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The first apron would complicate a Dorian Finney-Smith trade for the Sixers with the Nets the,first,apron,would,complicate,a,dorian,finney,smith,trade,for,the,sixers,with,the,nets,liberty,ballers,front-page,nba-free-agency,76ers-analysis,76ers-free-agency-rumors-news,76ers-trade-rumors

Once the Sixers finalize their signing of Paul George, their $60-plus million in cap space will be a thing of the past. Based on current projections—which are fluid at this time of year—they’ll be left with roughly $8.9 million in cap space to spend if they waive Paul Reed while keeping Ricky Council IV on their books. (If they keep KJ Martin’s cap hold to perform some CBA shenanigans, they’d have $8.0 million.)

After the Sixers spend that cap space, sign Tyrese Maxey to his max contract, re-sign Kelly Oubre Jr. (presumably with the room mid-level exception) and fill out their roster with minimum contracts, they’ll be perilously close to the $178.1 million first apron. That’s something to keep in mind while proposing solutions to their current vacancy at power forward.

Brooklyn Nets forward Dorian Finney-Smith gained steam in recent days as a possible Sixers trade target, and Michael Scotto of HoopsHype poured gas on that fire earlier this week. He reported the Sixers have “exploratory interest” in trading for Finney-Smith, although he noted “nothing is considered imminent there.”

The NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement may be the main reason why.

Teams above the first apron can’t acquire more salary than they send out in trades, among other restrictions. The Sixers could be less than $1 million below the apron once they spend the rest of their cap space and fill out their roster with minimum deals from there. That means they’ll need to send out nearly as much salary as they take back in any trade.

Finney-Smith is earning $14.9 million this season. The only players whom the Sixers have under contract other than Embiid are Reed ($7.7 million) and Council ($1.9 million). The math isn’t mathing there.

The Sixers could arrange a sign-and-trade involving Martin, whose $2.1 million cap hold could be key to the rest of their offseason plans. However, Base Year Compensation issues might complicate any effort to move him before Jan. 15 if they give him a short-term balloon deal.

The Sixers’ reported “exploratory interest” in Finney-Smith might have been an inquiry about the Nets’ asking price if they don’t trade him until the deadline. At that point, any of the Sixers’ players who sign contracts this offseason will be eligible to be traded, which opens the door for a potential midseason shakeup.

The hard-cap rules still apply once the season begins, though. If the Sixers take back more salary than they send out in a trade, they’d get hard-capped at the first apron. They’ll still need to send out almost an equivalent amount of salary than they take back in any trade given their proximity to the first apron.

On the bright side, they wouldn’t run into BYC issues with Martin in a midseason deal. If they give him a two-year deal with a non-guaranteed second season—a contract basically designed to be traded—they could aggregate his salary with anyone else’s on the roster to acquire a player earning even more. The Sixers would be hard-capped at the second apron if they did aggregate contracts, but it’d be hard for them to reach that level of spending this year without wildly overpaying Martin (something like $20-plus million per season).

The TL;DR version: If the Sixers are going to acquire another player with an eight-figure contract, it seems far more likely to happen in-season—when they can aggregate the contracts they sign this summer, including multiple minimum deals—than it does over the rest of the offseason.

With cap space drying up around the league, the Sixers might prefer to wait out the market and see if they can find another Oubre-esque steal like they did last summer. If not, they can package some of the deals they sign this offseason for a midseason trade.

Either way, it’s encouraging to hear that the Sixers are sniffing around players such as Finney-Smith, Caleb Martin and Haywood Highsmith. That suggests they’ve correctly identified the glaring hole on their roster and are proactively working to address it.

That just might not happen right away, or even this offseason at all, much to fans’ chagrin. Like clockwork every year, team president Daryl Morey stresses that he’s less concerned with what the roster looks like in October than what it looks like April, May and June. He might be planning on pursing an upgrade at that spot at the trade deadline and doing some early information gathering.

In the meantime, go back to debating Martin vs. Highsmith, everyone.

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