Sixers: 5 biggest questions entering the offseason

James Harden, Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
James Harden, Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Sixers’ biggest offseason questions: Have we seen the last of Tobias Harris?

Tobias Harris probably deserves better than this. More than perhaps any of Sixer, he really showed up this postseason. His effort was there every night, he brought it on both sides of the ball, and he played the best basketball of his career in the process. Harris deserves his flowers despite the disappointing finish. That said, we can’t ignore the contract. We can never ignore the dang contract.

Next season, Harris is due $37.6 million. He is due $39.2 million for the 2023-24 season. Those numbers are simply not on par with his impact. Harris was integral to the Sixers all season, but he’s not giving them enough for that price tag. And that contract in particular is why the Sixers’ financial flexibility is so limited.

Prior to the trade deadline and even after the Harden trade, we heard rumblings of Philadelphia potentially dumping Harris’ contract in the offseason. Is that still on the table? If the Sixers can dump Harris into another team’s open cap space, it would open up the opportunity to either sign another major free agent or two. Or, if the Sixers can find the right partner, they could swap Harris for lesser players on more affordable deals.

That being said, it’s really hard to get off of a contract of that magnitude. Teams aren’t going to view Harris as a positive-value contract even after his strong postseason. The Sixers would have to give up assets (on top of the two first-round picks already sent out in the Harden trade) to make a team like OKC or Detroit even consider it.

Harris’ willingness to embrace his role as a two-way, 3-and-D forward at season’s end makes him a lot more palatable to keep around. The Sixers should be content bringing Harris back if need be. But without getting rid of Harris, the Sixers can essentially rule out impact free agents or a blockbuster trade.