The Philadelphia 76ers are coming off their second straight 50-win season and appearance in the second round of the playoffs with similar results. The era of “The Process” is officially over and yet, they have nothing to show for it but continued hope. While teams like the Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards continue to wallow in misery, this was the season where the 76ers were to make that push. They failed and now as they move to the offseason, they have more questions than solutions at this point.
What will they do with Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris? Both players came to the 76ers this season with hopes they would be the missing link to a title run. Both players were a gamble as each has the option to bolt this summer. If this happens, the 76ers are right back at square one. In grabbing Butler form the Minnesota Timberwolves, the 76ers gave up two young players in Robert Covington and Dario Saric. While neither was All-Star ready, both players played a specific role in the teams’ resurgence.
Now, Elton Brand must decide who stays and who goes but he must keep the ship heading in the right direction. With Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as the cornerstones, the 76ers still need a third option on the offensive end. Butler was a great addition but is he worth a max deal? Letting Butler go will open the door for other players who can help the 76ers win. Not saying that Butler can’t but the truth is, it hasn’t worked yet.
This summer will be a telling sign for the team moving forward. Philadelphia has been labeled a hot destination for free agents but which ones? The Philadelphia 76ers are in win-now mode. There is no rebuilding going on there. Brand must choose wisely.
Here are 3 key free agents the Philadelphia 76ers should consider.
The Philadelphia 76ers are in dire need of either a shooting guard or point guard this offseason. With the possibility that they could sign Jimmy Butler to a max deal, the Sixers may want to look elsewhere just in case. One of their objectives should be to offer a contract to Kemba Walker. Adding Walker will put the 76ers as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. Depending on what happens with Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors, they could become the team to beat in the NBA.
During the 2018-19 regular season, Kemba averaged 25.6 points and 5.9 assists while shooting .434 percent from the floor. Scoring-wise, this was easily his best season as a pro. Walkers’ production fell a bit due to his increased role as the leader but he did manage to secure his second straight All-Star nod. A max contract will indeed be the price tag but the Sixers’ backcourt would be considered one of the best in the NBA.
The future of Kevin Durant is a hot topic right now. No matter what happens in the NBA Finals, many believe that Durant is leaving the Golden State Warriors. The rumors swirling has Durant heading to either the New York Knicks or the Brooklyn Nets. While no one knows which to be true, the Philadelphia 76ers could have a get shot at landing the former MVP.
Pairing Durant with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid will give the 76ers their very own formidable Big 3. Yes, a core of Simmons, Butler, and Embiid was supposed to be just that, but they never were able to fully mesh. If the Sixers let Butler walk this summer, Durant is their only choice as he’s the most lethal scorer in the NBA. Giving Simmons an outside threat will do wonders for his game and will create more space for Embiid in the post.
If the 76ers are willing to go cheap and save money, they could go after Cousins. This season, Cousins has played as if he’s no longer the same player who averaged 25.2 points and 12.9 rebounds during the 2017-18 season. Injuries have taken the explosiveness away from Cousins and with that, an opportunity for a max deal. This is why this would be a great pickup for the 76ers. Adding Cousins on a cheap deal will give the 76ers more cap space to possibly resign Butler and go provide more scoring and defense to their second unit.
If Tobias Harris leaves (as many expect) the 76ers could land Cousins on a cheap one-year deal and give them one of the best frontcourts in the NBA. It would appear that Cousins is not 100% during the NBA Finals but that does not mean he won’t be by the start of next season. He and Embiid in the same frontcourt will be lethal as that will allow Embiid to continue to pick his spots from the perimeter knowing he has another rebounder for the offensive boards.