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Owner wants to keep Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler despite knowing it will get expensive

Brett Brown, Sixers

Philadelphia 76ers general manager Elton Brand told the media the franchise had every intention of keeping the core of four star players together shortly after acquiring Tobias Harris in a trade with the L.A. Clippers. The Sixers had previously acquired Jimmy Butler early in the season, but was in need of another floor-spacer in the lineup, making Harris a great fit.

Yet the implications of signing two players due for a max-level contract could be astronomical, booming the Sixers into a galactic salary tax implication that could see them spend as much as $500 million to keep the starting lineup the same as it is today.

According to John Gonzalez of The Ringer, owner Josh Harris knows that proposition could get expensive, but he’d rather have that as a problem that having to acquire talent through free agency.

“Josh Harris told us last week that the Sixers want to keep both Tobias Harris and Butler because players of that caliber are difficult to acquire. He’s right. The franchise learned that difficult lesson last offseason when they had oodles of cap space but no high-level free agents to ladle it out to. Retaining Harris and Butler would zoom them deep into the luxury tax for the foreseeable future and handicap how the Sixers can fill out the rest of the roster—especially because Simmons will soon be in line to sign an extension. That would be a lot of money wrapped up in four players. “We get it,” Harris stipulated. “It’s expensive.”

Harris and Butler could demand as much as a five-year, $188 million deal as nine-year veterans of the league entering their 10th season of service. Harris and Butler would make as much as $145 million over four years if they signed with any other team, missing out on that final year for a massive $43 million sum.

Unless both players are willing to give the Sixers a discount to keep this star core, it would balloon Philadelphia into a luxury tax predicament that would make it much tougher to re-sign J.J. Redick, who is coming off back-to-back one-year deals and likely seeking long-term security as a veteran.

Keeping important names on their bench would also prove increasingly difficult, especially considering that Ben Simmons is also due for a contract extension of his rookie deal before the start of the 2020 free agency period.