Furkan Korkmaz Impressing With More Minutes
The Philadelphia 76ers and their fans are awaiting the arrival of Jimmy Bulter, but in the meantime, another topic of conversation has swept across Sixers fans and we're not talking about Markelle Fultz's ugly free throw. After agreeing to trade Robert Covington and Dario Saric to Minnesota for Butler, the team's depth took a hit and even adding Jimmy doesn't exactly solve that issue.
In losing Covington and Dario, the team lost two of their primary catch-and-shoot three-point threats beyond JJ Redick. RoCo was shooting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc before the deal and Dario had just been heating up, hitting eight of his last 14 shots from three-point land. With those two gone, the Sixers have gotten a chance to give Furkan Korkmaz some extended minutes and needless to say, he's performed well in each of the two games since the trade.
Korkmaz, selected 26th overall in the 2016 draft, spent a year playing overseas before coming to Philadelphia without a spot in the team's rotation. A foot injury hindered a chance of that happening during the season as well. The Turkish guard impressed during a few Summer League stints and played well in the FIBA Qualifiers for his home country, but that wasn't enough to get him into regular minutes to start the season. After the team's eighth game, Korkmaz reportedly wanted to be dealt over lack of playing time.
"I just left my country to come here and to play here," Korkmaz told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I just want to play. Then I feel like I'm ready to play. That's why I looking for an opportunity to play."
The Sixers opted not to pick-up Korkmaz's third-year team option and he'll be a free agent at the end of the season, but could that move have been a mistake? A lot of people are starting to think so.
During the Sixers 112-106 loss in Memphis, Korkmaz tallied 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting, including 3-for-7 from beyond, to go along with four rebounds, two assists and two steals. On Monday night, during a 124-114 road win in Miami, he followed that up with a new career-high in points with 16 on 5-for-9 shooting, hitting 3-for-6 from three-point range. To a lot of people's surprise, Korkmaz was on the court to close the game. The Sixers are in need of guys that can hit shots, and while Korkmaz may be a liability on defense more often than not, if he can hit the long-ball consistently, he deserves more minutes. It's that simple.
On the other side of the coin, though, it may be too early to determine whether declining his option was the right choice. If Korkmaz continues to play well, then perhaps it will look bad, but it seems a little premature to make that judgement after two games for a guy who has mostly played garbage time in his 22-game NBA career. A consistent Korkmaz could open up some options for trades as well.
Although the Sixers didn't pick-up his option, a young player with the ability to shoot the three that will likely not cost much to re-sign could be an attractive trade chip prior to the deadline. Remember, despite the low cost of Korkmaz's option, the Sixers want(ed) to maintain maximum cap flexibility. Even after acquiring Butler, a few more trades could potentially open the door for another max contract this upcoming summer.