“We believe we are in position to contend now, and our moves reflect that belief.”
By Julie Glass
That was what Sixers general manager Elton Brand said back in February after reshaping his team’s roster for a second time in just a few months on the job.
It also was a clear signal of intent for Philly’s immediate expectations.
Which, by the way, are now at 59 percent to win this round and advance to the Eastern Conference finals against either Boston or Milwaukee, according to ESPN.
Owner Josh Harris doubled down on that belief when he declared to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, “I think we have enough talent to win [it all]. We want to make sure, at a minimum, to advance deeper in the playoffs than we did last year.”
So what happens to the Sixers now?
They’ll have to spend big bucks to keep Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler. Ditto for JJ Redick, who signed a second consecutive one-year deal and will be a sought-after free agent despite being 34.
Then there is Joel Embiid, whose health remains a long-term question mark, no matter how much he gets frustrated by that line of thinking.
Embiid is good enough that having a healthy version of him can alone keep the Sixers in contention.
But to truly remain among the East’s elite, they are going to need to retain at least two of Harris, Butler and Redick — if not all three — while making additions to the bench, which has been a major weakness after big moves this season.