The Philadelphia 76ers had a near-perfect offseason. The franchise brought back James Harden on a team-friendly deal and made some notable moves around the margins to improve their postseason chances. PJ Tucker was the most notable free agent addition and the Sixers also brought in Danuel House as a nice rotational piece. They also traded Danny Green and the 23rd overall pick for De’Anthony Melton in one of the more underrated moves of the offseason. While none of these were considered franchise-altering moves, it was clear the Sixers’ bench unit and supporting cast was not good enough last season. Daryl Morey clearly addressed this and it is a major reason for optimism heading into the 2022-23 season.
While the offseason should certainly be regarded as a success, the work to improve a roster can never stop. The Kevin Durant rumors continue to swirl but the team may simply lack the draft capital to ultimately get it done. Assuming this is the case, here is the one major move the franchise should make to complete their 2022 offseason.
The major move the Sixers needed to make in 2022 NBA offseason
Sixers Get: Jae Crowder, Reggie Bullock, Landry Shamet
Suns Get: Dorian Finney-Smith, Davis Bertans, 2025 Mavs’ first-round pick
Mavs Get: Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, Torrey Craig, 2029 Sixers 1st round pick swap
There have been major conversations about Tobias Harris’ fit on the Sixers for several years. He admittedly signed a contract that he has been unable to live up to but this should be more of a criticism on the Sixers for offering it than on Harris for accepting. The discourse surrounding the 30-year-old is far more negative than it should be, but there is still weight to the thought process that the Sixers could find better-fitting role players on cheaper contracts. The Sixers have been rumored to be shopping his lofty contract for quite some time and swapping Harris for financial flexibility makes a great deal of sense. This is especially true if the players that are brought in are cleaner fits alongside the Sixers’ stars.
Jae Crowder and Reggie Bullock are perfect examples of players who could fill this role. Each player is a terrific three-and-D role player who embodies the culture the Sixers are attempting to build. Adding them to a rotation alongside Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey would make them frightening postseason matchups. Landry Shamet would also be a positive addition as a long-range sniper and would be welcomed back to the franchise after initially being drafted by the Sixers in 2018.
Both the Suns and Mavericks should have the motivation to make some change for different reasons. The Suns had the best record in the NBA during the regular season before being blown out by 33 points in Game 7 in the second round of the playoffs at the hands of the Mavericks. On the other hand, the Mavericks outperformed expectations in a major way last year and made it to the Western Conference Finals. However, Dallas lost Jalen Brunson left in free agency to the New York Knicks which leaves a massive hole on their team. Adding a secondary shot creator, such as Tobias Harris, should hold great appeal. Matisse Thybulle would also provide a positive defensive spark which has been a need for the team as well.
While everyone is intrigued by the concept of making a major splash, making additions around the margins is just as important. The NBA has shifted from the Big-Three era to rosters that are more carefully constructed. Teams that sacrifice talent for fit have shown success as evidenced by the Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, and even Warriors championships in recent years. Each of these teams was undoubtedly loaded with talent, but they also put a major priority on adding the proper fitting role players to surround their stars and play their system. Having guys who make the game easier for the superstars is essential to the team’s success.
This would be the mindset on this type of deal for the Sixers. Joel Embiid pointed out following their postseason exit that the team lacks the toughness that is necessary for postseason success. Jae Crowder and Reggie Bullock would help with this greatly especially following the signing of PJ Tucker. This rotation of forwards would fit perfectly alongside Embiid and Harden and go a long way toward changing the mentality of the franchise.
The Sixers have been reliant on Joel Embiid’s energy and toughness to a fault in recent years. It is admirable the energy that Embiid oftentimes brings, however relying on the superstar to talk trash and dive across the floor is not a recipe for success. This is especially true considering Embiid’s injury history. Providing guys to do the dirty work whose skillsets fit alongside Embiid and Harden would be the major move the Sixers need to fully elevate them to championship contenders.