The Sixers have failed to make it past the Conference Semi-Finals for the fifth consecutive season. After the dark years of Trusting the Process, the team has been unable to grow into genuine title contenders. With Joel Embiid in the prime of his career and coming off a historic season, the franchise must capitalize now. This has been a crucial offseason as Daryl Morey looks to right the franchise’s wrongs and build a contender around the superstar.
It was an eventful offseason for Philly. The most significant storyline to follow has been James Harden’s contract situation. After trading for the former MVP last season, the franchise had fully set its focus on competing for a championship. It was clear that Harden did not look exactly like himself last season and it is difficult for a team to click in half of a season. The question was never if James Harden would be back, but rather at what price. The 10-time All-Star endeared himself to the Philadelphia faithful by opting out of his $47 million player option and electing to take less money. The 33-year-old has not officially announced his deal yet, but this willingness to take less has given the Sixers the necessary flexibility to round out the rest of the roster.
"I told Daryl to improve the roster, sign who we needed to sign and give me whatever is left over… This is how bad I want to win. I want to compete for a championship… I'm willing to take less to put us in position to accomplish that."
🗣️ James Harden
(via @ChrisBHaynes) pic.twitter.com/J6Yflk7z2K
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) July 18, 2022
There is a lot to like about the Sixers’ offseason so far. The team flipped Danny Green and the 23rd overall pick for a young and athletic guard in De’Anthony Melton. They also added Danuel House in free agency who will prove to be a better two-way wing to add to the rotation. Daryl Morey also made a splash by signing reigning G-League MVP Trevelin Queen who is expected to provide a spark off the bench. However, there is one move that stood out and will have a greater impact on the Sixers’ potential title chances.
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Sixers: Philadelphia’s best move of 2022 NBA offseason
In one of the earliest offseason moves, the Sixers handed PJ Tucker a three-year deal worth $33 million. While some have complained about Tucker’s age and the price of the contract, this is a huge addition to the team. Tucker has been a rumored target of the Sixers for several years. He is an efficient corner three-point shooter and a versatile defender. His pugnacious attitude will be loved by Philadelphia and is needed on this Sixers roster. Tucker played a crucial role in the postseason success of the Miami Heat last season. This was the same Miami Heat team who fell just a game short of the NBA Finals and sent the Sixers packing in the second round.
Following this loss, Joel Embiid specifically shouted out the importance of PJ Tucker. The Sixers have struggled to hold up to the playoff toughness in recent years. Bringing in the veteran will help change this in a major way. PJ Tucker has proven to be reliable in the postseason and plays with a grit and toughness few guys can match. This type of level of play will change the standard around the team in a necessary way.
People can say the Sixers overpaid for PJ Tucker, but when your superstar specifically references him by name when talking about what the Sixers are missing you act on it
“Since I’ve been here, I’d be lying if I said that we’ve had those types of guys…We never had P.J. Tucker.” pic.twitter.com/dXfZMsyveF
— Pick Swap Podcast (@PickSwapPod) July 1, 2022
While the contract may be more than most would have hoped to pay, it is the nature of the market. The bottom line is if the Sixers wanted to make the addition they had to step up and pay. At 37-year-old, having concerns about handing out a three-year deal are justifiable. However, the Sixers have the intention of competing for a title this coming season. This move should be looked at on a year-to-year basis and Tucker increases the Sixers’ title chances immediately. Paying a 40-year-old PJ Tucker $11 million may not sound great, but if there is a ring on each player’s finger it is much easier to swallow.
Stars certainly set the ceiling of a team, but it takes the proper role players to reach this. PJ Tucker has proven to fit well alongside James Harden due to their time in Houston and was clearly desired by Joel Embiid. Danny Green proved to be a terrific role player during his time in Philadelphia. PJ Tucker is capable of providing a similar three-point gravity and has much more to his overall game. His defensive versatility will play an especially key role moving forward.
The Sixers may not have made as large of a splash as some people hoped, but this offseason should be considered a major success. The team’s bench has been a source of concern for several seasons. Daryl Morey has clearly put a focus on fixing this and has succeeded in this goal. Allowing the roster to have more time to develop together rather than switch gameplans is the right decision. With new role players in place and another year of the core of the team together, expect big things from the Sixers.