Philadelphia 76ers: The time for waiting is now over

Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images
Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images /

With Jimmy Butler fully integrated and Joel Embiid playing like an MVP candidate, it’s time for the Philadelphia 76ers to take themselves seriously.

This is not simply a rant following a huge loss. Although the Philadelphia 76ers received a 27-point beatdown from the San Antonio Spurs, that’s merely the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The weaknesses regarding this roster are intolerable now. It’s time for Elton Brand and his crew to take action.

Joel Embiid is shouldering a huge load on both ends of the floor, and he’s doing it so well that the Sixers play 13.2 points better per 100 possessions with him on the floor. Jimmy Butler‘s integration has been smoother than most could imagine, and his shot creation has really opened up the offense when he’s cooking.

Even Ben Simmons, despite all the criticism he receives, has made a leap; since Butler’s debut on Nov. 14, Simmons is averaging 16.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game, with a lot more aggressiveness in transition. He and Embiid are playing to their strengths even more than before.

It’s no surprise that getting a three-level scorer on the perimeter would help the offense this much. The problem is, the Sixers probably need another versatile wing if they want to truly compete for a championship.

Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images
Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images /

If they don’t want that this year, then why would they trade for Butler, a 29-year-old who spent most of his younger years playing unhealthy amounts of time with Tom Thibodeau? How long can Embiid’s body hold up considering his physical makeup?

If your two best players are ready to go, it’s time to make a move. It was understandable to integrate Butler and let the team work itself out with a huge addition like that, but that time of feeling out is now over. It would be careless of the front office to waste opportunities to make the team immediately better.

It’s no secret that the buyout market could dry up very quickly, nor is it outlandish to say that they won’t be very effective. Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova played unsustainably well last season, and neither could truly exist on the court in crunch time against, say, the Toronto Raptors or Boston Celtics.

If the team is serious about competing this season, they will have to get some guys. The role players around this Big 3 just aren’t cutting it.

Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images
Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images /

Wilson Chandler was good three years ago; Landry Shamet is being relied on way too much as a rookie; J.J. Redick has demonstrably lost a step on defense; Mike Muscala should never have to start for a contender; T.J. McConnell can’t be relied on for consistent shot creation like he is now; Furkan Korkmaz needs to hit the weight room.

The entire rotation is playing more minutes than it should be, because there simply aren’t enough good basketball players in it. That has to change immediately if the Sixers are serious about contending.

Granted, it will be difficult to pull off considering the team’s cap situation. They can’t afford to trade any rotation players to match salary, unless they want to trade Markelle Fultz. That’s a feasible theory if you value cap flexibility next season over his potential to remember how to shoot.

Other than Fultz, everyone else of value on the roster has to be kept around for the playoff push. If the Sixers can acquire a two-way wing better than Chandler, along with a two-way guard who can actually defend starting point guards, while only using draft capital and possibly Korkmaz, then they are in considerably better shape.

The former need could be filled by a lot of players on expiring contracts; Justin Holiday and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope come to mind. Expendable two-way guards are a rarity, but rumors are swirling about Cory Joseph being on the block thanks to rookie Aaron Holiday‘s emergence in the Indiana Pacers‘ rotation. If the Los Angeles Clippers take a nosedive, Patrick Beverley would be a hell of an addition.

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Whatever the Sixers think the answer is, they better find it quickly. The Eastern Conference’s top tier is quite strong, and with this current roster, Philly is not even in the conversation to win it.