Sergio Rodriguez has proven to be a player of value for the Philadelphia 76ers this season, but should they keep him beyond this year?
We are quite a ways off from the Philadelphia 76ers having to make any offseason moves, but as Sam Hinkie would say, we’re trying to have, “the longest view in the room.”
The Sixers — especially if they don’t trade Nerlens Noel somewhat soon — will have a lot on their minds as far as a “to-do list” this offseason goes. From drafting a player in whichever place they get in the draft lottery (or players, if they get the Los Angeles Lakers’ pick as well), to making possible trades, and to signing free agents (both unrestricted and restricted), there is a lot to get done this summer.
One of those unrestricted free agents is Sergio Rodriguez. Rodriguez is making $8 million for this season, and after this year, he will have to draw up another contract with a team if he wishes to stay in the NBA.
Plenty of us thought that Rodriguez would have a bit of trouble coming into the NBA after seven years off playing basketball professionally overseas, but it’s clear that “Spanish Chocolate’s” time in his home country of Spain playing basketball did him well. He has come in this season and been a decent player for the Sixers.
Prior to the season, it looked like Jerryd Bayless was going to be the starting point guard, but a door opened for Sergio when Bayless started the year injured. Now, Rodriguez has started 19 of his 20 games played, and is averaging 8.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game.
Not bad for a player who took such a hefty amount of time off from the NBA.
For this roundtable, some staff members of The Sixer Sense talked about whether or not the team should re-sign Rodriguez at the end of this year.
Nov 27, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Sergio Rodriguez (14) reacts after his turnover against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the third quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Should the Philadelphia 76ers hold on to Sergio Rodriguez after this season? This is all depending on whether or not “El Chacho” is willing to accept a backup role, along with a salary, comparable to that of a reserve’s.
Being that Brett Brown has made it quite clear, according to recent reports, that Ben Simmons will be the team’s starting point guard, this most definitely means that someone has to go. But, is this Rodriguez? Will it be two guards that’ll no longer be with team? Goodbyes are never easy.
The Sixers may have two lottery picks in the 2017 NBA Draft, and it’d be an educated guess to claim that the 76ers will be taking a point guard with their highest selection.
This could leave the Sixers with the following guards, under contract for the 2017-18 season:
Ben Simmons (according to Brown) – $6,168,840
2017 Draft Pick (possibly two in the lottery)
Jerryd Bayless – $9,000,000
Nik Stauskas – $3,807,146
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot – $1,386,600
T.J. McConnell – $1,014,746 Team Option
Gerald Henderson – $9,000,000 Team Option
Hollis Thompson (Not under contract, but could be re-signed)
Also, there’s the possibility of a FA signing at the guard position.
According to the list above, T.J. McConnell is the only true point guard (this is not to say that others will not be good at the one). So, two dominos will have to fall in order for Rodriguez to be back with Philadelphia: The Sixers will have to need a backup point guard after the draft and free agency, and Sergio will have to accept a team-friendly contract; maybe somewhere around a 3-year, $30-million deal.
Nov 19, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Sergio Rodriguez (14) passes past Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
The Philadelphia 76ers are not a team for veterans who love the limelight. Players who need to be “the guy” and are playing on their second or later NBA contract are likely on the phone with their agents demanding a wide berth. In fact, that is likely the scenario that steered any number of free agents away from Philadelphia and back to their former teams with leverage for a huge bump in salary.
Sergio Rodriguez told his agent the opposite. He came to Philadelphia for a reason.
You see, the Philadelphia 76ers will be the team of rookie-to-be Ben Simmons. Simmons is a unique blend of size strength IQ and laser guided accuracy. As a matter of fact, Simmons will likely be a future source of circus passing highlights. But that is something Sergio Rodriguez delivers today.
The Philadelphia 76ers need to focus on building tomorrow’s team, not today’s team. To do so, the team must trust that Ben Simmons’ play will be as sensational and impactful in the back court as Joel Embiid’s arrival has raised the bar in the front court. So the question becomes.. who can play in that shadow? The answer to that question seems obvious to me… Sergio Rodriguez , El Chacho, thrives there.
Rodriguez is ideally suited for that role. He is fluid and comfortable with this team, this roster. His passing skills rival that of Ben Simmons, and he is a seasoned veteran of both the NBA and Euroleague.
While Simmons commands the game court, Rodriguez commands the second team, but with little degradation of assists. Will he be content to fill a backup role on this team? I suspect he will find plenty of satisfaction in the work. And his game continues to improve as he progresses in his second tenure in the NBA.
Rodriguez is the closest match to the “Simmons” game, great on assists, can score. He doesn’t deliver the same size, physicality, and defensive finesse, but the key is the element of keeping all four teammates engaged in the offense. In this area, Rodriguez is Simmons’ twin.
What is that worth? Well, a year of uncertainty was worth $8 million/year, so the next contract would likely be for a minimum of two years and in the $16-18 million range.
Is it worth it? Yes, and then some. This is a team with rookies and a future. It’s important to entrust the right veterans. El Chacho is “The Dude”.
Nov 17, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Sergio Rodriguez (14) dribbles the ball past Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) during the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Do not extend Sergio Rodriguez.
Retaining “El Chacho’s” services even on a one year contract wouldn’t help much in the short term and potentially slow team improvement in the long term. Next year, with a healthy (knock on wood) Ben Simmons and Jerryd Bayless, this would relegate Sergio’s primary role to leading the Sixers’ second wave.
Given the talent at the top of the 2017 NBA Draft and Bryan Colangelo’s past general managing history, it is all but certain the Sixers will go after a point guard in the NBA Draft Lottery next year. I prefer the prospect of developing a point guard to pair with Joel Embiid and Simmons over making room for White Chocolate.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Sergio create in pick and roll and pick and pop sets with “The Homie” Dario Saric and Richaun Holmes. And for next year, keeping Sergio would help maintain this year’s surprisingly competent offensive bench unit. (2nd in Bench Scoring per NBA Stats). That said, that same bench unit is last in +/- with a whopping -113, and Sergio will definitely not help on the defensive end. He has not held up guarding anyone.
Ultimately, despite how his initial signing was creative and helps Sixers’ big man development this year, if he cannot help improve our defense, and risks curtailing the growth of a Markelle Fultz, Dennis Smith or Lonzo Ball, Sergio Rodriguez should drop dimes for another team next season.
Nov 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Dario Saric (9) and guard Sergio Rodriguez (14) talks during a break in the action in the second half against the Orlando Magic at Wells Fargo Center. The Orlando Magic won 103-101. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
“The Process” has been short on guard play to this point, and Sergio Rodriguez has been a good part of the excitement this season even though the team has barely won 22 percent of its games. For this reason, my gut says try to reach an extension in the range of a two year, $20 million contract if that’s what it takes.
All the while, the front office should be planning on drafting young ball handlers. The other point for keeping Rodriguez is that he is the best distributor who is healthy, working on the assumption that Ben Simmons could outplay all of the current Sixer guards.
Every good team has a player like Rodriguez, a mature and talented guard, who possesses an ability to set teammates up and score; the concern is Rodriguez would be a reserve on a talented team, and he has looked out of sync during the few chances he has had coming off the bench. Beyond the worry of adapting to a more limited role, one has to think about the head as well as the heart, and Jerryd Bayless has two years remaining on his contract for $9 million per, and T.J. McConnell is bargain basement at just over one million each of the next two years.
Even if McConnell goes down to the five minutes per game that would be more suitable for his ability, his salary would be worthwhile. The Bayless decision was made last offseason, and is probably one the club cannot unload. With the hope that Sixer brass will finally address the guard need at the top of the 2017 draft, and the current situation, expect Sergio Rodriguez to successfully play elsewhere next year.
Emotionally, I favor an extension, but logically, developmentally and economically, an extension would not represent the best interest of the team.
Nov 28, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Philadelphia 76ers guard Sergio Rodriguez (14) dribbles the ball against Toronto Raptors in the second half at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
In a vacuum, there is no way I want the Sixers to pass up on Sergio Rodriguez as long as they don’t have to pay him more than $15 million per season. With that said, there’s a lot that needs to happen in order for Sergio Rodriguez to stay.
I’m going to assume two things happen in a scenario that Sergio stays. The first is that the Sixers for some reason do not grab a point guard in the NBA Draft, and the second is that T.J. McConnell is no longer with the team due to the inability to fit him in with the roster any longer. I wish T.J. the best in this completely hypothetical scenario, but he’s just not fitting too well anywhere and just not producing to justify keeping him.
In this scenario, Sergio can work as a solid backup in the second unit to Ben Simmons. Simmons is likely going to be the starting point guard moving forward, and that will undoubtedly put Sergio on the bench.
I’m more confident saying Sergio will be the backup than Jerryd Bayless right now, because Bayless so far has not proven he is anything more than what Kendall Marshall was for the Sixers last season.
If Simmons, for some reason, fails as a point guard, the Sixers should have someone around to fall back on as a starting facilitating point guard, and Sergio could be that. I’m not expecting Simmons to fail as a point guard and primary ball handler, but that slot is the hardest one to play in the NBA.
I’d love to to see the Sixers re-sign Sergio. He’s fun to watch, and I think he’s great for team morale. The numbers back him up as well, for the most part. The bottom line is that there’s just so many moving parts with the Sixers moving forward, and although this answer is one that kind of weasels out of the question — only time will tell when it comes to Sergio.