What is the Future of the Philadelphia 76ers?
Here we are just a few days, after being eliminated in the playoffs. Ultimately, questions about the future of this team are already being asked. Everyone, wants to play GM, and have the answers. Often things like this become expected after a run that fans, and on lookers believe was to short. Many thought after a 16 game winning streak to close, out the season, there would be more. More so, after a 5 game win in what was ultimately, a physical series, the expectations had been set. We should advance through round 2 against a Boston team sans their 2 best players. Especially, when we consider, they just had a difficult time disposing of the Bucks in 7 games. Expectations were high, for an all out war and an exhibition showing why LBJ should come to Philly.
But sometimes, things do not go as expected. I thought this would be Embiid’s coming out party, and the team would win in 6. Admittedly, I was wrong. No harm in being wrong, more importantly, I admitted to it. The run left us all seeing, these team, for what it is, which is not as good as we thought. Mismatches were exposed, lack of athleticism was shown, and the inability to create shots was a huge problem.
What are the options going forward?
The youth movement, this year, and the process should us promise. Joel Embiid has a skill set, that could lead to him being the best man in the league, sooner rather then later. Ben Simmons, although lacking a jump shot, still has generational talent. Personally, I believe in the growth of Ben Simmons, and what he can be, but he has to put in the work. We won 52 games this season, and a playoff round, and the offense, was basically a shell of what it could be.
Let’s be fair, and call it what it is. This team this years offensive options were limited too, Embiid in the low post and the three point line. The three point line is a great tool in the NBA if you are hitting your shots. When the shots are not falling, it can be a huge problem. Especially if the opposition (Boston Celtics) can defend it well. Much credit should be given to them in this series, for exposing all of these issues. They did not double Joel for the most part, they defended the three point area, knowing that the Sixers, are a pick and pop shooting team, and took away Ben Simmons, passing lanes. Here is what we know, we lack wing players, especially those who can create their own shot.
JJ Redick, Marco Bellinelli, Robert Convington, Ersayn Illaysova, all of these are pick and pop players. They are also defensive liabilities against athletic wing players. The future for this team, should come down to upgrading this position.
What does this mean for the Future???
The three main names, being thrown around are Lebron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George. All 3 of these players, are currently better, then our Wings, and they have the track record to prove it. Looking into the future, of this team, they all seem like viable options, although some would be easier to acquire than others. Lets take a look at each, and what it might take, to get them to Philadelphia, and continuetheprocess.
Kawhi Leonard’s Future
Obviously the Spurs and Kawhi have been at odds, this season. It also does not take much to see that Kawhi Leonard, is an interesting story to say the least. Sure, when on the court, he is a dominate, wing player, and depending on who you ask, the best defensive player in the NBA. However, this year, he played 9 games. His future, in San Antonio, is all but up in the air at this time.
Let’s know look at his contract, shall we.
He signed a max contract in the 2015-2016 season. a 5 year 94.3 million dollar deal. The problem now is after the new TV Contract money, and his years served with one team, he is technically now in line for a raise. That seems to be the hold up in him wanting to commit to a long-term future in San Antonio. Along with that playing under his current contract, he does not have a player option to use until after next year.
For the Sixers, this would require some sort of trade. That trade will most likely, need to include, a 1st round Pick, Markelle Fultz and Dario Saric. I like Dario, and I believe he is part of the future of this team. It is still to early to give up on Fultz, he was not on the court enough this year, to see he is a bust or not. More importantly, do you want to trade young pieces, who are at a relatively low cost right now, and in control for next several years, for a player, who may or may not want to play for your franchise. I am all about getting paid, but this seems like a ton for a guy who we do not even know if he wants to play or not.
Paul George’s Future
The future of Paul George is also currently interesting. Last off season, George was dealt from Indiana to the Oklahoma City Thunder. After also acquiring Carmelo Anthony from the Knicks, and already having Russel Westbrook, the Thunder thought they could build a big 3 and compete out west. This plan failed rather early. Yes, the team did make the playoffs, but was disposed by early in the first round by an upstart Utah Jazz team. George does have a player option this year, and could opt out. He is set to make 20.7 million dollars next year. The rumor has, and always has been, that he was going to join his hometown Lakers. The Lakers are a young team, building around Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram as their future. Some have confirmed, this is going to happen quickly, like as soon as the free agency period begins. But this remains to be seen.
Here is what we know about the Lakers, they are in a rebuild, but have always been looked at as an elite franchise. More importantly, they have a good amount of money coming off the books this year. The Lakers will have a lot of money and will look to get back to competing in the Western Conference. As I stated, a few things we know about the Lakers, they are a proud franchise, are a young team right now, and will have cash to spend. There has always been talk of Paul George, and Lebron James uniting in LA, but I do not see LBJ ever leaving the east.
Lebron James’s Future
Enter then elephant in the room, and that being the future of Lebron James and the rest of the NBA. As you know, Lebron James is the best player in the NBA, by far, and for some reason, some people in this city have LBJ hate and do not want him on this team. Let me start by telling you, you’re all fucking crazy. Now lets move forward, and take a look at this in the proper perspective. Lebron James is now 4 wins away from reaching his unheard of in today’s NBA, eighth straight NBA Finals appearance.
Lebron has always wanted to be the first billion dollar athlete, as well as own a team one day. He has said as much openly. There have always been reports, of LBJ being unhappy with the direction of the team, and being upset with ownership about the direction of the team. As we know Lebron, keeps his decisions in check, and although people close with the situation say they know, they never really know until LBJ ultimately makes his decision. Earlier, in this week, Chris Broussard reported that the king would like to play off the ball. The truth of the matter is no one knows if this is true or not, but it would make sense, as it would extend his career. However, it is not as to accept that role either, especially when you have been doing it for so long.
What does all this mean? We know that Lebron can walk away from Cleveland after this year, and become a free agent no questions asked. Ultimately, his playoff future, unknown yet, but I am going to bank on the King making it to the finals for the 8th straight time. Nothing, I have seen in the playoffs, including the play of the Celtics, as a team, tells me they are a threat to the leagues greatest player. But if Lebron is unhappy in Cleveland, wants to earn a billion dollars, and play off the ball, is there a better option then Philadelphia.
Think of a starting 5 that would be as follows, Simmons, Fultz, LBJ, Saric, Embiid. You would be young, you would be able to dominate, and with the minutes LBJ continues to play, you would have at least 1 if not 2, generational players on the floor the entire game. This idea gives me chills. If 4 years, 160 million dollars is too much money for you to wrap your brains around, do not worry about, its not your money. More importantly, if you think Lebron ruins chemistry on teams, well that fact makes no sense. How can a player who has made the finals this many consecutive times, mess up chemistry. If you think, that bringing, him here, ruins the future of the Sixers, I also can not fathom this idea.
The King to the Sixers ultimately makes them the best team in the East, easily. Your core would be young, the leadership he provides would be invaluable. The entire team would see the work ethic of the best every single day. I have yet to hear a valid argument in which having him here, does not instantly make the team better. If you have one leave a comment, but you won’t be able to.
The Sixers Future
If we learned, anything in the playoffs this year, it was two things. First, we learned, in the future and going forward, this team needs to learn how to close out games, particularly in the playoffs, which is a different brand of baseball. Secondly, we learned this team needs more contribution from the wing players, as it is hurting the growth of both Ben and Joel. We also learned, that there is improvement needed as touched on earlier, from both of these players for future seasons.
Ideally, any of these three players, make the Sixers better, it just becomes a matter of cost. Bringing Kawhi, would require a trade of potentially core pieces, this idea seems not likely to me. Paul George although a good player does not give you the leadership, or ability to take over like Lebron does. To me for the Sixers, the future decisions seem simple.
Go and get a valid wing asset. Get the best available. Money is not an issue with this team. You either make JJ take a pay cut, or you part ways, that was a one year low risk contract. If your bench, includes spot gap minutes, for guys like JJ, McConnell, and RoCo, now you seem much more formidable. While all of these players are upgrades, the only thing I want to see next season is this.