No need to sweat the Sixers’ quiet offseason

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 7: T.J. McConnell #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers talks to Ben Simmons #25 and Joel Embiid #21 in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on May 7, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Celtics 103-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 7: T.J. McConnell #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers talks to Ben Simmons #25 and Joel Embiid #21 in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on May 7, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Celtics 103-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Despite losing out on signing high-level free agents thus far, these Philadelphia 76ers are going to be just fine.

Brett Brown has made it clear that this Philadelphia 76ers squad needs more high-level talent to become legit. He expressed this sentiment at the conclusion of this past season during his exit interview and he addressed it again after the draft, saying in part, “We are star hunting. Or we are star developing. That’s how you win a championship”.

This offseason has been hyped up to be what the Process has prepped us for. A shot at landing big-time, superstar-caliber talent is as real as it has ever been. Chief among them being Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and LeBron James.

And there was reason to be excited, as the Sixers had a lot going for them heading into the summer. Not only did they have a max slot available, but they had a bevy of draft picks and other solid young pieces they could utilize in a possible trade for a star.

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When you also take into account the fact that they boast not one but two young, generational talents in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, Philly seemed like an attractive, no-brainer destination, and it wouldn’t be long before top talent started flocking to South Philly.

So far, it hasn’t exactly worked out that way. Paul George stayed put in OKC, LeBron decided to take his talents to Los Angeles, and talks with the Spurs about a deal for Kawhi have become stagnant.

Clearly not ideal.

As a result, the Sixers have turned their attention to re-signing key guys from last year’s squad and acquiring minor bench upgrades. They re-signed Amir Johnson and J.J. Redick to one-year deals, with J.J. receiving a $10 million dollar pay-cut from last year and the Sixers signing Amir basically for free.

They then made a Hinkie-esque move in acquiring Wilson Chandler to rid the Nuggets of luxury tax constraints and they signed former T-Wolves forward Nemanja Bjelica (pronounced “bjělitsa” if you’re curious). Both of whom are, in my opinion, much better reserve options than Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, who departed in free agency.

Yet clearly these weren’t the names we all had in mind when the offseason commenced. It’s been a relatively uneventful summer thus far, and that’s not an entirely bad thing.

For one, the Eastern Conference, mainly thanks to LeBron’s moving out west, is now as wide open as it has been in years. With the road to the Finals no longer having to go through LeBron Land, the conference title is pretty much up for grabs.

Of course this brings hope to teams like the Pacers, Wizards, Raptors, and Bucks, but the Sixers and Celtics are now the clear two best teams in the conference, just like the good ol’ days of the ’80s. And if the playoffs taught us anything about the Celtics, it’s that they have as much talent and depth as the Sixers do, so it’s going to be a dog fight to get to the Finals.

But these Sixers are only going to get better. Joel is having the first offseason of his pro career in which he can hone in on and improve every aspect of his game without having to focus on rehabbing an injury. Ben is only going to get better coming off his stellar season in which he won Rookie of the Year. And I truly believe that Markelle, who is spending the summer working with shooting coach extraordinaire Drew Hanlen, is going to show everybody why he was the first overall pick. This squad will undoubtedly improve significantly.

Furthermore, looking ahead, the summer of 2019 could have even more significance. It’s bound to be a DEEP free agency class, with names like Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, and many more expected to be looking for new deals.

When taking everything into account, the Sixers are projected to have $42 million in cap space heading into 2019, therefore opening up yet another opportunity for the Sixers to sign a star to a max deal next year.

So have the Sixers technically struck out in free agency thus far? One could say that. But I see no need to panic. This team just won 52 games in the regular season and snagged a playoff series victory.

Next: A guide to the Sixers' SL roster

They’re going to be contenders for many years to come, and as a wise man once said, “if you build it, they will come”.