June 06, 2022
As the NBA Finals roll on and Sixers fans can only hope for someone else to take out their most hated rivals, it's time to dip back into the mailbag. That's unless you'd rather discuss Al Horford being good everywhere except for Philadelphia, which I don't particularly care to do myself.
It's the time of year when only some of the questions are about basketball, but that keeps it interesting for me, so thank you to everyone who did not ask a variation of, "What are the Sixers going to do this summer?" You are appreciated.
Prior to the Harden trade I was all for trading Tobias and getting pieces that would fit better around Joel. After the trade, Tobi just took off and found a niche role as a good defender and scorer. Do you think he is with the team when the season opens later this year?— Failsauce (@OSPFailsauce) June 1, 2022
Let's say, for example, they want to get off of his salary in an attempt to use the money on a new, shiny player who is hitting free agency this summer. If teams become aware you're hunting a big fish, the cost to park a big salary somewhere goes up by default, and the Sixers don't have a ton of appealing sweeteners to offer teams in those scenarios. Their first-round picks are tied up for the foreseeable future, they've signaled that Tyrese Maxey is close to untouchable, and the upside elsewhere is minimal. Other teams watched Matisse Thybulle this season just like the Sixers did. And he's probably the most valuable trade chip if you're looking at their depth pieces, which says as much about the rest of the group as it does him.
The problem with Harris is less about his role and ability to fill it than it is the sticker price, obviously. He seemed to embrace the position he was in with this group down the stretch, taking on tough assignments and increasing his shot volume from the perimeter. It's just very difficult for someone with his general skill set to offer value matching his contract. If he's going to be in a role where the Sixers need him to be a high-level defender and shooter at basically all times, that's asking him to be someone he has only recently shown he can be with any level of consistency. The shooting versatility, for example, is limited to catch-and-shoot looks and the occasional pull-up, nobody expecting him to be a dangerous shooter off of movement. Defensively, he has made real strides, but having him guard the best player every night is a big ask, and I'm not even sure he necessarily wants to do that, even if he said he embraced the challenge at the end of this year.
One of the other things I struggle with evaluating this team is that they also simply need James Harden and Joel Embiid to be better than they were when it really counted. Embiid at least has the excuse of injuries disrupting his playoff run, and if you wanted to be charitable to Harden, you could say that he still doesn't look all there while working through the hamstring injuries from a season prior. On the other hand, I could just as easily say that you basically have to assume at this point that Embiid won't get through a playoff run unscathed and that there's no guarantee Harden is ever going to reclaim his full burst on a regular basis. Putting the responsibility for where the team is at on players like Harris doesn't feel right to me. They would be better off not paying him a king's ransom, for sure, but it's ultimately not going to matter how much he makes or who they (theoretically) replace him with unless their tentpole stars are who the organization expects them to be.
If instead of Harris at around $37.6 million the Sixers had, for example, Bojan Bogdanovic and Terry Rozier combining to make around that much, does that fundamentally change their trajectory? Probably not, and I like both of those guys well enough. Perhaps there's a combination of players you could put together that would add up to a firm yes. But the realistic cost of getting them is probably out of their price range, as we discussed when OG Anunoby's name came up in the rumor mill recently.
Maybe next summer, when Harris will be on an expiring contract, you could put together some interesting scenarios that benefit Philly in the short term without costing them much (if anything) over the long term. And maybe Daryl Morey has more up his sleeve this summer than I'm giving him credit for currently. But it feels to me like an offseason where it's more realistic to expect smaller moves and tweaking of the depth pieces than it is another franchise-altering trade.
I see people asking to bring back Drummond/another vet— Էվըն 🇦🇲 Evan (@evanmaz1) June 1, 2022
Wouldn’t you want to force Doc to play Bassey and Reed early and see what we have in them? Bringing a vet back gives Doc another excuse not to play the young guys. Frankly we need the cheap contribution.
That's a good bridge to this topic...
Do you think Paul Reed could develop more as a power forward instead of just a backup center?— Bill (@BillW6251) June 1, 2022
The shot mechanics, though, are just all sorts of wonky. He's going to be able to get some easy buckets playing out of the dunker's spot if he's on the floor with another big, but in an Embiid-centric world, you want a guy who can do that and serve as a credible floor spacer, dragging players away from the paint so that Embiid can go one-on-one. Doc Rivers has said over and over again how much they emphasize spacing with this group, so the only way Reed is ever going to get serious consideration beyond center is if he offers real offensive utility.
There are definitely some teams who have shown you can play and succeed with two-big styles for portions of games, namely the Boston Celtics, who have played Al Horford and Robert Williams a lot together despite the latter being a total non-entity beyond around 10 feet. But Williams is also a much more dangerous vertical threat than Reed and one of the league's most impactful shot blockers, and he wasn't as foul prone as Reed even when he was more erratic to start his career. As an occasional changeup, I don't mind some Reed at the four minutes, but he has to figure out a way to be helpful on offense in that role if they're going to try it.
One more Reed-related question...
Do think Doc still maintains the same amount of control (playing style, rotations, FO signings) as he did at the start of the last year?— B(uck)Ball Mulligan (@frite_truite_) June 1, 2022
Truthfully, you'll find out pretty quickly how instrumental Rivers is in whatever they can accomplish in the offseason, because he's not going to be shy about telling you that himself. Rivers has been happy to make note of every player he helped steer toward the organization the last couple of years. And I don't mean that as a dig, either. Self-promotion and politics are a huge part of this business, and you have to look out for yourself when you know how quickly (and sometimes inaccurately) the rush for credit and blame can work against you.
Even if Rivers becomes noticeably less influential on the management side of things, I do think he'll continue to draw a firm-ish line as the coach directing the players on the floor. That's not to say he's not going to listen to anyone else, but he's of a firm belief that the locker room is his to command once the roster decisions are made, for better or worse. I don't think that's unreasonable.
Anything to the rumor out of Chicago, thybulle, Tobias, for levine— Joe (@jblo51) June 1, 2022
Hypothetically if Tyrese Maxey were an average 21st overall pick what position do you think the Sixers would be in right now? Would blowing it up be on the table?— Bobby Hallinan (@bhallinan43) June 1, 2022
Essentially, you're asking me how dire it would be if instead of Maxey the Sixers had a player who was about as good as the rest of their regular bench players. That would indeed be a huge problem, and I'm not sure what Philadelphia's out would be if that were the case. They would be praying for Harden to beat back father time with no clear openings otherwise. You'd have no exciting piece to offer in a trade to shake things up, minimal draft assets to move, limited salary flexibility, and a lot of bad vibes. Thankfully for everyone, we don't live in that part of the multiverse.
Rank these 5 combined with contract situation: Garland, Maxey, Haliburton, Simons, Brunson— Casey Young (@_CaseyYoung) June 1, 2022
After that, I would probably have Garland and Maxey in the two and three slots. Garland and Maxey are comparable as scorers but Cleveland's young guard is far ahead of him as a passer/playmaker, something that doesn't necessarily matter as much next to Harden but certainly matters in a ranking exercise. In fact, I am probably overrating Haliburton putting him at No. 1 currently, given the season Garland had last year. At the very least, Garland's offensive utility gives him a leg up here, as much as Maxey's three-level scoring ability excites you. Maxey being further away from making real money also can't be ignored, obviously.
I don't really want to be the guy paying big money to either Brunson or Simons, and those paydays are coming soon.
Just because I am binge watching Severance…which Sixers (players, coaches or execs) would have better results if they underwent the Severance procedure?— Alan Goodman (@AlanTheBaker) June 2, 2022
If anyone might benefit, I suppose it would be the coaches. If half of Doc Rivers can worry about playing golf and not coaching, maybe that would lean in Philly's favor.
top three fictional characters who you suspect are good at basketball despite having no evidence to prove it either way— Brian Grubb (@briancgrubb) June 1, 2022
What shows do you plan to binge in the offseason?— Bryan Toporek (@btoporek) June 1, 2022
Asking for someone who's gonna have a lot more free time come mid-July (hopefully)
Knowing myself, what I will actually end up doing is continuing to dig deeper into the movie backlog that I've been cutting down over the last couple of years of pandemic life. I've knocked out a lot of movies I wanted to get around to and hadn't previously — "Chinatown," "The Conversation," "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," and "The King of Comedy" as some examples — and I'll probably end up doing more of that than TV watching. As prestige TV trends more toward movie-length episodes, I find it even harder to justify regularly sinking 10-15 hours per season compared to sitting down for a movie once, though I get that people with kids don't have the same view on that.
Favorite movie of the year so far?— depressed sixers fan (@tzillagame) June 1, 2022
Elden Ring, game of the year no matter what, right?— Δx Δp ≥ ℏ/2 (@HeckPhiIIy) June 1, 2022
And did you start a new game plus, yet? lol
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