Sixers Mailbag – Sunday, June 11th, 2017

Updated: Sunday, June 11, 2017 07:44 AM

“It seems very unlikely that Furkan Korkmaz would actually come over and play for the Sixers. But we’ve talked at length about the benefits of him getting into an NBA-caliber training program. And with the two new roster spots for players who can go to and from the G League, I think Korkmaz would be a great candidate to fill one of those. Thoughts? From a purely competitive standpoint, is the Turkish league better than the G League? Which would be better for his development?”
— Ezra

First off, a little bit of clarification on the rules.

The roster size has not been bumped up to 17, at least not without qualification. There are still only 15 roster spots for NBA contracts. The difference, now, is that there are also two spots reserved exclusively for two-way contracts.

Since Korkmaz was a first round pick, if he came over he’d be under the rookie scale contract. Meaning he would receive his slotted rookie salary, with two guaranteed years followed by two option years.

The reason this distinction is important is it means Korkmaz would occupy one of the 15 roster spots for NBA contracts, not one of the two additional spots for two-way contracts. This is true regardless of how much time Korkmaz would theoretically spend in the D-League.

(Ed. note: I’m not calling it the G-League. I’m just not). 

There’s a lot of restrictions on how much time two-way contracts can spend in the NBA, which limits their use quite a bit. Think of these spots as “break in case of emergency” slots to be used when injury handcuffs a roster. “We’ve had a bunch of injuries and we’d like to get somebody up we’re familiar with.” The other main use is that for late 2nd round picks / undrafted types, it allows the D-League to offer more competitive salaries, so maybe some fringe NBA players will elect to stay stateside rather than go overseas, and a team like the Sixers with a direct 1-to-1 D-League relationship can get more information on who they are as a person and a teammate.

But it’s more complicated than just getting two more roster spots. Guys under NBA contracts can’t be used for these spots, and you’re going to have a limited pool of guys willing to agree to two-way contracts. tl;dr: Korkmaz will use up one of the 15 NBA roster spots.

From a development standpoint, the competition in the TBL has some benefits, mostly in terms of consistency of teammates and style of play, and the experience of the competition he’d be playing against. The Turkish League is a professional basketball league with a fairly rich history, with Efes consistently among the best teams. The D-League is still, by and large, a showcase league. It might be a little bit old school / hot takey to say so, but the TBL might offer a better brand of team basketball to learn under, especially for an off-the-ball role player who never projects to dominate the basketball as the focal point of an offense.

That being said, there are obviously benefits to coming stateside, even if that means spending most of his time with the 87ers. The strength and conditioning program, for one, especially for a prospect like Korkmaz who so desperately needs to add bulk to his frame.

He’d also be under an organization and coaching staff fully vested in his development, whereas Efes is under no delusion about his long-term future with the club. They know he’s going to come to the NBA when he has the opportunity to do so. They’re also looking to compete for a championship, a goal which 20 year old kids generally don’t add value when working towards, whether that’s in the NBA or the TBL. In the NBA, you give a guy like Korkmaz playing time because you think that will help maximize what he can contribute in his prime. Korkmaz isn’t going to be with Efes during his prime, so there’s far less incentive for them to deal with his rookie mistakes and growing pains, and no real incentive to put him in a bigger role than his experience might otherwise warrant.

Playing time for young kids is an investment, and one in which the Sixers are in position to reap the rewards of, not Efes. Hence his being loaned to Banvit this past year.

You’ve seen the Sixers take both paths over the last few years, with Dario Saric developing in Turkey until he was 22, and with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot coming over right away. A lot of that was situational, but Dario now being one year into his rookie contract rather than three has considerable financial advantages, mostly in getting close to his prime while still under that steal of a rookie contract, but also in delaying his 35% max eligibility until he’s on the other side of 30, on whatever percent chance he develops into the kind of player to warrant that.

It’s hard to argue against how Dario developed, but his situation was also significantly different than Korkmaz’s, since Dario was further along in his development and was a key to Efes’ game plan, and thus more likely to get a significant role even in spite of their knowledge that he was going to come over when he could. Guys like Korkmaz and Luwawu-Cabarrot were unlikely to get as much playing time / opportunity on a strong club like Efes, and in a strong league like the TBL, so getting them over here under the tutelage of the Sixers staff made more sense.

Add it all up, I’d prefer Korkmaz here, even if it starts that rookie scale clock a little bit sooner than you’d like. The question is much more financial in nature, though, with a buyout of $2 million that the combination of the Sixers’ max allowed contribution ($675k) + Korkmaz’s rookie scale contract (~$1.2m max) is unlikely to reach.

This is part of the reason that Korkmaz fell, because once he fell beyond a certain point in the draft (and, thus, his max earning potential fell thanks to first round picks being under a scale) you had to be willing to commit to stashing him overseas for a couple of years. Perhaps Efes might be willing to renegotiate his buyout, but short of that his presence in Philadelphia for the 2017-18 season is unlikely, in my opinion.

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Derek Bodner

Derek Bodner is a credentialed reporter covering the Philadelphia 76ers independently for He is also a college basketball scout for, and an NBA contributor for The Ringer. Contact Information: / @DerekBodnerNBA

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