By Sally Fahey

Okay, let’s dive deeply into the first few hours of NBA free agency for the Sixers:

They’re losing both Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick.

So how does general manager Elton Brand go about improving on the team that was just a four-bounce buzzer-beater away from making the East finals?

The decision to re-sign Tobias Harris to a five-year deal might have been made the moment Philly traded a king’s ransom for him and, in short, $180 million is probably too much for him.

With that out of the way, the Sixers convinced Al Horford to take less than $100 million guaranteed (less than what was reported as his market) and they did so with the caveat that Philly and Miami would agree on a sign-and-trade involving Butler and Josh Richardson, giving them a replacement at the two-guard for the departing Redick.

This could be evaluated as a swap of Butler and Redick for Horford and Richardson and, quite honestly, that isn’t a bad 2-for-2.

Then, when considering the reality that paying Butler a five-year max contract wasn’t ideal, nabbing a cost-controlled, two-way player in Richardson is incredibly important and Horford’s presence allows the Sixers to deploy versatile lineups, both with Joel Embiid on the floor and without him.

It is important to note that the Butler deal has hit a snag on Miami’s end, as they have to find a third team to make it work financially and the initial deal reported to involve the Mavs has fallen apart over confusion about who Dallas would be getting. That deal is still likely to get done, but it may have to wait until after a Kawhi Leonard decision is made, as the Lakers and Clippers are two of the three remaining teams that can absorb the money needed to facilitate a deal.


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