The Philadelphia 76ers, who are coming off a competitive postseason run that ended with a run in against the 2019 NBA Champion Toronto Raptors, have a busy summer ahead of them. Free agency kicks off at 6pm Eastern Time on June 30 and the Sixers will head in with only four players locked into a contract for the 2019-20 season. Thankfully, two of the four locked in are core pieces Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
A draft night trade that sent Jonathon Simmons helped clear a little more wiggle room, but there are plenty of names that Philadelphia will have to determine whether or not they would like to bring back. Overall, the 76ers have 10 cap holds on their books and an almost overwhelming amount of decisions to make.
As Philly prepares for free agency and seeks to remain as competitive as possible, here are three of their biggest needs.
Re-sign Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris
Last season, Elton Brand showed no hesitation as a fresh NBA General Manager and made two impactful trades acquiring both Jimmy Butler early on in the season and Tobias Harris before the trade deadline. All in all, bringing both of these talented players aboard cost many of the assets the team had accumulated over the previous season. Of course, they were going to have to cash those in for high-end talent at some point but doing so for two players in the final year of their contracts put serious pressure on team’s front office. The focus has to be on bringing back both players, if for no other reason, for the sake of not giving all those young players and picks away with nothing to show a season later.
Jimmy Butler appears to higher on the team’s priority list, and for good reason. The four-time All-Star wing was Philly’s second-best player in the playoffs last season and proved he is capable of helping with just about everything on the court- including providing some pretty clutch shooting. The Houston Rockets have emerged as of late as enamored suitors of Butler’s, making it clear that Brand may have his back against the wall with no option to retain Jimmy outside of a max deal.
Despite continual development over the last few seasons, Tobias Harris didn’t find quite the production with the Sixers he has shown with previous teams. This is quite possibly a product of typically being the fourth option when on the floor, but nonetheless concerning when considering handing him a hefty contract.
Regardless, Philadelphia is best served running it back with their two newest additions to their four-man core.
Acquire 3-point shooting
If it has been said once, it has been said a million times over: the 76ers need as much shooting as they can get on their roster. With the perimeter limitations of Ben Simmons, it is crucial that this team runs out as many shooters on the court as they can at any given time. Players like Embiid and Butler have some ability to shoot from deep, but reliance on them to provide outside offense undercuts the more impactful parts of their individual games.
Players like Danny Green, Wesley Matthews, Bojan Bogdonovic, and Wayne Ellington are among a long list of names available to the Sixers in free agency. They shouldn’t have too much trouble finding spacing at a reasonable price, but they need to keep this at the top of their shopping list.
Sign a backup big
Last season, the accompaniment of Boban Marjonovic in the Tobias Harris deal provided Philadelphia with the biggest player in the game. The problem, though, was there were too many times they couldn’t play him on the court longer than a few minutes.
Lack of a trusty back up center isn’t a new problem for this team. A rotation of Mike Muscala, Jonah Bolden, and Boban played most of the reserve minutes through 82 games last year, evidencing the need to find a better answer this summer.
If they needed any other reason, Philly should look no further than Embiid’s injury history. Spending a little on a quality backup down low could help limit Joel’s minutes down the stretch and preserve him for the playoffs. Dewayne Dedmon, Ed Davis, Richaun Holmes, and Robin Lopez provide possible options that would possibly be within the team’s budget.
Even at the risk of taking on a luxury tax bill, now is the time to spend to fill this roster out.