The Sixers' core

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Elton Brand: 'We expect to keep this core together'

Andrew Porter
February 08, 2019 - 10:44 am

Elton Brand says the Philadelphia 76ers, "We expect to keep this core together."

Related: 10 knee-jerk thoughts: Sixers trade for Tobias Harris​

With both Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler set to become unrestricted free-agents after the season and covet max contracts (or close to it)—and Joel Embiid already on a rookie scale max and Ben Simmons soon to sign his—each one of those four players will be making close to $30 million per season in the near future. 

That means Sixers' ownership is willing to spend over $130 million per season (salary cap projected to be $109 million in 2019-20, $118 million in 2020-21) on four players to keep the current core together, almost certainly going over the projected $143 million luxury tax to pay the remaining 11 players on the roster. 

"I've gotten all insurances from the managing partners that we can bring them back, and sign them for what we need to sign them for," Elton Brand said of Butler and Harris during Friday's press conference. 

The max contracts will continue to grow as the contracts age, and that core four could earn closer to $150 million combined in 2022-23, according to Derek Bodner. And all of this is without even mentioning JJ Redick, who has become an integral part of Philadelphia's half court offense. 

Embiid is under contract through 2022-23 and Simmons will assuredly sign his five-year rookie scale max by the summer of 2020. Harris, just 26 years old, is extremely likely to sign a five-year max contract this summer with Philadelphia. Harris said on Thursday he feels, "This can be a long-term partnership."

That means the Sixers will very likely have, at the very at least, a core three of Embiid, Simmons, and Harris—all 26 and under—until at least 2023. 

Butler, however, is a question mark. At 29 years old, Butler has seen his minutes, scoring, and three-point percentage dip a bit since joining Philadelphia. And now, with Embiid, Harris and Redick, Butler becomes the team's fourth-scoring option.

The length and value of Butler's next contract, and if Philadelphia even wants to re-sign him, will be determined mostly by this upcoming postseason.

The last thing I'll add is this—over the last few seasons the Sixers' "core" has changed a lot. With guys like Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Markelle Fultz, Jimmy Butler, and now Tobias Harris in and out, there have be two constants the entire time keeping this thing all together and that's Simmons and Embiid. Those are the two pillars of the franchise, built by Sam Hinkie. Those are the two guys that either will or will not lead this team to an NBA championship. 

Those are the two guys that matter most.