The Philadelphia 76ers have a payroll problem and the San Antonio Spurs could help them clear up their cap sheet while buying in on their present.
With $147.4 million due next season, the Philadelphia 76ers have the second-highest cap total going into the 2020-21 season. With the repeater tax and the luxury tax coming into effect, Philly’s ownership will certainly want to get some money off the books for a team that’s going into the restart as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. The San Antonio Spurs might be able to help them regain a hold on their cap situation.
Finding a trade to immediately rectify the problem won’t be easy —especially since Al Horford played like a shell of himself in his 13th NBA season. The more likely player to find a new home is Tobias Harris, whose contract is the most lucrative on a team featuring two All-Stars. Signing him to that max contract felt like more of a reaction to Jimmy Butler’s departure than it was a viable long-term option and now he’s being paid well above his value.
For San Antonio, the future is not solidified. There are some young players under contract through 2021 but most of their roster will be on expiring deals beginning next season. By moving off of expiring contracts and betting on their young core, the Spurs’ front office can enter a win-now mindset regardless of what happens next with their two leading scorers.
The San Antonio Spurs ship Rudy Gay, Patty Mills, Trey Lyles, a 2020 Second-Round Pick and a lottery-protected 2021 First-Round Pick for Tobias Harris, Zhaire Smith and Norvel Pelle.
There are a lot of moving parts in this deal but ultimately, it gives Philly a haul of serviceable role players that fit around their star players on expiring contracts. This way, they can take steps toward digging themselves out of the luxury tax. The Sixers would cut $6.3 million in salary starting this season with all of those players off the books the season after.
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Bringing Tobias Harris to the Spurs gives them a versatile offensive player who can fit in both forward spots and space the floor out for the slashers. Harris is only 28-years-old and is only just entering his prime, so San Antonio would have a borderline All-Star with a team-friendly playstyle into the picture while adding some size and shooting. It’s an amazing fit both on and off the court. While the price tag is pretty tough to swallow, it’s not like they have anyone else to give that kind of money to in the immediate future.
With Zhaire Smith, San Antonio brings in a prospect who was on many Spurs fans’ radars heading into his career. A spectacular athlete with excellent two-way potential, Smith has been plagued by health issues that the Spurs’ expert training staff can help him shake while promoting a healthier lifestyle. This is more of a swing and a project, but it’s a noteworthy addition who can help later on down the line.
Lastly, Norvel Pelle surprised some people this season. In his first season logging legitimate NBA minutes, Pelle is a high-energy backup big man who paid his dues in the G-League before making his way up to the big leagues. With big question marks surrounding the Spurs’ young big men, particularly Eubanks and Metu, Pelle is a nice backup with genuine room to grow.
You can find other articles in this series by clicking on the team name below:
Western Conference: LA Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies. Eastern Conference: Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks.