Over the last four years, the Philadelphia 76ers have experienced about as much turnover as any. Despite Jimmy Butler, Danny Green, JJ Redick, and Al Horford all coming and going to Philadelphia, the Sixers have maintained their status atop the Eastern Conference.
Amidst all of the change, Tobias Harris has been a steady constant in Philadelphia. Well, his presence has, at the very least. But Harris’ role with the Sixers has rotated endlessly since he was traded to Philadelphia in 2019. And with a new season on the horizon, Harris faces yet another new role with the Sixers.
Most recently, Harris was playing the four, with Matisse Thybulle occupying the small forward spot along with Danny Green. With the arrival of PJ Tucker to Philadelphia, Harris will likely slot back in at the three. But Harris isn’t worried about the potential adjustment.
“Doc (Rivers) says the three and the four are pretty identical. Probably the only adjustment would be who you’re guarding defensively. Last year, I was guarding twos, threes, fours. So, I don’t think it’s that much of an adjustment, to be honest. They’re identical positions,” Harris said at the Sixers’ media day ahead of training camp.
Earlier in the week, Rivers challenged the notion that Tucker was guaranteed a spot at power forward.
PJ Tucker Could Play Small Forward for 76ers
During training camp this week, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers revealed a few different lineup packages that Philadelphia was experimenting with. And surprisingly, one lineup included Tucker at small forward, with a Sixers youngster filling in at the four.
“With PJ (Tucker), it’s probably more 3 than 4 because we want PJ to be in his spots. We ran some Paul Reed at the 4 and Joel at the 5, and we ran some today with Tobias at the 4 and a small guy at the 3. We moved that around a lot today,” Rivers said during training camp last week.
Reed is a versatile defender capable of playing either center or power forward. But for all of Reed’s promise, he’s incredibly raw, evident in his limited showing during the playoffs last season. When Embiid went down with injury, Reed was pressed into service, where he averaged 3.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in just over 13.3 minutes of action against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
If Reed does break through at training camp, it could go a long way towards guaranteeing his spot on the roster. As it stands, the Sixers have a bit of a roster crunch heading into the preseason.
Breaking Down the 76ers’ Roster Crunch
As it stands, the Sixers have 17 people under some form of a contract next season. But per league rules, a team can only carry 15 players under contract during the regular season. That means a few difficult roster choices loom for Philadelphia on the horizon.
Reed, Charles Bassey, Isaiah Joe, and Trevelin Queen are all under non-guaranteed contracts next year. This means that if the Sixers don’t find a trade partner to pull off a three-for-one trade to get under the contract max, two of these four are likely to go.
With Reed seeming to stake his claim to a roster spot last week, he’ll need to continue that momentum through Philadelphia’s preseason games to truly be safe.