The Philadelphia 76ers are now looking squarely at the future after ridding themselves of James Harden this week. Those plans reportedly may include a maximum contract for one of their remaining stars, Tyrese Maxey.
“The 76ers are preparing for Tyrese Maxey to be a max player in the summer of 2024 in free agency, I’m told,” said Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.
The 76ers traded Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers this week after months of speculation and an ugly feud with team executive Daryl Morey. That now leaves them with Maxey as arguably their second-best player behind reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid.
The 22-year-old guard looks to be in line for a huge payday following this season. A first-round pick (No. 21 overall) in the 2020 NBA Draft out of the University of Kentucky, Maxey is off to an excellent start to his fourth NBA campaign. In three games, he is averaging 30.3 points per contest and shooting 50.0 percent from the field, helping Philadelphia to a 2-1 start.
In addition to their plans for Maxey, the 76ers reportedly are looking to add another star after receiving some supporting players in the deal with the Clippers. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell has been mentioned as a possible target, along with Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls, O.G. Anunoby of the Toronto Raptors and Bojan Bogdanovic of the Detroit Pistons.
It all is an effort to keep Embiid happy and invested in a future with the 76ers. During the controversies surrounding Harden this offseason, it was mentioned that the center might be looking for a way out of Philadelphia.
Some NBA executives believe Harden’s departure will allow Tobias Harris to flourish, so adding another top player could push the 76ers up the list of title contenders this season and going forward.
Philadelphia has not reached the Eastern Conference Finals since its last trip to the NBA Finals in 2001. The 76ers have lost in the second round of the playoffs in five of the past six seasons and now face significant opposition from the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks and arguably also from the Cavaliers and Miami Heat.
A long-term commitment from Maxey and Embiid could prove to be attractive to other players who may be looking for a place they can contend for an NBA title.