76ers

Decision of free agent Tobias Harris toughest Elton Brand will face but may define offseason

Decision of free agent Tobias Harris toughest Elton Brand will face but may define offseason

Everyone was in shock when Elton Brand was able to acquire Tobias Harris before the trade deadline.

Harris was having an All-Star-caliber season, flirting with the elite 50/40/90 shooting line and on his way to a big payday this offseason. 

When the move was made, and after Harris’ red-hot start with the Sixers, bringing him back seemed like a no-brainer. But Harris stumbled to the finish line and had an up-and-down playoff run. 

Should the Sixers bring back Harris and see what this loaded team can do with a full season or let him walk and secure the team’s depth? The answer isn’t black and white.

Harris’ first eight games as a Sixer were remarkably good. He averaged 21.9 points and shot 55/42/83, looking every bit like the player they traded for. His clutch 32-point performance in the team’s first win against the Thunder in forever was a virtuoso performance. He was outstanding and played closer.

Over the last 19 games, Harris averaged 16.7 points and his line went down to 43/27/85. That is a precipitous drop off. His playoff numbers were OK and reflective of his uneven performances. What will stick out most to fans is his 7-of-23 performance in a pivotal Game 4 against Toronto. That series loss is still raw and that game very well may have swung the series, so it’s fair.

But who outside of Jimmy Butler was consistently good in the second round? Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons both struggled mightily in just their second postseason. Even Butler himself had a rough Game 7.

It’s important to keep in mind the context of Harris’ career. This was his eighth NBA season, but he’s just 26 years old. He’s also improved markedly over the course of his career. He was pretty much a non-threat from three for the first six years of his career, shooting just 33 percent on less than three attempts per game. Over the last two seasons, he was over 40 percent on over five attempts while being traded twice.

Given that improvement, it’s also fair to project Harris’ playoff play will improve. Before playing in 12 postseason contests with the Sixers, Harris’ only other playoff experience was when the Pistons were swept in the first round in 2016. Like Embiid and Simmons, this taste of failure could fuel him. It’s also fair to believe that improved performances by the Sixers’ young All-Stars could open more things up for Harris.

When you start talking money, it gets exceedingly more complicated. Signing Harris and Butler to near-max deals and giving Simmons his first max extension would push the Sixers over the luxury tax. It’s something that Josh Harris has repeatedly said would not be a problem. At that point, you’d be looking at a bench full of young, cheap players  and veteran ring chasers. 

If you let Harris walk, you could look on the free agent market and perhaps sign a trio of Terrence Ross, Corey Joseph and Dewayne Dedmon, as an example. There’s also a greater chance you could bring back JJ Redick and/or James Ennis and/or Mike Scott. That could ultimately be the more attractive option if you’re able to sign Jimmy Butler. 

If Butler leaves, you almost have to keep Harris. While the loss of Butler would sting, you’d be in solid shape building around the trio of Embiid, Simmons and Harris, all 26 or younger. If you don't strike early enough with Harris, he's going to have other suitors. He may have a little patience, but he's not going to wait forever.

Brand’s intention at the time of the Harris deal was to keep all four star-caliber players. While Brand said he was happy with what he saw out of Harris and Butler, was it enough to bring both back? 

It’s as difficult a decision as Brand will face this offseason.

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NBA draft 2019: Preview, start time, pick order, live stream and how to watch

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USA Today Images

NBA draft 2019: Preview, start time, pick order, live stream and how to watch

The 2019 NBA draft is upon us.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of tonight's selections.

Essentials

When: June 20 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Barclays Center (Brooklyn, New York)
Network: ESPN
Live stream: Watch ESPN
Social media: @NBCSPhilly

Here is the full draft order:

1. New Orleans 
2. Memphis
3. New York         
4. New Orleans (from Lakers)
5. Cleveland
6. Phoenix           
7. Chicago
8. Atlanta 
9. Washington
10. Atlanta (from Dallas)
11. Minnesota
12. Charlotte         
13. Miami 
14. Boston (from Sacramento via Sixers)
15. Detroit 
16. Orlando           
17. Atlanta (from Brooklyn)          
18. Indiana            
19. San Antonio     
20. Boston (from Clippers via Memphis)
21. Oklahoma City
22. Boston
23. Memphis (from Utah)
24. Sixers
25. Portland
26. Cleveland (from Houston)
27. Brooklyn (from Denver)
28. Golden State 
29. San Antonio (from Toronto)
30. Detroit (from Milwaukee)

Second round

31. Brooklyn (from New York via Sixers)
32. Phoenix 
33. Sixers (from Cleveland via Orlando and New York)
34. Sixers (from Chicago via Los Angeles Lakers)

35. Atlanta
36. Charlotte (from Washington via Orlando, Denver and Atlanta)
37. Dallas
38. Chicago (from Memphis)
39. New Orleans
40. Sacramento (from Minnesota via Portland and Cleveland)
41. Atlanta (from Los Angeles Lakers via Cleveland and Indiana)
42. Sixers (from Sacramento via Brooklyn and Milwaukee)
43. Minnesota (from Miami via Charlotte)
44. Atlanta (from Charlotte)
45. Detroit
46. Orlando (from Brooklyn via Memphis and Charlotte)
47. Sacramento (from Orlando via New York)
48. LA Clippers 
49. San Antonio
50. Indiana
51. Boston
52. Charlotte (from Oklahoma City)
53. Utah
54. Sixers
55. New York (from Houston)
56. LA Clippers (from Portland via Detroit and Orlando)
57. New Orleans (from Denver via Milwaukee)
58. Golden State
59. Toronto
60. Sacramento (from Milwaukee)

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Sixers Talk Podcast: Tom Haberstroh joins the pod to talk NBA free agency, draft

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Sixers Talk Podcast: Tom Haberstroh joins the pod to talk NBA free agency, draft

On this episode of Sixers Talk, Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick are joined by NBC Sports national NBA insider Tom Haberstroh to talk about NBA free agency and the draft.

Tom talks about the Anthony Davis trade, the dysfunctional Rockets and weighs in on the #RunItBack discussion.

Do you trust Elton Brand and the Sixers to get the draft right? Danny is worried about the Sixers' recent track record while Paul is ready to stand on a table for one prospect.

Come for Danny's Kobe Bryant story and stay for the draft chatter.