Philadelphia 76ers: 5 takeaways from the 2018-19 NBA season

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 5: Joel Embiid #21, Jimmy Butler #23, and Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers look on during a game against the Toronto Raptors during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 5, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 5: Joel Embiid #21, Jimmy Butler #23, and Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers look on during a game against the Toronto Raptors during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 5, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

1. Free agency will require tough decisions

Upon acquiring both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, the Sixers knew the risk they were taking on. Both players — along with starting 2-guard J.J. Redick — will hit the free agent market this coming summer.

Butler is expecting a max contract. Harris is as well. Philly’s ownership has expressed a desire to run it back with the same starting unit, but whether or not that’s the right decision is a conversation worth having.

For as great as they looked on paper, the Sixers’ cohesiveness was lacking at times on the court. Rarely did all five guys play well in any given game. One if not more were forced to sacrifice. This is to be expected with so many talented players requiring the ball in their hands, but it doesn’t appear to be worth the insane luxury bill the Sixers would be forced to pay to retain them all.

Butler appears to have earned his max contract as a two-way go-to scoring option on the perimeter, but even he brings reservations turning 30 in September. Harris averaged 18.8 points per game with Philly during the regular season but just 15.5 per game in the playoffs. His usage rate decreased while being relegated mostly to spot-up duties, where he shot an uninspiring 34.5 percent from 3.

This isn’t to say Tobias is a bad player. He simply needs more opportunities in order to do so, ones the Sixers don’t appear able to provide. Does Philly really want to invest roughly $188 million into a player whose role on the team could be found for a lot cheaper?

Redick has been an invaluable member of the Sixers’ success over the last two seasons as their best outside shooter, but after two straight one-year deals, he may be looking for a longer commitment. He shot 39.7 percent from distance last year, but at 6’4” he’s also a defensive liability at the 2. The market will likely dictate his value, but at a certain point, Philly may not be getting the best bang for its buck out of the soon-to-be 35-year-old.

The organization may feel that a few different bounces on Kawhi Leonard’s shot would’ve had them in the Eastern Conference Finals, prompting a return of this trio this summer. It would be an expensive investment in a group that doesn’t get the best out of each other — one that could doom the organization for the future should it not pan out.

Next. Winners and losers of the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery. dark

Free agency has the chance to make or break a team’s title hopes. For the Sixers, the likely scenarios wind up on the far ends of both spectrums. That pressure makes it imperative they make the right choices no matter how difficult or criticized they may be in order to keep this team on the championship track for years to come.