Josh Harris, the owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, was blamed by Liberty Ballers’ Dave Early for the team not retaining five-time All-NBA selection and 2023 Eastern Conference Finals MVP Jimmy Butler during the 2019 free agency period.
“Sixers’ managing partner Josh Harris deserves the lion’s share of the blame for basically forming and leading a ‘collaborative’ front office that reportedly huddled up and decided against dropping a five-year max on ‘Himmy Buckets,'” Early wrote.
Punctuated by the Sixers’ elimination during the 2022 postseason at the hands of the Miami Heat, Butler’s departure from Philadelphia has led to a boom period in South Beach and perpetual second-round exits for the 76ers since the 2019 offseason.
In fact, the Sixers were closest to an Eastern Conference Finals appearance when Butler was uniform and Philadelphia lost in Game 7 to the Toronto Raptors on a series-ending buzzer-beater from eventual 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
As the Sixers star into the abyss of another rebuild — with James Harden’s rumored free agency departure being the potential first domino in an impending descent down the standings — Butler’s presence in the 2023 Finals serves as a stark reminder of the front office’s past mistakes.
‘Miraculously,’ Joel Embiid Hasn’t Asked for Sixers Trade
Early finds it to be a minor miracle that Embiid hasn’t asked the Sixers’ brain trust to find him a new NBA home given the front office’s inability to put together a winning roster around the 2022-23 MVP — and warned that the league is likely monitoring his happiness in Philadelphia as the big man watches his friend and former teammate uplift a roster filled with undrafted players under the brightest lights.
“Somehow miraculously, Joel Embiid never asked for a trade (that we know of), but rivals are surely checking his temperature as Jimmy continues shredding the East,” Early wrote.
ESPN’s Tim McMahon reported on The Hoops Collective Podcast that the New York Knicks are hoping things “go haywire” with the Sixers and Embiid in hopes of landing the Cameroonian colossus.
“They’re not hoping for patience, they’re hoping for The Process,” McMahon wrote. “I don’t know if that’s coming, but they’ve looked at that situation in Philly and there’s been a hope in New York that stuff in Philly will go haywire to the point where Embiid will ask out. I don’t know the percentage odds on that, I would say they are slim, but that’s been the hope.”
Analyst Says 2023 NBA Finals Lose-Lose for Sixers
If Butler doesn’t end up winning the 2023 NBA Finals with his new team, Sixers fans might then be losing even more by watching two-time former MVP Nikola Jokic lead the Denver Nuggets to their first title in franchise history according to PhillyVoice’s Eytan Shander.
“The obvious choice on social media was people would rather see Jimmy over Nikola win, I get that from what Jokic winning does to de-value Embiid and the Sixers,” Shander prefaced before saying, “But don’t underestimate what Miami winning means in relation to highlighting the true depths of failure exhibited by the 76ers.”
If Philadelphia’s Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics wasn’t painful enough, the results of the Finals may just do the trick.