Tyrese Maxey

What are the 76ers Doing with Tyrese Maxey?

30 June, 2023

Tyrese Maxey of the 76ers is one of the NBA’s quickest emerging talents. Maxey has developed into a borderline All-Star since Philadelphia took him with the 21st overall pick in the 2020 draft, while primarily playing in the MVP-sized shadows of Joel Embiid and James Harden.

Maxey, a 22-year-old guard with a well-regarded work ethic, has a very high ceiling in the NBA, but the Sixers don’t intend to extend his contract this offseason, a league source revealed to CBS Sports.

Exactly why not?

The solution is rather straightforward and mostly depends on future financial adaptability. The Sixers save cap space for the upcoming summer, when they may be able to potentially open up two max-salary slots, by choosing not to extend Maxey at this time. Next summer, Tobias Harris, who is expected to earn close to $40 million next season, and James Harden, who just chose to exercise his $35 million player option for the 2023–24 season, will both be eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Next summer, both of those players will no longer be on Philadelphia’s books, and the team will have plenty of leeway to maneuver as long as it doesn’t take any significant long-term wages in exchange for either of those players in any future transactions. Joel Embiid is the only member on Philadelphia’s roster who presently has a 2024–25 season salary guaranteed. (P.J. Tucker is anticipated to exercise his player option.)

The Sixers may only have Embiid’s projected $51 million salary, Tucker’s $11.5 million player option, and a $13 million restricted free agency cap hold for Maxey going into the upcoming offseason. If the team’s ownership continues to be prepared to spend heavily, the Sixers may use the extra cap room created to acquire unrestricted outside free agents and then still take care of Maxey with a lucrative, multi-year deal.

Furthermore, by not extending Maxey this summer, the Sixers won’t necessarily be at immediate risk of losing him. If no extension is agreed upon, Maxey will be a restricted free agency the next summer, giving the Sixers the chance to match any offers from other parties. Therefore, even in the absence of an extension, they continue to have full authority over his NBA future. By choosing this route, the Sixers might be able to secure a future that includes Embiid, plenty of salary cap flexibility for bringing in additional players, and the capacity to keep Maxey for an extended period of time.

Maxey can be included in a trade in the present with less money and less time left on his contract if his contract is not extended, which also makes it simpler. Maxey may have been passed over by the Sixers in order to use him as a key element in a deal for Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard this winter, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

Maxey is not currently available in trade negotiations since the Sixers remain highly high on him going ahead, a league source familiar with the issue told CBS Sports. However, it’s possible it played a part in the team’s decision-making process. But being unavailable does not make someone “untouchable,” and in the NBA, anything may happen at any time. If Lillard ultimately requests to leave Portland, as many have long anticipated, Maxey’s availability might change.

The Sixers’ decision is not without risk. The organizational risk of postponing an extension is that Maxey, who is unquestionably deserving of one by any objective criterion, may get irritated, incensed, alienated, or the relationship with the organization may deteriorate. The possibility of a career-altering injury is unavoidable, therefore a player would always prefer to have the long-term stability that comes with an extension rather than delaying it. Maxey most likely wouldn’t be the first player to feel betrayed by such a choice in league history.

The Sixers must hope that doesn’t occur since there have been some recent instances where a team’s decision to postpone a contract to a vital piece has backfired. The dilemma might be resolved if the team and player have open lines of communication. Yes, there is risk, but if Maxey can handle it, the move might ultimately out to be very advantageous for the Sixers in the long run.

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