Aside from one Keith Pompey note that Alex Rucker seems to be on his way out, it has been crickets on the in-depth evaluation of the Philadelphia 76ers front office. Yet, whether or not any shake-up takes place in upper management, the Sixers are going to have to deal with the current salary cap imprisonment of their own design. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will both be playing under their max contract extensions next season, while Tobias Harris and Al Horford will be making $34.4 million and $27.5 million, respectively. Aside from the WIP caller/national media hot take route of trading either Embiid or Simmons, any meaningful roster reconstruction has to come via moving Horford and/or Harris.
One of the paths forward in that regard goes through Oklahoma City, and it appears that the Sixers are considering the option. In an article on The Ringer yesterday, Kevin O’Connor reported the following: “League sources say the Sixers front office has seriously debated the idea of chasing CP3.”
Chris Paul is under contract next season for $41.4 million, with a $44.2 million player option in 2021-22 that the 35-year-old will be sure to pick up. After parting ways with head coach Billy Donovan earlier this week, all signs are pointing towards the Thunder being ready to go full rebuild, setting Paul up on the trading block. A deal centered around Paul for Al Horford, Mike Scott, and Matisse Thybulle would work financially, with the Sixers also sending back Oklahoma City’s own 2020 first-round pick at 21st overall and a future first.
From the Thunder’s perspective, Horford has one additional year under contract than Paul, but at only $14.5 million guaranteed, it would seem to be reasonable and possibly even useful as an expiring salary filler in that 2022-23 year. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City would save around $15 million per year in cap space the next two seasons between those two contracts, while also picking up a young, extremely promising wing in Thybulle and additional picks to add to their draft war chest.
For Philadelphia, it’s yet another example of sacrificing future flexibility for a win-now approach. But the front office has backed the team into a corner, and this is one of the few paths for the team to get meaningfully better over the next two years. Paul still played at an extremely high level during the regular season and playoffs this past year, and his shooting and playmaking from the guard position would fill the biggest glaring weak spot on the Sixers roster.
Ultimately, this kind of deal would leave the Sixers worse off when Paul’s contract expires in the summer of 2022. However, Paul’s arrival would raise this team’s ceiling significantly the next two seasons. If that change would prevent Embiid and Simmons from getting increasingly frustrated with the franchise, it might be right for whoever the Sixers have in the front office to do more than seriously debate the idea of bringing CP3 to PHL.