Philly was a buzz this season as the Sixers won 52 games and got all the way to the second round of the playoffs. Getting even further is what everyone in Philly thinks is right around the corner. Inevitably that’s led people to think big name free agents are the way to get over the hump. Should the Sixers fiercely pursue LeBron, Kahwi, or PG? Or is centering your squad around talented young guys who don’t (yet) have rings the better option?
The latter has the potential to create a Sixers dynasty. Adding LeBron (33 years of age), Kahwi (turning 27 later this month), or Paul George (28) makes the Sixers a better team immediately, but young stand out players could become full fledged superstars on the other side of one or two quick rings. The average age of the Sixers best young players (Simmons, Embiid, Fultz and Šarić) is 22.5 years!
These guys all played a part in the quantum leap the Sixers made during the 17-18 season, but let’s not forget they are so young and poised to get much better in the next few years. Throwing one of the three big names available this summer limits the Sixers long term flexibility. Max contracts take up a huge chunk of teams payrolls and the Sixers are already paying Joel Embiid big money next season.
We don’t even know how great Markelle Fultz can be yet. He played a total of 17 games including the playoffs and he showed some talent, but never got consistent meaningful minutes. It’s easy to forget, but this guy was the number one pick in the last draft. He’s got a sweet midrange game and has shown he can drive and finish, but gauging how he responds to the grind of a full season will really show how much Fultz brings to the table.
The Sixers are like the Thunder of old, back when Harden, KD and Westbrook led that team to a 2012 finals appearance and some outstanding seasons. Young stars made up a team full of youth, but in the Thunders case they didn’t stay together too long. Seeing the Sixers current core grow and develop would allow Philly to truly understand what they have and make moves for older stars at a later time (trade deadline next February or the 2019 off-season).
Klay Thompson will be a free agent in 2019, among others, and guys want to play with Embiid and Ben Simmons. Philly definitely needs to either resign or add new veterans going into next season. Jerryd Bayless is the oldest guy (29, turning 30 before next season) currently on the payroll for next season.
J.J. Redick, Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli would have to be inked to new deals for next season. At best the Sixers probably keep two of these guys, Redick can go to almost any team with the money to pay him. Philly can let Ilyasova walk and try to focus on bringing back the two perimeter players. Richaun Holmes can pickup more minutes at the four or five spot, he’s looked solid when he’s out there.
Whatever changes this summer in Philly won’t change the growing expectations. This team is on a steep upward swing and more folks are jumping on the Sixers bandwagon. Rightfully so as they’re well coached, love playing together and catapulting themselves towards the elite teams of the NBA.
People say the sky is the limit, well the Sixers limit might be in another galaxy! Watching them get to this point has been a blast and continuing The Process (pun intended) will be such a joy. What direction do you think the Sixers will go this off-season? Sound off in the comments!
The last time the Sixers won an NBA championship was 1983. Is a 21st century Sixers title happening soon?!