Tobias Harris is running it back. Jimmy Butler is not, and Josh Richardson is coming to Philadelphia. Al Horford has turned from rival to Joel Embiid's partner in the frontcourt. JJ Redick is reportedly heading to New Orleans. Oh, and fan favorite Mike Scott is sticking around.
The Sixers made a flurry of franchise-altering moves Sunday night. "Franchise-altering" is probably an overused phrase, but it's a fair one to describe the first night of free agency for the Sixers.
We'll have more time to make sense of it all once free agency concludes and the Sixers fill out their bench, but here are a few initial takeaways:
• The Sixers' starting five will presumably be Embiid, Horford, Harris, Richardson and Ben Simmons. That is a massive, defensively imposing starting five. Richardson is the shortest player of the group at 6-foot-6, with the other four players all 6-foot-9 or taller. Factor in Zhaire Smith and Matisse Thybulle off the bench, and the Sixers are going to be very difficult to score against.
• We'll have to wait to learn more details before making full judgement on the sign-and-trade, but Richardson is a good young player (25 years old) under contract for the next three seasons. He's gotten better every season in the NBA, averaging 16.6 points, 4.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game in 2018-19 with Miami.
• The decision to give Harris a five-year, $180-million deal also had to be motivated by the belief that he'll keep getting better. He had an untimely shooting slump in the second half of the season, but you can understand the Sixers having faith he'll keep growing. He's a great "culture" guy, too, embodying consistent class and professionalism. Harris' production is ultimately what will determine whether his contract is worth it, but the Sixers will like having him around as a human being for five more years.
• Butler's departure is not shocking, but it still qualifies as a surprise. He seemed to enjoy his role as a leader to two young stars in Simmons and Embiid, and to savor the responsibility of taking over in the fourth quarter. You'd expect more details to be revealed later about why he didn't return to Philadelphia and what the Sixers were offering him. When the team traded for Butler, acquired his Bird Rights and said they'd be willing to pay the luxury tax to retain him and Harris, it was natural to assume Butler would be back.
• We talked a ton about Butler's fit last year, and that's going to again be an interesting question with Horford. Will Brett Brown use him primarily as a traditional power forward, given Horford's three-point shooting ability (37.1 percent from long range on 3.2 attempts per game over the last four seasons)? Will Brown stagger his minutes with Embiid, making Horford the de facto backup center? Does that mean a backup big guy should now be a lower priority in free agency? Regardless, the Sixers got an excellent player who does a lot of things well.
• It's worth noting that Horford is 33 years old. There's a chance the Sixers are paying Horford a lot more than he's worth in the last two years of his deal, and the odds of decline are perhaps higher than they would have been with a five-year deal for Butler, who turns 30 in September. It will be worth it if Horford helps the team win a title at age 33 or 34.
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