July 09, 2023
The Sixers are retaining Paul Reed after matching an offer sheet he signed with the Utah Jazz, PhillyVoice can confirm on Sunday evening. Reed returns to the Sixers on a three-year, approximately $23 million deal as the runaway favorite to backup Joel Embiid next season.
As a result of the Sixers matching Reed's offer sheet, the fourth-year big will have the right to veto trades for exactly one year, as is the case for any restricted free agents who see their team match an offer sheet. The most notable detail for Reed's contract emerged on Saturday afternoon, with the final two years of the deal becoming fully guaranteed if the Sixers were to make the second round of the playoffs this season. Despite that clause, the Sixers opined that Reed was too valuable to let go.
Reed, who emerged as Philadelphia's primary option behind Embiid for the stretch run last season, was viewed throughout the offseason as their most likely free agent to return. Coming off a strong close to the season, with career-best numbers as a finisher and growing playoff experience, Reed and his representation chose to hit the open market and see what he could find before ending up back in Philly. All along, people with the Sixers insisted that the plan was for Reed to be back.
Returning as one of four big men to the Sixers' frontcourt — a group including MVP Joel Embiid, new signee Mo Bamba, and the returning Montrezl Harrell — one of the big questions facing Reed and Philadelphia's coaching staff is whether his role will expand on this new deal. Reed has shown defensive versatility as a switchable big to lend hope to the idea that he could play some minutes at the four next to Joel Embiid, offering secondary rim protection alongside their star center. However, there are questions to answer about what his role would look like on offense in that scenario, with Reed being close to a non-entity as a shooter despite some promising results at lower levels.
So long as Reed can hold down the backup center position, he might be worth the new contract and then some. Backing up Embiid is a tricky proposition, one that counts on a player to thrive in a 12-minute role one night before playing starter's minutes on another evening, and while Reed has lacked consistency early in his career, that began to come with increased playing time last season. The key for Reed will be to retain the things that have helped him produce, namely his motor and aggressiveness, while keeping himself out of foul trouble simultaneously. There were stretches of more disciplined basketball for Reed in 2022-23, and the expectation will be for him to continue building on that.
Reed's return is perhaps more meaningful for the guys who already signed to play backup minutes in the frontcourt. Mo Bamba still offers a little something different as a potential stretch five option, with a blend of traditional rim protection and floor spacing that makes him a neat alternative to Reed. It's Montrezl Harrell's place on the team that continues to make little sense, with Harrell likely hanging out on the end of the bench outside of emergency situations.
There will be potential ramifications for Philadelphia's plans next summer with Reed back on the roster, as this adds another $7+ million in salary to the cap sheet, save for a scenario where they fail to make the second round of the playoffs. As the Sixers gear up to try to add another max player to the roster next summer, it remains to be seen if Reed's salary will impact those plans. The Sixers evidently decided that Reed's present-day impact was worth dealing with that complicating factor.
This story is developing...
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