After finishing 3rd in the Eastern Conference and once again being knocked out in the second round, the Sixers are looking for a fresh start this upcoming season with new head coach Nick Nurse.
However, the beginning of this season is heading in a turbulent direction, just as we saw a few years ago.
So first, a recap…
The Sixers did not end last season on a high note and have since had quite the dramatic offseason. After losing in 7 games to the Boston Celtics in the second round, the Sixers promptly fired Doc Rivers and hired former Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. In free agency, they signed Patrick Beverley, Paul Reed, and Mo Bamba while losing Georges Niang, Shake Milton, and Jalen McDaniels.
To add on, after a lackluster draft night, James Harden opted into his player option and requested a trade. Harden only wants to be traded to the Clippers, but so far, neither side has been able to work out a deal. Now, Daryl Morey has been called a liar by Harden, and the rift between the front office and Harden is “irreparable.” Sound familiar?
Where are they now?
With training camp around the corner, the Sixers roster currently looks like this:
- PG // Maxey, Beverly
- SG // Harden*, Melton, Springer, Korkmaz
- F // Tucker, House
- PF // Harris, Reed
- C // Embiid, Bamba, *Harrell (Out for season)
- Two Ways // Smith, Council IV, Tubelis
ESPN projects the Sixers to finish fourth in the Eastern Conference this year behind Boston, Milwaukee, and Cleveland. The Sixers as the fourth seed seems realistic, considering the last time the Sixers were dealing with an unhappy player, they had a tough time winning before a trade was made and stayed in the middle of the pack. It’s fair to say that would be the case once again, although anything can happen in the NBA.
According to Positive Residual, the Sixers have the eighth easiest schedule this season, but that means nothing if you have outside noise distracting you. However, with the inevitable leap Tyrese Maxey will make, a new head coach, and Embiid coming off his MVP season, this team could be in a better position than we saw with the Ben Simmons saga.
If this team can stay afloat while Morey waits to find the solution to the Harden problem, then they should have no problem being in a good spot come playoffs. Part of the Sixers’ success this season will be dependent on when a Harden deal gets done and what they receive in return.
If the Sixers want to be a top-five team in April, Nick Nurse has to help repair the chemistry between the team and keep their minds focused on who is playing and not trade rumors.
As Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid have alluded to, the team would welcome Harden back as they know he makes them better.
But with the Harden trade at a standstill, Morey is going to need to get creative if this roster wants to compete for a championship and not waste another year of Embiid’s prime.
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