Philadelphia 76ers

What If Jimmy Butler Had Stayed With The Sixers?

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Sixers’ star Joel Embiid recently commented that the team moved on from Jimmy Butler for Ben Simmons, but what if Jimmy stayed?

Amid the recent comments from Joel Embiid, it is clear that he still has some issues to work out with the Sixers not bringing his former teammate and close friend Jimmy Butler back. According to Joel, not bringing Jimmy Buckets back was rooted in the idea of keeping the ball in Ben Simmons’ hands. Clearly, Embiid still has some issues with this decision. At this point, it very much seems like steps were taken to make Ben Simmons feel more comfortable and happier, compared to Embiid just being able to continually improve each season, independently from the roster surrounding him, but one has to ask the question of “If the Sixers had built around Jimmy and Joel, what would that look like?”

We open in an off-season when the 76ers have two key free agents in Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler. In this situation, the 76ers have a few options now, knowing that Jimmy Butler will be locked up to his five-year max contract worth 190 million dollars. Win this world, the Sixers decided to have the conversation with Jimmy and why he would want to leave the Sixers. Elton Brand also doesn’t play any games and offers Jimmy what he’s worth immediately.

Free Agency 2019

In the end, the Sixers and Jimmy agree to move forward, tying Jimmy to the Sixers and tying the Sixers up from giving any money to an ill-fitting Al Horford. Next, the Sixers would turn to their other big-name free agent in Tobias Harris. Tobias was a tricky player to value, as he was almost an All-Star and had performed well enough to validate a second deal. Also, being a risky trade deadline accusation drove his price up significantly, and his offensive ability caused suitors to line up. Brand would obviously want to bring back Tobias, if not for any other reason than for his own job security. However, Brand would not be likely to give Tobias a five-year max deal, offering him something closer to a four-year, 100 million dollar deal.

With this smaller set of money and such a competitive market, Tobias would probably fall to the allure of signing with a team that pays him a max contract for a bigger role. Tobias would probably go to Utah or Sacramento, becoming a true number 2 scorer where the team would be more open to playing his game.

With the newfound money from Tobias signing with the Jazz and the slight shrinkage in funds from Jimmy Butler’s contract, the Sixers would be left with a decent chunk of money. However, with the Sixers waiting for Tobias’ decision, the Sixers would have to miss out on the Al Horford sweepstakes as he agrees to a deal with the Sacramento Kings. This leaves the Sixers with a large chunk of money and some decent players left on the market.

First, the Sixers would contact JJ Reddick, and instead of offering him a 3-year deal worth 20 million and a team option on the last year, the Sixers would be able to offer him a 2-year deal worth 20 million dollars, with a third-year team option for 10 million, giving a fan favorite who loved playing in Philadelphia a more competitive market price contract. Bringing Reddick back would allow one of the best shooters in Sixers history and one of Joel’s favorite pick and roll partners to continue his string of consecutive playoff appearances.

Next, the Sixers would look at the hole in their team at the 4, and with roughly 15 million dollars left, Brand would contact former Sixer, Thaddeus Young, offering him a 4 year 60 million dollar deal (with a team option on the last year). Thad would jump for many reasons to rejoin his former team as it offers him a large role, a reunion tour, and long-term job security.

Some smaller signings would happen, like Mike Scott returning to the team and a few smaller pickups, yet ultimately it would now be the big three with Jimmy, Joel, and Simmons. Matisse Thybulle would still be the draft day stud and would progress just as quickly with the defensive prowess of Jimmy and Ben to mentor him.

What Happens To Simmons?

As the year progressed, Simmons’ role would seemingly decrease as Markelle Fultz would more than likely continue to struggle but would show flashes of what he was supposed to be. However, because of Brand’s curious inability on asset evaluation, he would still trade him to Orlando for pennies on the dollar.

These Sixers would still go to the bubble and would be a better team, probably winning their first-round matchup as the star power would be too much, yet when Simmons goes down in before the playoffs, the Sixers still can’t make it out of the second round, causing everyone in Philadelphia to question whether this would be a team that was built to win a championship.

Brett Brown would still be fired in this universe. Doc Rivers would still be the hire there. Daryl Morey would still be hired and oversee from his position as President of Basketball Operations. Maxey would still be the draft pick, and with most major players already tied up, we can assume that no crazy new additions would be had. However, Dwight would still make his way over here after getting his ring with the Lakers. The sensation that is Tyrese Maxey would still be the draft pick as the Thunder would still convey their pick to the Sixers.

In this offseason, Morey would look at the role that Ben Simmons had the previous year and realize what would have to be done. Morey would look at Simmons as a way of upgrading his roster. Morey would call up Kevin Pritchard and Chad Buchanan of the Indiana Pacers and start the conversation built around Ben Simmons for Bubble-Star TJ Warren, Process Era Sixer TJ McConnell and a more traditional point guard in Malcolm Brogdon, plus a future first-round pick.

The Pacers would jump at adding a big name like Simmons, and while Simmons would certainly have his share of haters in The City of Brotherly Love, he would still escape with some semblance of his dignity. The new-look 76ers would now boast a starting 5 of Malcolm Brogdon, Jimmy Butler, Matisse Thybulle, Thaddeus Young, and centerpiece Joel Embiid.

The Final Product

The second unit would have the addition of TJ Warren and a homecoming for defensive ace TJ McConnell. This would let the Sixers have a better bench with two potential sixth men of the year in Shake Milton and TJ Warren while allowing Tyrese Maxey to shine offensively for the Sixers. TJ McConnell would be the best backup point guard we’ve had since TJ McConnell. Dwight would provide his energy, and Furkan Korkmaz would still provide solid outside shooting for the Sixers all season. This team would make the one seed and would, for the first time in a long time, cause the Sixers to coast through the Wizards (or potentially a team like the Pacers who would have the talent to make the playoffs in this world, but they wouldn’t be able to survive Ben’s meltdown). The Sixers would be too good to lose in 7 to the Hawks, as I’m sure anyone else on the Sixers would have decided to dunk instead of throwing it out to Matisse. Embiid and Company would, for the first time in his career, finally escape the second round only to match up with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris “Cash-Money” Middleton, and former Sixer Jrue Holiday.

The battle of the East between Embiid and Giannis would prove to be one of the most entertaining of the year. Embiid and Giannis would match up, the two big men and perennial MVP candidates would go to battle as Jimmy Buckets, and Khris Middleton would continue to fight for supremacy of who is the most underrated player in the East. Brogdon and Jrue would each prove how valuable of additions they are to their team. In the end, the series would be decided in seven games as the combined star power and lack of tension between Embiid and Simmons would let the team form the chemistry needed to defeat the Bucks and advance to the finals for the first time in Joel’s young career where the Sixers would match up with Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns.

This series would be similar to the previous one, a battle between two starving franchises desperate to prove everyone wrong. Jimmy would guard DBook all series, and Chris Paul would dominate Brogdon. However, the true differences would come in the form of Tobias Harris taking the edge over Jae Crowder and Joel Embiid, showing DeAndre Ayton’s relative inexperience. The Sixers would bring home the elusive Larry O’Brien Trophy to the City of Brotherly Love, forever cementing Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid as one of the best duos in Philly sports history.

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