The NBA offseason was one for the ages. A crazy amount of top-end talent changed teams, either by trades or free agency decisions. Six of the 15 players to make All-NBA teams last season are now part of new franchises. The draft has passed, so have many trades, and teams are finally starting to get settled as they prepare for the upcoming season. That means we can assess which teams have improved the most entering the 2019-20 seasons.
Here are seven teams who have done the most to improve themselves over the course of the NBA offseason.
7. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers weathered Victor Oladipo’s absence fairly well last season, winning 48 games and finishing fifth in the conference. Oladipo should be back this season, and the Pacers have made moves to improve the supporting cast around him. The big move was adding restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon from the Milwaukee Bucks. Other additions like Jeremy Lamb and T.J. Warren will provide forward depth. With Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner already holding down the frontcourt and Oladipo expected back sometime around the start of 2020, they’ll be a formidable bunch, despite the loss of Bojan Bogdanovic.
If the Philadelphia 76ers fail to win a championship in the next five years or so, their fans certainly cannot blame the front office for a lack of financial commitment to the roster.
As expected, Ben Simmons agreed to a five-year, $170 million rookie max extension with the Sixers on Monday. The contract came in an offseason where Philly also shelled out $180 million over five years to keep Tobias Harris and signed Al Horford to a four-year, $109 million deal. And let’s not forget the five-year, $148 million extension Joel Embiid got prior to the 2017-18 season.
Apparently trusting “The Process” costs a lot of dough. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes, the 76ers will have well over a half-billion dollars invested in their four core players when Simmons’ extension kicks in starting in 2020-21.
Starting in 2020-21, Philadelphia will make a $580M investment between four players: Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Al Horford and now Ben Simmons. The 76ers next season have $148M in salary between 11 players- $6M over the projected luxury tax threshold…. https://t.co/AFgSOfr0UZ
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 15, 2019
With all the money they have spent, it’s hard to believe the 76ers did not offer one star player the max contract he was seeking. They clearly have a vision, however, and they feel their current roster is the one that is going to bring them a title. Their payroll says it all.
As has been widely expected, Ben Simmons has agreed to a max contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Simmons’ agent Rich Paul told Shams Charania of The Athletic that Simmons has agreed to the five-year, $170 million max deal he was eligible for, locking him down in Philadelphia long-term.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 15, 2019
Simmons turns 23 next week. He’s coming off a season which saw him average 17.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.1 assists as the Sixers came frustratingly close to reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Philadelphia 76ers watched as emotional leader Jimmy Butler departed this summer, but the team’s general manager has players in mind to fill the void.
GM Elton Brand revealed that he is expecting guard Ben Simmons and newly re-signed forward Tobias Harris to step up and fill the leadership void both on and off the court.
“We are making those bets on those perimeter players,” Brand told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps on Friday. “Of course we’re going to bet on Joel [Embiid] when it’s time to bet on him.
“But I envision they will. I envision them stepping up, for sure, and rising to the occasion when it is crunch time, for sure.”
Butler was looked towards to take the big shots in close games, and he did so successfully in his brief time with Philadelphia. His departure leaves no obvious option for the Sixers in that regard, but there’s a clear confidence that Simmons and Harris can do it, or at least an expectation.
Jimmy Butler officially left the Philadelphia 76ers for the Miami Heat on Saturday, and the Sixers sent him packing with a rather hilarious flub.
As has become customary for departing superstars, the Sixers’ official Twitter account posted an image wishing Butler farewell in his new home. There was only one problem: they messed up his last name.
jimmy buter pic.twitter.com/S8HvKecwNi
— Tim Cato (@tim_cato) July 6, 2019
Amazingly, the tweet stayed up for roughly a half hour amid a lot of derision before the team finally deleted it.
First the Sixers wouldn’t give Butler a max deal, now this. In seriousness, it’s a simple mistake to make, and typos happen to everyone. This was just a bad time for one to happen, and one would think that someone would have spotted it before it went up for everyone else to spot instead.
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The Philadelphia 76ers were unable to bring back Jimmy Butler on a max contract this offseason, but they have wasted no time cutting an equally massive check for another one of their players.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Sixers have offered Ben Simmons a five-year, $170 million max extension, and Simmons is expected to accept once details are sorted out.
Philadelphia has offered a five-year, $168M maximum contract extension to Ben Simmons and the Sixers and agent Rich Paul are expected to work through the details toward an eventual agreement, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 2, 2019
Under new salary cap projections, Ben Simmons' maximum contract total has crept slightly higher: $170M. https://t.co/44s3FLz1rf
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 2, 2019
Simmons is currently playing on a four-year, $26.6 million rookie contract and is scheduled to become a restricted free agent following next season. The former No. 1 overall pick averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game last year.
The 76ers are now committed to Simmons and Joel Embiid as their core for years to come, with Embiid currently signed through the 2022-2023 season. They also added Al Horford to their frontcourt this week, and they could be the favorites in the Eastern Conference depending upon where Kawhi Leonard ends up.
The Philadelphia 76ers will retain at least one of their two big free agents.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, forward Tobias Harris has agreed to stay with the Sixers on a five-year, $180 million max deal.
Free agent forward Tobias Harris has agreed to a five-year, $180M contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, his agent and father, Torrel Harris of Unique Sports Management, tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Harris actually saves the 76ers a bit of money in taking this deal, as he could have made $190 million.
Harris was a key part of the Sixers last season after being acquired in a midseason deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. He averaged 18.2 points per game during the regular season after the trade.
The 76ers’ chances of retaining their other star free agent, Jimmy Butler, are less clear. That’s a lot of money to invest in Harris, and reports indicate that Butler may be looking elsewhere. Still, keeping one of the two is huge, and ensures that Philadelphia can remain an Eastern Conference contender next season.