Despite a season marred by injury and a role that has shifted from starter to reserve and back to starter again, Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey has, once again, shown that he is among the brightest young stars in today’s NBA. Just 23 years old, Maxey is averaging a career-high 20.3 points with 3.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds, an especially potent third option behind stars James Harden and Joel Embiid.
More than that, Maxey has addressed one of the concerns about him that teams had entering the 2020 NBA draft, when Maxey was coming off a season in which he made 29.2% of his 3-pointers at Kentucky. In his third NBA season, Maxey has shown he is among the most efficient perimeter shooters in the league, making 43.4% of his attempts on 6.2 3-point tries per game.
That’s up from 30.1% as a rookie and an excellent 42.7% last season. Maxey, an excellent finisher at the rim, has also improved on midrange shooting.
All this puts the Sixers in an enviable position, except, that is, when it comes to having to pay Maxey. He is eligible for a contract extension this summer, and that extension has gone up significantly in value—in fact, executives around the league increasingly are saying that Maxey is headed for a max contract extension with the Sixers.
“They have a lot of big contracts they’re dealing with obviously,” one NBA GM told Heavy Sports. “But they’re going to have to make him another one. He’s a max guy.”
Maxey Exceeded Comparable Players
Entering the season, just what a Maxey contract extension would look like was a question that, it appeared, only Maxey’s play could answer. Given his consistent production and individual improvement, he’s done all he can to answer that.
Last offseason, Maxey’s potential new contract was looked at in comparison with other young guards who signed new deals. Those included Tyler Herro, who was signed by the Heat for four years and $130 million, as well as the Warriors’ Jordan Poole (four years, $123 million) and R.J. Barrett of the Knicks (four years, $110 million, plus incentives). The floor for Maxey was the deal that Anfernee Simons got in Portland, $100 million for four seasons.
But Maxey has moved well past those players. A max deal could be worth five years and about $200 million for Maxey, though he could choose to take a shorter deal to get himself to free agency—and a bigger share of the NBA’s new TV deal, expected to start in 2025-26—faster.
“They might have thought there was room to negotiate there,” one Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports. “But look at what the guy has done. He’s gotten better at every turn, his work ethic is really, really amazing from everyone around him. That’s what stands out. This guy is only getting better. Probably, there’s no negotiation, they’re going to have to max him out.”
James Harden’s Sixers Future in Question
The play of Maxey is one reason the Sixers have not been considered a sure bet to keep guard James Harden in place after this season. Harden will turn 34 in the offseason, and has struggled to stay healthy (and in good condition) in the last three seasons. He missed a month with a foot injury in November and December, and has dealt with an Achilles tendon problem more recently.
There might not seem to be much logic to it, but there continues to be talk that Harden, who has a player option for $35.6 million this summer, might bolt Philadelphia to return to his comfort zone in Houston, where he played more than eight seasons before forcing a trade in 2021.
Harden going to the Rockets is still a longshot, but the Sixers are ready to hand more responsibility to Maxey, whether Harden sticks around or not. Forward Tobias Harris’ max deal expires after next season, and there is a chance the Sixers could retool entirely around Maxey and Embiid.
“There are some in that organization who would not mind at all if Harden left,” the GM said. “I don’t think he will, but he could and even if he doesn’t, he is not going to get a real long deal from the Sixers. He is getting older, you don’t know how much of a commitment you want to make him. But Maxey, the guy is a culture-setter. He works hard, he is relentless. He has fit in with whoever they put him with, that is not easy to do in this league. Moving forward, they want him to be a face-of-the-franchise kind of guy. He has the talent. They have the belief in him. It is only a matter of time, really.”