Three big questions 76ers must answer this NBA offseason
The Philadelphia 76ers have some important decisions to make this offseason.
Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard ended Philadelphia's NBA season with a Game 7 buzzer-beater in Sunday's Eastern Conference semi-final decider.
Now, the 76ers must figure out what is best for their future.
"The process" is not quite complete, so here are three questions Philadelphia need to answer during the offseason:
What's the best way to solidify the backcourt?
The 76ers need to address their lack of guard depth. Philadelphia once had a collection of prospects looking to establish a role in the rotation. But now, Ben Simmons and Zhaire Smith are the only guards on the books for 2019-20.
Prolific sharpshooter JJ Redick is an unrestricted free agent. While Philadelphia could try to retain his services, they need ball-handlers.
The 76ers got virtually nothing from reserve guards like T.J. McConnell, Jonathan Simmons and 2018 first-round pick Smith during the postseason. Jimmy Butler often operated as the team's backup point guard in the second unit for Philadelphia, but he and Tobias Harris could move on in the coming months.
Without role players they can trust to create for themselves and others, the 76ers could experience a significant decline. Especially if they cannot match this year's star power.
Who should get offered a max deal?
Philadelphia traded notable pieces to land top talents Butler and Harris. Among these were Defensive Player of the Year candidate Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Markelle Fultz and Landry Shamet.
The 76ers' win-now attitude allowed them to feature one of the most dangerous starting line-ups in the NBA this season. But injuries, specifically to Joel Embiid (knee), limited their repetitions together in the regular season.
Now both Butler and Harris could enter free agency this offseason. Butler has a player option for the 2019-20 season while Harris is an unrestricted free agent. Should Philadelphia offer one or both of these players a max deal?
Butler's grittiness fit the city's culture and provided the young 76ers with a cold-blooded finisher at the end of games. Harris flourished at times, but often waned in the postseason.
If Philadelphia do not fork out the big bucks, both could become one-year rentals, and that could set the 76ers back a few years. The risk was necessary to become a contender, but it could backfire in a big way.
Can Simmons and Embiid co-exist?
I know what you are thinking. How could having two All-Stars under the age of 26 be a problem?
Philadelphia's years of poor performance helped them land two generational talents in Simmons and Embiid. But they might have to part ways with one for their own good.
Simmons is a 6-10 point guard with effortless playmaking ability, and Embiid is arguably one of the most talented and versatile big men of all time. However, a few problems need to be addressed.
Simmons' lack of a jump shot and willingness to take over games has come into question as of late. Embiid can go toe-to-toe with any player, but he has missed 88 games through three NBA seasons.
Should the 76ers put money into retaining Butler and Harris, they could dig themselves into a deep hole. Simmons and Embiid have valuable skill sets, but the combination of their playing styles provides little floor spacing at the moment.
Now could be the time to jump and fetch a high price on the open market as they approach their primes.
The city of Philadelphia is restless as it awaits an NBA championship, and one mistake could derail the 76ers progress toward that goal.