What’s up, peeps? It’s always great to chat about the 76ers.
There’s a lot to talk about, from James Harden opting out so the Sixers could sign PJ Tucker in free agency to Paul Reed and Isaiah Joe standing out for the Summer Sixers.
The team will head to training camp in late September determined to win the 2023 NBA title. However, they’ll have to contend with the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat among others just to get out of the Eastern Conference.
But the Sixers added much-needed toughness with the additions of Tucker, Danuel House and De’Anthony Melton, who should all help them compete against the conference’s elite squads. The question is, can they add another piece, someone capable of replacing the championship pedigree than Danny Green provided?
I’m sure we’ll talk more about those storylines heading into the season. For now, let’s get this mailbag started.
Answer: Thanks for the solid question, Doc. Let me just say that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sixers made another big roster move before the start of the season. If it doesn’t happen then, I expect Daryl Morey, the team president of basketball operations, to make a move before the February trade deadline.
It’s no secret that Morey wants to acquire swingman Eric Gordon from the Houston Rockets via a three-team trade. I think we could get a better idea of what a third team would be willing to offer after Kevin Durant’s trade request from the Brooklyn Nets is settled. One has to assume that most potential trade partners want to keep assets in place until they have a clearer picture of what the Nets will do with Durant. The same can be said about the Utah Jazz, who are open to trading Donovan Mitchell.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sixers make another move at some point this season.
» READ MORE: Sources: Sixers trying to orchestrate three-team deal that would land Eric Gordon, ship Matisse Thybulle
Question: How much do you think the rest of the league values Tobias Harris? He’s basically a third-fourth option for the Sixers. Does the rest of the league think he can be a second fiddle like the Detroit Pistons/Los Angeles Clippers days? Or does the rest of the league think he’s a fourth option? — @CraigWarringto8
Answer: Thanks for the question, Craig. I think the answer depends on the team. Harris could go to the Thunder and Pistons or any other young team, play-in tourney squad or lottery team and be a first or second option. He would probably put up solid numbers and have a great chance to make the All-Star team. However, I think he’s viewed more as a third or fourth option on a championship caliber team. That’s not a knock on him. It’s just what it is. Take the Golden State Warriors for example. He wouldn’t supplant Steph Curry or Klay Thompson as one of the top two options. The same could be said about the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo or Khris Middleton.
Yet, he was the man on less star-studded teams in Detroit and the Clippers, and had a hand in those teams playoff pushes.
When you look back at his 2 ½ seasons in Detroit, the Pistons made one postseason appearance. As the East’s eighth seed, they were swept by the top-seeded Miami Heat in 2016. He then spent parts of two seasons with the Clippers before being traded to the Sixers on Feb. 6, 2019. Los Angeles had a 30-25 record at the time he was traded. The Clippers went on to finish with a 48-34 record and the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Question: How will the Philadelphia Rockets (in their current form) possibly be able to overtake the Celtics or Bucks? — @Everyman691
Answer: What’s up, Everyman? Ouch on the Philadelphia Rockets moniker. But on a serious note, I think the ingredients to beating those teams are simple. Joel Embiid must stay healthy and continue to play at an elite level while Harden has to show a better version of himself than he did last season to overtake the Celtics or Bucks.
» READ MORE: Sixers will be tougher with new additions, but they need more
Embiid has to play at an elite level and be 100% health wise or close to it during the postseason. Meanwhile, Harden must be the second scoring option to Embiid and the closer he was expected to be when the Sixers acquired him in the Feb. 10 trade from the Nets. If not, the Sixers will have a tough time overtaking Boston and Milwaukee, two teams that also improved in free agency.
Answer: Thanks for the question, Raymond. The starting lineup and rotation will ultimately be decided based on performance. However, the obvious picks as the projected starting lineup are Harris, Tucker, Embiid, Maxey and Harden. Tucker will draw the tougher forward defensive assignment over Harris.
In regards to the rotation, I would have to say Melton, House, Matisse Thybulle, Georges Niang, Reed and Shake Milton, in no particular order, will be the players off the bench.
Answer: Thanks for the question, Tracey. The Sixers need to trust that he’ll come back with a shot. Thybulle has been putting in work this summer and has shown improvement on his jumper. It’s premature to give up on him. As a two-time All-Defensive second-team selection, he’s one of the league’s best defenders.
This is the first summer that he’s been able to focus on his offensive game. Once he gets his shot together, Thybulle will become one of the NBA’s best three-and-D players. The Sixers could regret trading him.
Answer: Hello, Alyssa. I’m not going to say this move is necessary, but I think the Sixers would part ways with coach Doc Rivers if they suffer another second-round exit. I think that would be the first move. Right now, they’ve added toughness in free agency and via a trade. Harden is taking a pay cut to clear up cap space. Embiid is one of the top five players in the league. So Rivers would be the fall guy if the Sixers don’t get out of the second round.
After that, the Sixers may also look to make some changes in the front office and more alterations to the roster.