4 questions dealing with the Sixers this offseason

Issues have been sunny in Philadelphia after a Recreation 4 win over the Warmth.

James Harden turned again the clock with an electrical 16-point fourth quarter. Budding star Tyrese Maxey was discovering his footing. Danny Inexperienced’s capturing variance had evened out in an enormous means. Most significantly, Joel Embiid returned to the lineup — albeit with a damaged face and wonky thumb — to assist propel each wins on the Wells Fargo Heart.

The collection was tied 2-2, with the sixers showing to have a superb shot to steal a recreation in Miami … or so it appeared.

Two embarrassing and lifeless losses later, the Sixers’ season was over.

And with that comes myriad questions dealing with the franchise this offseason. With the ultimate media periods wrapped from this previous season, let’s check out 4 questions dealing with Daryl Morey and the gang and what solutions they could have.

James Harden’s future as a Sixer

Because the Sixers pulled off the blockbuster commerce that introduced Harden to Philadelphia, the sentiment has been the identical — The Beard will probably be right here past the 2021-22 season.

“That is the plan is to have him again,” Morey mentioned final week. “That is been the plan for the reason that commerce. Clearly now we have to work along with his illustration and that’ll be between us to determine how that works.”

Harden has a $47.4M participant choice for the 2022-23 season. He is been requested about selecting up that choice since he arrived. He was requested once more after Recreation 6.

“I will be right here, yeah,” Harden mentioned. “No matter permits this group to proceed to develop and get higher — and do the issues essential to win and compete on the highest degree.”

Harden may simply simply choose up that choice, gather almost $50M subsequent season after which reassess his standing. That choice — or signing the soon-to-be 33-year-old to a potential five-year, $270M super-max extension — would not appear interesting to the Sixers.

What appears extra possible is Harden and the group hammering out a deal that is smart for each side. Suppose one thing like three years or 4 years (with the ultimate yr being some form of choice) for someplace within the vary of $90M-$120M.

All of that is with the context that Harden was up and down this postseason, however ended it on a particularly bitter observe, taking solely two photographs within the second half of an elimination recreation. Harden will flip 33 subsequent season and lacked the mandatory burst and ending we have seen from him previously. His whistle has additionally gone from traditionally good to downright powerful.

The previous MVP has been coping with a hamstring concern since final postseason with the Nets, one thing he looks like he is begun absolutely recovering from.

“I used to be getting there, man,” Harden mentioned. “Truthfully, it has been an extended two years for me. I am lastly beginning to sort of really feel OK once more. It’s going to be an excellent summer season for me to get my physique proper and be able to go for subsequent yr. These final two years have been a whirlwind, although.”

It is truthful to have issues and doubts about the place Harden is and what he may finally be for the Sixers. Then once more, when the beginning unit was full wholesome throughout the postseason, they have been superb. Even after two clunkers in Video games 5 and 6, that five-man lineup posted the third-best web score within the league (minimal 60 minutes).

With a full and wholesome offseason and coaching camp, perhaps there may be extra to “unlock,” a phrase Morey used a number of occasions.

Is Doc Rivers the precise coach for this group?

Whether or not it was in response to Mike D’Antoni rumors that swirled in February or reported curiosity from the lakersthe message from the Sixers has been clear: Doc Rivers will coach this group subsequent season.

(I heard numerous your groan as you learn that.)

That message has been steadfast from the group each publicly and privately. Rivers nonetheless has three years remaining on his deal and in addition has a superb relationship with Morey.

“I do not fear about my job,” Rivers mentioned after Recreation 6. “I feel I do a terrific job and for those who do not, then you must write it, as a result of I labored my butt off to get this group right here. Once I first bought right here, nobody picked us to beat anybody. And once more, this yr, similar factor. So if that is how anybody feels, write it, and I will really feel safe.”

Here is the place I’m on Doc: I do not suppose he is almost as dangerous as many, many followers do, however I do marvel if there are higher choices for this group. Whereas I do not pin the trouble of grown males and professionals on Doc, I do marvel if the offense lacked creativity at occasions.

It felt just like the Warmth’s recreation plan was to remove Embiid and Harden and stay with anybody else beating them — and it felt just like the Sixers did nothing to fight that. A part of that falls on the entrance workplace for an absence of depth and Embiid (and even Harden) being compromised, however the offense felt stagnant.

The opposite truthful criticism of Rivers is his propensity to lean means too closely on veterans. I do not know if Paul Reed, Charles Bassey or Isaiah Joe are going to be rotational NBA gamers, however I might like to search out out! We all know the Sixers do not apply typically, which is truthful given the calls for of the NBA schedule, however that additionally means the one time for younger guys to develop is in video games. Possibly as a substitute of utilizing DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap down the stretch, Rivers may’ve gotten an extended have a look at Reed and/or Bassey. Possibly as a substitute of leaving a struggling Furkan Korkmaz within the rotation for 50 video games, you can’ve given Joe a stretch of video games.

With all that mentioned, the NBA is a player-driven league. Rivers was in a position to beat Nick Nurse, a coach I imagine to be top-of-the-line within the enterprise, within the first spherical. With a wholesome Embiid and extra depth, maybe he may’ve stood toe-to-toe with Erik Spoelstra.

Level being, regardless of Rivers’ shortcomings, teaching will not be the most important wrongdoer for the Sixers’ newest postseason failures.

“I imagine that now we have the precise individuals,” Embiid mentioned. “However I feel in some unspecified time in the future, you have to cease taking a look at teaching or entrance workplace. You have to have a look at the gamers. Possibly they’re simply not ok. And I am not attempting accountable anyone, however the gamers additionally need to do their jobs. It would not matter how a lot a coach or a GM talks to you or tries to inspire you for those who nonetheless go on the market and you do not do your job, and the opposite group is extra bodily than you. That is on the gamers.”

Do the Sixers have a ‘toughness’ concern?

We’ll simply let these quotes from Harris and Embiid converse for themselves:

“Psychological toughness,” Harris mentioned. “Seeing the Milwaukee recreation yesterday, that is a group that is been by the fireplace, having the ability to struggle and preserve going. At occasions for our group, too many issues simply affected us as an entire. We drop our heads an excessive amount of. Our physique language at occasions is crappy. We wanted that to be higher all through this collection. And I feel that harm us on this collection. Our psychological toughness for positive harm us in opposition to that group. They usually did numerous issues to sort of problem that — the hustle performs, the 50-50 basketballs, every part. The physicality by them, as nicely. We wanted to be higher as a collective group at simply holding our head and simply combating, simply going proper again at it. And I do not suppose we did an excellent job of that.”

“For positive,” Embiid mentioned. “We had a number of powerful guys since I have been right here that I can recall, whether or not it is Mike Scott … he did not play numerous minutes. However when you’ve dimension and toughness, that goes a great distance. You have a look at somebody like PJ Tucker — nice participant, but it surely’s not about him flattening photographs. It is about (the opposite issues) he does, whether or not it is on the defensive finish or rebounding the ball. You have a look at clearly defensively, he performs with a lot vitality. He believes that he can get from Level A to Level B, and he believes that nobody can beat him. And he is powerful. He is simply bodily and he is powerful. They’ve a number of of these guys, whether or not it is Bam and all these guys. And since I have been right here, I might be mendacity if I mentioned that we have had these sort of fellows. Nothing in opposition to what now we have, it is simply the reality.”

Morey heard this message, saying the group addressing an absence of toughness “may come from inside enchancment or it may come from acquisitions.”

“I feel the perfect organizations will take a step again and be taught from our losses,” Morey mentioned. “[The Heat] have been constructing for years. They’ve accomplished an incredible job. So credit score to Miami, and it hurts to need to lose to them, however they actually went on the market and took it. And we’d like a few of that toughness. We want numerous what we noticed from them. And look, we are able to do it. We have numerous sources. We have numerous flexibility, [our managing partners] give us each capability to exit and do what we have to do.”

Can/will/ought to the Sixers attempt to purchase one other star?

Given the current reporting by a number of ESPN reporters, it feels just like the rumors of the Sixers eyeing one other star (Bradley Beal, anybody?) have legs. Morey has at all times been a star hunter, one of many extra aggressive executives within the league and a man that does not shrink back from daring strikes.

The primary huge query: Would Harden be prepared to take much less cash to facilitate the acquisition of one other star?

“No matter it takes to assist this group proceed to develop and put us up there with the perfect of them.”

So, may Morey pull it off? our David Early did a superb job placing the items collectively on the way it may very well be a possible situation.

However is a pure scorer like Beal what’s finest for a Sixers group that already has obvious toughness and depth points? The Sixers’ beginning unit performed 184 minutes this postseason, the very best of any five-man lineup within the league.

Morey did provide an fascinating response when he was requested what the group’s most urgent wants have been. He mentioned one thing about protection earlier than pausing for about 5 seconds.

“I suppose the rationale I am pausing … is that I typically really feel like for those who go into the offseason with like, ‘we have to repair X,’ you find yourself closing off potential alternatives and avenues.”

It is a truthful means to take a look at group constructing. If the Sixers purchase somebody like Beal, who will exchange Harris because the beginning 4 does turn out to be much less of a priority. Nonetheless, the group might want to use each out there avenue so as to add the toughness and depth it lacks — whether or not it provides one other star or not.

“I feel we have had superb success about discovering guys,” Morey mentioned. “We’ll have the max sources underneath the CBA out there to us however numerous it should be discovering the precise minimal guys, which I feel we have had good success. I discover that to be top-of-the-line components of the job is as soon as you have bought your foremost guys in place, which we do, discovering the blokes you may slot in. We have to do a greater job, however that is a part of [the job].”

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