Winners: Philadelphia 76ers
Everyone knew the Philadelphia 76ers were headed toward a complicated offseason. Three of their starters would hit the open market with two looking to sign max contracts. After losing sniper J.J. Redick, things weren’t off to a hot start. How they rebounded may have them closer than ever to a title.
First came an extension for Tobias Harris worth five years and $180 million. Say what you will about his up-and-down play last season, but his offensive versatility and outside shooting are traits not easily found in power forwards today.
Philly then got close to pulling off a sign-and-trade deal with the Miami Heat that sent away Jimmy Butler in exchange for Josh Richardson. A 25-year-old 2-guard coming off his best season to date, Richardson is set to make significantly less than Butler, paving the way for the Sixers to swoop in and make another massive mark on the free agency landscape if they can get the deal done.
For the last two seasons, Al Horford has been a thorn in Philly’s side. He defends Joel Embiid better than most with prowess at both ends, which helped the Boston Celtics amass a 10-3 record over their rival over the last two seasons, including the playoffs.
Now, what was once one of their biggest problems has become a tremendous asset. Horford agreed to a four-year, $109 million deal, rounding out a potential starting five whose shortest player is 6’6”.
Philly could’ve run back the same core from last season, confident in its abilities minus a few unlucky bounces. How Joel Embiid, Harris and Horford co-exist will be something to look for. As he’s done during his tenure, though, GM Elton Brand swung hard once again, bringing balance and depth to a team — assuming Miami irons out a few complications with the Dallas Mavericks — with as good a shot as any to now take home the 2019-20 title.