Featured Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Despite losing a playoff series many expected them to win against an undermanned team, this season should still be deemed a success.
With 52 regular season wins, a top three seed in the Eastern Conference, and a trip to the second round of the playoffs, the Sixers exceeded even the most modest of expectations. But they’re expecting to build upon the growth the team showed this season, which is why this summer will be so crucial.
Embiid, who remained relatively healthy throughout the duration of the season, will begin the first year of his five-year max deal next season ($25,250,000). Simmons will be entering the third year of his rookie contract, and will likely command his own max extension in 2019. Dario Saric finds himself in the same boat.
Markelle Fultz, who found himself on the court for only 17 of the Sixers’ 92 total games played this season, will enter the offseason in full attack mode and look to rebound in his sophomore season.
The Sixers have their four core players (five, if you include Robert Covington) all signed up for at least two years.
Own Free Agents
Last summer, the Sixers signed two free agents to one-year deals. JJ Redick ($23,000,000) and Amir Johnson ($11,000,000) each played key roles for the Sixers throughout the duration of the season, but both find themselves on the free agent market this summer. The same can be said about the team’s two midseason additions — Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. It is likely that some, or most of these players may return to the team next summer, but it’s very unlikely that the Sixers will bring each of them back.
Each of these players are solid contributors, but fairly one-dimensional. The Sixers have bigger holes on the roster that needs to filled, leaving them with the decision to wait the team out or seek deals elsewhere.
The Sixers are projected to have more than $30 million of cap space this summer. That’s enough to sign a max-level free agent. With their top players all set to receive extensions within the next couple summers, the team will not have this much money to spend for the next several years. If the Sixers want to make a free agent splash, this is the summer to do so.
From LeBron James to Paul George, there are a number of star players available on the free agent market. With a number of young, talented players, the Sixers could also be a team to watch out for on the trade market. Their recently announced No. 10 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft could be yet another attractive piece in a potential trade for a star.
If the second-round loss to the Celtics showed anything, it showed that the Sixers still have a ton of work to do. Coach Brett Brown needs to show better awareness, pay more attention to detail, make better in-game adjustments, and have a better handle on his rotations.
Embiid needs to show he can remain healthy, first and foremost. But he must also show he can take better care of the ball and continue to dominate the game down-low, and not fall too in love with the three-point shot.
Simmons must force defenders to play him honestly and develop a consistent shot from outside the paint.
Saric and Covington need to show more consistency knocking down the three, while also showing the ability to guard their man.
Fultz must show more than flashes of the scoring and playmaking that made him the No. 1 pick in the draft less than one year ago.
The team caught many people off guard this year, but starting next season, expectations will mount. Even if the Sixers fail to land a big name star player this offseason, the expectation will still be for the team to build upon last season and grow into one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Process is not over. It’s now about cashing in on what The Process is supposed to represent.