The absolute optimal move for the Sixers to make during this offseason would be the acquisition of New Jersey unrestricted free agent forward Kris Humphries.
When the salary cap is announced for the 2012-13 season, it is expected to be in the neighborhood of $58 million. The Sixers, who have approximately $55 million committed to contracts next season, can make themselves a player for Humphries by buying out the final year of Elton Brand's contract (amnesty) at $18.2 million.
Although neither Lou Williams nor agent Leon Rose has confirmed that Williams will opt out of the final year of his contract ($6.39 million), multiple sources say he will.
If any of these scenarios occur, the Sixers will be in position to offer the 6-foot-9, 235-pound Humphries a deal. However, a number of teams will be bidding for his services, so the Sixers don't want to put themselves in a situation where they are overpaying the 27-year-old forward who last season averaged 13.8 points (while hardly ever having plays called for him) and 11.0 rebounds per game.
The problem with bidding for Humphries is that the team that signs him will likely overpay.
One of the unfair knocks on Humphries is that the 14th overall pick in the 2004 draft didn't start to really produce until this season. Two season ago, Humphries averaged 10.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game while shooting better than 52 percent from the field.
Another knock against him is that he put up his numbers on a bad team. While this might be true, he also has to be given credit for putting up those numbers while TMZ and the rest of the world went snooping through his garbage following his divorce last year from reality-TV personality Kim Kardashian.
No matter how well Lavoy Allen played in his rookie season, no one in the Sixers organization wants to begin next season with him starting at power forward. In fact, if this scenario does play out - with Brand and 7-foot-1 center Spencer Hawes both not returning - the Sixers would probably prefer to have Allen, an unrestricted free agent they will almost certainly re-sign, though undersize, playing center alongside Humphries in the fall.
If the Sixers sign Humphries, the front line automatically becomes more athletic, even if the marginally athletic Hawes returns. And while free agency follows the draft (players and teams can begin talking July 1), a more athletic and younger front line indirectly allows the Sixers more flexibility with their draft picks.
Going into the draft the Sixers' biggest needs are clearly getting more athletic (i.e. Mississippi State power forward Arnett Moultrie) and adding a shooter (such as Duke's Austin Rivers). If Humphries is in tow after that pick is made, the pressure on the pick to come in and produce immediately won't be as overbearing.
The Sixers want to get out of the middle of the NBA pack and avoid winding up in that horrible hazy area where so many teams wind up - getting stuck for years. And adding Humphries is the best possible way to make sure that the progress this team makes in the coming years is not just in increments.
Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JmitchInquirer. Read his blog, "Deep Sixer," at www.philly.com/deepsixer