Soon after the Philadelphia 76ers lost by 12 to their conference foe Toronto Raptors, the front office decided to make another big move in hopes of winning a title.
Philly acquired Tobias Harris, along with Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott. In exchange, the Clippers received Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, a protected first round pick 2020 and an unprotected 2021 first round pick.
Harris averaged 20.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists with Los Angeles this year. Many considered him to be an All-Star snub.
After trading for Jimmy Butler earlier this season, and now dealing for Harris, Philly is proving they aren’t afraid of making major trades. In addition, they believe the time for winning is now.
The Sixers are budgeting to re-sign and keep a new Big 4, including free agents Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler this summer, league sources tell ESPN. Philadelphia has long-term plans for Harris, Butler, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons together.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 6, 2019
The 76ers will now have arguably the best starting five in the NBA outside of Golden State. Ben Simmons, J.J. Reddick, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid is an incredible lineup.
The 76ers are looking to keep all four players long term, as Harris and Butler free agents this summer. The belief when the team traded for Butler was that he will sign a contract with Philly. Harris, who has improved greatly in the last couple of seasons, could receive a max contract from a team looking to sign an All-Star level player.
Giving up draft picks and more assets for these two players is a bold move. Philly isn’t looking to win down the road, but right now. This is what ‘The Process’ has led to.
Is Philly now the favorite?
There are currently four teams that have a real shot of winning the Eastern Conference: Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. Indiana would be in the picture, had Victor Oladipo not suffered a season-ending knee injury last month.
Currently, only five games separate the first seed Bucks in the East from the fifth seed 76ers. The Raptors and Bucks have continued to play well, while the Celtics appear to have found their groove behind the play of Kyrie Irving.
This begs the question, where does Philly fall? Does Tobias Harris make them contenders?
While time will tell, this deal most certainly closes the gap between the 76ers and the other three teams. Harris adds quality shooting at 43.4 percent from behind the arc, as well as rebounding ability.
Chemistry and inexperience are two issues Philadelphia may have going forward. Butler has only been with the team a few months, and adding in another talent into the starting five may result in a changed dynamic. Butler won’t be happy with a lesser role than he has now, and that may come with Harris on the team.
The 76ers are still a young team with Simmons and Embiid at the core. Last season featured the team’s first playoff appearance in the new era, ending in a second-round sweep by the depleted Boston Celtics. The 76ers are going to have to prove themselves come playoff time. This is where Butler, an eight-year pro, can provide some leadership.
Depth could also prove to be a challenge for Philadelphia. While the starting five looks fantastic on paper, the trades for Butler and Harris left them without many of their role plays. Boston and Toronto are much deeper, and could expose this in the playoffs.
Trading for Tobias Harris makes Philadelphia a better contender for the Eastern Conference title. Chemistry and depth could be the difference between a second-round exit again, and a trip to the NBA Finals.