Home Sports Philadelphia 76ers 2024 NBA offseason preview: Prepare for plenty of change

Philadelphia 76ers 2024 NBA offseason preview: Prepare for plenty of change

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PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 2: Donte DiVincenzo #0 of the New York Knicks blocks Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half of game six of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on May 2, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this photograph, the user agrees to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

2023-24 season: 47-35

Season highlights: Every performance by Joel Embiid before the injury, particularly his 70-point game against the San Antonio Spurs on January 22.

With a feeling of sadness. The Sixers came into this season as the human manifestation of rock and roll. Embiid was scoring more than a point a minute, Tyrese Maxey was exploding, and new head coach Nick Nurse installed a refreshingly nuanced offensive system that allowed players more freedom than they had ever experienced under former coach Doc Rivers. They won 29 of their first 42 games and were moving toward a strong finish and an emphatic playoff run.

But since we can’t have nice things, Embiid went down with a knee injury and the season with him. The team took a nosedive in February and March, winning just 11 games during that period and finding themselves in the play-in tournament. Embiid returned late in the season and the Sixers reeled off eight straight wins to finish the year, but he was never the same Embiid as before. He dragged his leg like Tim Duncan after his prime, losing a lot of defensive flexibility and impact, which Knicks guard Jalen Brunson was able to exploit in the first round of the playoffs. Embiid also had to deal with a mild case of Bell’s palsy.

It was a crushing blow to the Sixers and NBA fans everywhere, given how fun, enthusiastic and overwhelming the team initially seemed. Even the midseason acquisition of elite shooter Buddy Hield didn’t change the picture.

Now the focus turns to the offseason, where the Sixers have positioned themselves to make many potential changes. Maxey, who will undoubtedly demand a max contract, has a low cap hit of just $13 million, allowing general manager Daryl Morey to make a max-salary offer to a free agent, or trade for someone who takes up real cap space. .

This summer will be a season of change for the Sixers, but hopefully it will also usher in a healthier Embiid. If the franchise lands a quality star to put alongside him and Maxey, the hope is that this will help the former MVP center take a backseat during the regular season to be healthy for the playoffs.

A reliable complementary star who can space the floor, defend and make plays. This basically describes Paul George, who the Sixers will likely call up. Is it fair to say of any team that their biggest need is Paul George? Maybe not, but this is where we are.

Who is guilty? Or worse yet, is there really anyone to blame? Rivers is gone, so is Ben Simmons and James Harden. The reigning MVP can supposedly take the lion’s share, but he played bravely with a bad leg and was still effective enough. Tobias Harris is a free agent and Philadelphia has cap space, but it appears the two sides will go their separate ways this summer. Could the 76ers be eyeing George? Or another high-octane winger to play alongside Embiid and Maxey? It’s hard to call spending another year without at least reaching the conference finals a success. Or that optimism is the predominant feeling facing summer.

But how much better can Embiid get? And if so, can he stay healthy long enough to be at his best come spring? The vibe is never immaculate here, but there’s no easy answer other than the nearly $60 million in cap space Morey will have to play with over the summer. – Vincent Goodwill

Nos. 16 and 41

Given that the Sixers will look to optimize cap space, having a player on a rookie contract for the foreseeable future isn’t a bad card to hold. In a perfect world, the Sixers draft someone they can hold onto for one year (meaning the player’s salary cap won’t be hit until he arrives in Philadelphia) who will come in to help them when they need depth.

The 76ers could look to add some size or a backup to Joel Embiid or another dynamic guard. In the first round, Philadelphia could look to add one of the Big East’s best guards in Providence’s Devin Carter, or the ACC’s best defensive guard, Virginia’s Ryan Dunn. In the second round, Marquette forward Osasere Ighodaro or North Carolina forward Harrison Ingram could add some size and defensive versatility. — Krysten Peek

Maxey’s original draft position (21st in 2020) provides tremendous wiggle room to keep the aforementioned cap hit small, setting it at around $13 million. With only Embiid and Paul Reed under contract for next season, the Sixers could wipe the slate clean and build an entirely new roster if they so choose.

More realistically, since the free agency market is not as hot, they will try to identify a star, like George, and after that signing they will re-sign Maxey, since they can go over the limit to retain their own player. This will arguably be the biggest summer of Morey’s career.

Key free agents

Tyrese Maxey (RFA)

Tobias Harris (UFA)

Buddy Hield (UFA)

De’Anthony Melton (UFA)

Kyle Lowry (UFA)

Have a team that allows Embiid to stay healthy longer, while minimizing his responsibilities. Scoring in the mid-30s while also being the defensive anchor is simply asking too much.

Finally, Harris gets out of there. After one of the worst max deals in recent memory, the Sixers have considerable financial flexibility this offseason. Retaining Maxey is the top priority, and it will be interesting to see how Morey and general manager Elton Brand choose to build around their two stars, knowing that recent iterations have failed, especially with Embiid sidelined. – Dan Tito

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