these band-aid solutions.