Sixers make significant moves on the first day of NBA free agency

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics

After weeks and months of rumors, NBA free agency officially opened up at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The biggest story of the day was Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving teaming up to play for the Brooklyn Nets. However, the Indiana Pacers loaded up too as they reportedly signed Malcolm Brogdon to a four-year deal via a sign-and-trade with the Milwaukee Bucks and signed former Charlotte Hornets wing Jeremy Lamb to a three-year deal.

The Boston Celtics made up for the loss of Kyrie Irving by acquiring three-time All-Star point guard Kemba Walker. Meanwhile, in Toronto, fingers are still crossed with the hopes that they will be able to re-sign Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

If you haven’t noticed the trend here, most of the early free agent movement has happened in the Eastern Conference. This raised a very loaded question: What are the Philadelphia 76ers doing to keep up?

Since none of these deals can be finalized yet, let’s just do a quick rundown of the moves that they were able to make on the first day of free agency.

Before we knew what direction the team would be going in, the first loss we learned about on Sunday was veteran guard J.J. Redick heading to New Orleans to team up with this year’s first overall pick, Zion Williamson and not returning to the Sixers.

According to multiple reports, Redick will be signing a two-year, $26.5 million deal with the Pelicans.

The other loss, however, may be a blessing disguised as a misfortune. Heading into Sunday, it was pretty clear that Jimmy Butler did not have much intention at all on resigning with the Sixers.

Many outlets reported throughout the week that the team would explore a sign-and-trade option for Butler, with the two main suitors being the Houston Rockets and Miami Heat.

As the last 24-36 hours went by, it became clear that he had his sights set on South Beach. While the details aren’t finalized yet, it was confirmed on Sunday night that Butler will go to the Heat in a sign-and-trade deal.

Philadelphia will reportedly be getting guard Josh Richardson in return, with the possibility of obtaining some other pieces. Along with the Sixers, it was also reported that the Dallas Mavericks would be the third team to put the finishing touches on the deal.

However, according to The Athletic’s Tim Cato, the Mavs pulled out from the trade, meaning that the Heat need to find another team with cap space to take on additional contracts.

After losing two key pieces in Butler and Redick, how could the Sixers make the most of an interesting situation in one of the most important summers in recent NBA history?

First, the team had to make sure they at least kept one of their two additions from this past season. Tobias Harris re-signed with the team for a reported five-year, $180 million deal.

This contract may seem a bit pricey in the eyes of many fans, but it was crucial that the Sixers kept Harris with so many players going off the board early on and losing Butler.

In addition to treating Harris to a huge payday, Philadelphia was also able to sign former Celtics center Al Horford to a reported four-year, $109 million deal.

The signing of Horford signifies that the Sixers are still in win-now mode. Not only do they take away a very important piece from their rivals in Boston, but they also added the size and depth that they’ve needed to give Joel Embiid relief in various game situations.

The 33-year-old Horford is a leader in the locker room and will play a vital role on both ends of the floor.

Nevertheless, we do have some sense of a direction that the Sixers will be going in, which is a positive outlook for the rest of the summer

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