“Who’s going to stop them?”
Right? Wasn’t that everyone’s expectations heading into the 2019-2020 season? Boasting a brand new (and incredibly tall) starting five, the Sixers looked like the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. After stampeding past the Celtics on Opening Night, it seemed like everything was going according to plan.
Fast forward six months later, and this pipe dream of the 76ers finally being championship contenders is just that – a pipe dream. Even with the excessive levels of disaster that the team has faced this year (injuries, league suspension, locker room turmoil, etc.), it’s clear the roster’s current construction is a flawed one.
With a shortened playoff structure most likely inbound at some point this summer, and a potential early exit on the horizon for the 76ers, expect some serious changes to commence this upcoming offseason.
This one goes without saying, and it’s been written about to death. Al Horford and his 4-year/$108 million dollar contract have been one of the biggest disasters in 76ers history. To this day, it’s still hard to comprehend what exactly GM Elton Brand was thinking when he handed that much money out to a glorified backup center.
In 60 games with the Sixers this season, Horford is shooting a career-low 44.2% from the field. His scoring is the worst it’s been since 2009, and his defense has been nonexistent. The 76ers efficiency numbers plummet when he shares the court with Simmons and Embiid, and he’s had multiple incidents where he’s publicly expressed his frustrations with the team/the fans.
Finding a trade partner who’s willing to absorb a soon to be 34-year- old Al Horford and his $27 million dollar salary will be no easy task. Whether it’s in a blockbuster move for someone like Buddy Hield (check out that rumor: here), or just a simple salary dump with a lottery-level team, I’d be willing to bet a healthy amount of cash that “Big Al” won’t be with the Sixers next season.
This one hurts a bit, but it’s the brutal reality of the situation that the Sixers put themselves in. With little to no tradable assets on the roster, the 76ers front office is going to have to find it in themselves to part ways with at least one valuable piece.
Richardson was acquired in the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade which took place this past offseason, and Sixers fans had reason to be excited early on. Coming off the best year of his career in which he averaged 16.6 points per game, Richardson looked more than capable to replace the role which Butler had so crucially played the year prior. At just 26 years old, there was reason to believe he hadn’t even hit his prime yet.
Unfortunately, just like Horford, Richardson seemed to find himself the odd man out when it came to factoring into the Sixers offense. While he had some great moments early on, and regularly played great defensively, his constant injuries made it near impossible for Brett Brown to incorporate his abilities into the playbook.
Even when healthy, Richardson’s lack of a consistent three-point shot made his fit next to Simmons mediocre at best (Richardson’s 3P% dropped from 35.7% to 32.7%, and his 3PA dropped from 6.3 to 4.5).
The 76ers number one task this offseason needs to be getting rid of Al Horford, and if they can swap him for shooting, do what it takes to get that done as well. In any sort of Horford trade, throwing in Richardson to get the deal done might just need to happen.
Despite being one of the most beloved Philly athletes in the city, Mike Scott has been really bad this season, Like, really really bad.
Acquired as part of the trade for Tobias Harris last season, Scott surprised a lot of people with his ability to operate as a sharpshooter off the bench. He shot a career-best 41.2% from three last year, regularly playing 20-30 minutes a night. After Scott hit a game-winning three in the first round of the playoffs, it was settled, Scott had to be a part of the team’s future plans.
Scott was inked to a 2-year/$9.8 million dollar contract last offseason, a deal which most people felt was a steal for the 76ers. Having a legit shooter off the bench to pair next to Embiid and Simmons is a must.
Entering his first full season with the team, for whatever reason, Scott regressed by about ten-fold. Scott’s 3P% dropped by an insane 5.4%. An astonishingly large decrease in productivity considering his primary job is to knock down open threes.
With Scott’s defense already being a point of concern, Brett Brown quickly found himself unable to play Scott in any sort of meaningful game. Going ice-cold from beyond the arc, the once-beloved sixth man found himself relegated to the end of the bench, as guys like Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton stole his minutes.
Scott carries a $5 million dollar cap hit heading into 2021, and that’s a number the Sixers simply can’t afford to keep him on. The front office will no doubt shop him around at first, however, if no suitors are found, a simple “release” will likely be in order.
Now before you all start freaking out at me on Twitter (shameless Twitter plug @phillyinsider99), one has to think about this logically. As mentioned previously, the 76ers number one priority this offseason has to be getting rid of Al Horford. If an opportunity arises in which you can cut ties with Horford while getting back a valuable shooter in return, the team has to pull the trigger.
For example, if the 76ers called up the Sacramento Kings later this summer, and the Kings said they we’re willing to part with Buddy Hield, but only if they got Horford and Thybulle back in return, how could one say no to that?
Outside of Simmons and Embiid, Thybulle is the most valuable piece on the Sixers roster. Young, athletic, oozing with potential, and on a very cheap rookie contract. As far as “deal sweeteners” go, he’s the best the Sixers have to offer.
In his rookie season, Thybulle has already proven himself to be one of the best defenders in the NBA. Averaging 1.4 steals per game playing just 19.5 minutes a night, Thybulle also ranks fourth in the league when it comes to deflections per 36.
Losing someone of Thybulle’s ability would hurt. Not only is he a solid contributor, but he appears to be a great locker room presence as well. However, due to some awful front office decision making, he could very well be a casualty in the “fixing process”.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports