The Philadelphia 76ers have made yet another bold move this season with their recent acquisition of veteran Tobias Harris. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that that Philadelphia will be sending the promising Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler, and four future draft picks for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and Mike Scott. This move not only signals the 76ers’ intention to “win now” but also that newly appointed GM, Elton Brand, knows how to make calculated risks. This trade is indeed a risk, one that if it fails could leave the 76ers with a future filled with question marks. So what exactly are the implications from such a daring trade for an organization that has dramatically accelerated “the Process”?
On paper, the Philadelphia 76ers have acquired a starting 5 that is unquestionably formidable in the eastern conference. The disappointing loss to the Toronto Raptors last night exposed the glaring weakness of the team. Notably a lack of depth and a varied scoring options. The 76ers only used three bench players while requiring its most important starters to play an average of 41.5 minutes. The Toronto Raptors were able to utilize six bench players offering its core players some much needed minutes of rest. Although Reddick was out with an illness and Chandler out with a right quad sprain, a bench consisting of McConnell, Korkmaz, and Bolden was unable to provide the necessary support to the starting cast. This was the same Philly team that just a week ago was able to topple the Golden State Warriors, albeit without Klay Thompson, with Embiid and Butler having poor shooting nights. It is for this very reason the Tobias Harris trade needed to happen, consistency. The 76ers need to have consistent performances in the playoffs in order to have any hope of making it to the NBA Finals let alone the Eastern Conference Finals. Harris with the addition of Marjanovic and Scott should help in regards to consistent scoring options, with Harris shooting 49.6% from the field and 43.4% from three (ESPN statistics).
What the 76ers failed to accomplish, however, was the severe lack of depth on the bench. Yes, Philadelphia should be able to coast to a top four spot in the playoffs, but once they start playing seven game series against tougher opposition, the team could find itself in some serious trouble. There is no doubt that Elton Brand is aware of this considering he has been making such difficult and bold decisions to date furthering his stock as a bonafide NBA executive. The buyout market is where the 76ers could make or break their season. If they are able to add players to help flesh out the bench, then it is arguable that this current team could put up a fight against Toronto and even Golden State.
It is important to keep in mind that while this trade helps Philadelphia this season, this trade further pushes them perennial contenders for the next four or five years. Yet, this all hinges on them being able to re sign both Harris and Butler. If the 76ers lose Butler, they could look far worse considering they gave up two very good complimentary pieces in Saric and Covington. If Tobias Harris were to leave, which considering how many times he has been traded in the past he may be looking to settle with a team for the future, then the only crucial piece lost was Landry Shamet, who proved to be a much more useful piece than some originally thought. With all of that said, the risk was worth it on both. It is arguable that both Butler and Harris would be able to find themselves on a team more suited to compete than Philadelphia. If they do not mind taking a back seat a various times throughout a game, then the 76ers are their best bet to win a title. That alone along with the ability of the 76ers to offer more money than any other team should have them feeling confident in being able to re-sign both players.
In total success in the NBA is judged by championships, and with the Philly fans patiently waiting to win another title let alone reach the Finals again, Elton Brand signaled that now is the time to win. The future can be extremely bright for the Philadelphia, if at the very least fans should feel proud that smart and bold moves are being made to show Simmons, Embiid, and the fanbase that they mean business.