Sixers offseason preview: Three decisions facing Philadelphia

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Sixers offseason preview: Three decisions facing Philadelphia

Sixers

Sixers offseason preview: Three decisions facing Philadelphia

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The Philadelphia 76ers had a bounceback season after the disastrous finish they had last year. New organizational leadership helped propel this team that didn’t make many significant upgrades to the one-seed in the east. Daryl Morey cleaned up the roster to make the pieces fit better while Doc Rivers helped elevate Joel Embiid to an MVP-caliber player.

The Sixers’ season ended early to the Atlanta Hawks and they’ll now be looking ahead for the 2021-22 season. Despite their injuries, they could’ve beaten the Hawks if not for blowing multiple leads in recent games. They already have such a high payroll next season and are limited in ways to make significant improvements without trading one of their highest-paid starters.

There are many different ways they can go about managing their roster and all routes likely lead to having a very expensive roster in 2021-22 and beyond. Here are the biggest decisions they’ll have to confront early on.

Make a decision on Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

A lot of Philadelphia’s issues boils down to Ben Simmons offensively. The halo he emanated since his rookie year has finally worn off and his game is being picked apart. He is undoubtedly one of the league’s elite defenders but he’s taking a lot away from the Sixers on offense with his lack of shooting, especially at the free-throw line. It might finally be time for them to get a new guard or wing player that can shoot and create his own shot.

The emergence of Matisse Thybulle as an All-Defensive player could give the Sixers enough confidence to actually move on from Simmons. The question is, can trading Simmons net them a ball-dominant All-Star? For example, if Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal became available, the Sixers could offer Simmons, up to three future first-round picks, and a young player such as Tyrese Maxey for one of them.

That could be a lot to offer on top of Simmons but ultimately his trade value will be in the eye of the beholder. According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, general managers he spoke to are less interested in Simmons than they were prior to the playoffs and adds that he isn’t sure the Bulls would trade Zach LaVine for Simmons. The Sixers could have a hard time acquiring the right player they’re looking for while also sending Simmons to an interested team.

If they hold onto Simmons they might want to find that ball-dominant guard or wing that can facilitate the offense. Allowing Simmons to play off ball more could let him focus on his strengths which could take a lot of pressure off him. They could not acquire Kyle Lowry at the trade deadline and they can’t sign-and-trade for him due to hard cap limitations. Acquiring a player at the level of Lowry via trade could be exactly what the Sixers need to offset Simmons’ offensive limitations.

Figure out how much they want to spend

Danny Green, Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia finished the 2020-21 season $13.5 million over the luxury tax for a $25.1 million tax payment (which will likely be reduced by around $10 million). Ownership has clearly shown a willingness to pay the luxury tax but it remains to be seen if they will want to pay it again for this same exact roster construction. If the Sixers can’t make a significant upgrade to the roster, it’s not unreasonable for ownership to want to scale back costs for a team that couldn’t get past the second round in a top-heavy eastern conference.

The Sixers are entering the 2021-22 offseason roughly $2.7 million below the luxury with 12 players on the roster, including the 28th overall pick. Re-signing Danny Green or utilizing the mid-level exception would put them back into the luxury tax. They could waive George Hill prior to his guarantee date to generate a little more flexibility to re-sign Green and fill out the roster.

A Simmons trade could save Philadelphia a lot of money if they’re not trading for an equally expensive All-Star. They could also consider trading Tobias Harris for several less expensive rotation players but he has been important to the Sixers this season. It’ll be tough for them to get a player as good as Harris if they trade him since he’s earning $36 million in 2021-22. Trading one of Simmons or Harris might be Philadelphia’s best chance to fill out the roster without getting too deep into the luxury tax.

Sign Joel Embiid to the supermax

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid earned All-NBA 2nd Team honors, which qualified him for the designated veteran player extension, or the supermax. Embiid has two years left on his deal so he can add an additional four years projected at $190.6 million. This move is a no-brainer from the Sixers end. Expect them to lock up their superstar through 2027.

Embiid will earn $42.6 million in the first season of his supermax in 2023-24 while Harris will earn $39.3 million and Simmons will earn $37.9 million that season. All three would combine for $119.7 million. Maxey and the 28th overall pick are the only other Sixers under contract for that season. Just those five players combined would put the Sixers just $20 million below the luxury tax for that season. This is important because by the time Embiid’s supermax kicks in, Philadelphia will likely enter the repeater tax.

As an example of how expensive this team can get in the repeater tax, imagine this season’s Sixers payroll, which was in the luxury tax but with Embiid, Harris, and Simmons’ 2023-24 salaries substituted for their 2020-21 salaries. Philadelphia’s luxury tax payment would reach a minimum of $80 million in 2023-24 under those conditions. That’s a luxury tax payment roughly $60 million more than this season’s and an $80 million more expensive team when you combine payroll and luxury tax payments.

The looming repeater tax is important to keep track of because it could provide an unofficial timeline of contention for the Sixers. If they don’t win a title or reach the finals within the next two years, the front office could make major changes either to avoid the luxury tax or to shape the team in a way worthy of paying it.

2021-22 SALARY SITUATION

Guaranteed salaries: $119,618,393

Non-guaranteed salaries: $14,258,270

Total salary: 133,876,663

Luxury tax space: $2,729,337 below

Exceptions:

Taxpayer Mid-level: $5,890,000

Al Horford trade exception: $8,190,134

Tobias Harris

Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers

2021-22 salary: $35,995,950

Remaining salary guaranteed: $112,899,150 through 2023-24

Additional notes: Has a trade bonus worth the lesser of 5 percent or $5 million. It would’ve been voided if traded in either of the previous two seasons but he is now entitled to a portion of it if traded now that he has ten years of service.

Ben Simmons

2021-22 salary: $33,003,936

Remaining salary guaranteed: $146,684,160 through 2024-25

Additional notes: Has a 15 percent trade bonus that would be voided since his salary is already above the maximum salary for players with 0-7 years of service.

Joel Embiid

2021-22 salary: $31,579,390

Remaining salary guaranteed: $65,196,160 through 2022-23

Additional notes: Is eligible to sign the supermax this offseason. He wouldn’t be able to be traded for one year if signed.

George Hill

George Hill

2021-22 salary: $10,047,298

Remaining salary guaranteed: $1,275,491

Additional notes: His 2021-22 salary is $1,275,491 guaranteed but becomes fully guaranteed on August 3, 2021.

If retained, he becomes eligible to sign an extension that can add three additional years projected at $43 million.

Seth Curry

2021-22 salary: $8,207,518

Remaining salary guaranteed: $16,704,171 through 2022-23

Additional notes: Is eligible this offseason to sign an extension that can add three additional years projected at $45 million.

Matisse Thybulle

2021-22 salary: $2,840,160

Remaining salary guaranteed: $7,070,800 through 2022-23

Additional notes: Has a team option for 2022-23 that will likely be exercised before the start of the 2021-22 regular season.

Anthony Tolliver

2021-22 salary: $2,692,991

Remaining salary guaranteed: $0

Additional notes: His 2021-22 salary is non-guaranteed and becomes fully guaranteed on September 6, 2021.

Shake Milton

Shake Milton, Atlanta Hawks

2021-22 salary: $2,692,991

Remaining salary guaranteed: $3,844,456 through 2022-23 (player option)

Additional notes: Is eligible this offseason to sign an extension that can add three additional years projected at $45 million.

Isaiah Joe

2021-22 salary: $1,517,981

Remaining salary guaranteed: $1,517,981 (non-guaranteed in 2022-23)

Paul Reed

Paul Reed, Philadelphia 76ers

2021-22 salary: $1,517,981

Remaining salary guaranteed: $0 (non-guaranteed through 2022-23)

Additional notes: His 2021-22 salary in non-guaranteed and becomes fully guaranteed on the league-wide cutdown date.

2021 Pick No. 28

2021-22 salary: $2,023,800

Remaining salary guaranteed: $10,393,940

Danny Green (unrestricted free agent)

Cap hold: $19,975,609

Type of free agent: Early Bird

Mike Scott (unrestricted free agent)

Cap hold: $9,510,165

Type of free agent: Bird

Dwight Howard (unrestricted free agent)

Cap hold: $1,669,178

Type of free agent: Non-Bird

Furkan Korkmaz (unrestricted free agent)

Cap hold: $1,669,178

Type of free agent: Bird

Gary Clark (restricted free agent)

Cap hold: $1,489,065

Type of free agent: Non-Bird

Rayjon Tucker (restricted free agent)

Cap hold: $1,489,065

Type of free agent: Non-Bird

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