#RunItBack. That’s the Mantra.
From the moment that Kawhi shot hit all the angles of the CN Tower in Toronto and tickled the twine to subsequently dash the hopes for a championship parade down Broad street, the mantra has been the same; #RunItBack.
If you’re at all involved in Sixers Twitter, you’ve no doubt seen the hashtag. That along with #MikeScottHive has helped a lot of us get through the agony of watching a team you were literally centimeters away from going to overtime against take the Larry O’Brien trophy north of the border. #RunItBack is simple in theory: all we want is for Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, JJ Redick and Mike Scott to sign free agent deals and see if next season, the ball bounces the right way (on a lesser tier of #RunItBack lies James Ennis, Boban and TJ, but they’re priority #2 after the big guns). If all that happens, I feel supremely confident that with another healthy offseason for our young stars (knock on all the wood you can find on that one), the Sixers have a great shot at winning a title in a league that hasn’t been this wide open since the late 90s.
Before we get to my feelings on the #RunItBack possibilities, I’m going to talk a little about last week's NBA Draft. Philly came into the night with five (5) total picks; one late first rounder and four 2nd rounders of varying levels of value. In that first round, the Sixers got hoodwinked. Bamboozled! Led astray! Run amok! All at the hands of the last team that you’d want that to happen; those damn Celtics. The Sixers ended up trading the 24th pick and the 33rd pick in the draft to move up 4 slots to select Matisse Thybulle, a wing out of the University of Washington. Sound familiar? Anyone remember the last time the Sixers traded up in the 1st round with Boston to pick a player from UW? For your sake I hope you’ve been in a coma for the last 30 months and your first decision after waking from said coma was to read this article. If that’s the case, let me bring you up to speed: Lebron is a Laker, Surge soda is BACK, and Markelle Fultz ruined all draft day trades for like 95% of Sixers fans. But I digress. The moral of the story is the Sixers telegraphed who they wanted to pick, the Celtics saw that and then held their guy at ransom. It’s a smart play by Danny Ainge, seeing how his team is rebuilding and could use all the assets he can get (you have no idea how happy it makes me feel to write that sentence). Either way, Thybulle (who will no doubt be called Thigh-Boul by any true philly dude) is a long, quick explosive defender who the Sixers could use on the perimeter. Like most of the rest of the team, shooting is a concern with Matisse, but his shot is in no way broken. Between him and Zhaire Smith you have two high energy, defensive minded wings and if at least one of them can learn shoot you’re cooking with gas all of a sudden.
Now to the rest of the draft, or lack thereof. They came away with just one (1) more player, a shooter from Iowa State via UVA whose name isn’t really important because he’s unlikely to play in the NBA anytime soon. Four (4) second round picks, just one (1) player to show for it. One of those picks went to Boston in the Thigh-Boul trade. That pick ended up being Carsen Edwards, the true Thigh-Boul (just look up his Sixers workout pics and you’ll see what I mean). Another pick was traded for future 2nd rounders and yet another was traded to dump the contract of Jonathan Simmons who was acquired as a part of the package that shipped Fultz out of town. It’s exhausting to be a Sixers fan, lemme tell ya. Now there’s no way of knowing if this draft is a success or a failure just yet obviously, no player picked has hit an NBA court yet. The big problem is that the Sixers say they want to spend this offseason. With that spending they’re going to need cheaper talent at the back of the rotation to fill in during the season and just in the case of an injury emergency. By punting on those 2nd rounders all you do is deny yourself that chance of a lottery ticket, just to line the pockets of the major investors of the team. None of this will really matter if they #RunItBack, but again, we don’t know thats happening for sure just yet. All I know is when free agency starts at 6 o’clock on Sunday, I better not hear one peep about the Sixers being hesitant to pay a luxury tax. They made that money back when they traded Jon Simmons away with a pick that could’ve been Bol Bol man!
Now, onto free agency. I’m going to list some of the big name free agents and explain why the Sixers could use them and what I think the chances are that they ultimately choose the City of Brotherly Love. With no further ado, here come the Rosebud Rankings™.
Kawhi Leonard- I want to hate Kawhi, I really I do. But the dude is just so thorough, I couldn’t hate em if I tried. He single handedly beat the Sixers over the course of seven games and then finally got some help from his boys in the Eastern Conference and NBA Finals and got himself a 2nd Finals MVP at the tender age of 27. I think the most I accomplished at that age was paying rent AND utilities on time while still being able to feed myself, this dude beat Lebron and Steph in the finals; pretty equal footing honestly. He’d be incredible on the Sixers; just imagine if Jimmy Butler was like 15-20% better and how much that would’ve benefited the Sixers last year. The defensive core’s potential with Jo, Kawhi and Ben would be top 5 of all time in this man’s humble opinion. I don’t think there’s much of a chance he comes to Philly, he’s sticking in Toronto or going, going, back, back, to Cali, Cali.
Chances Kawhi comes to Philly: 2.5%; My prediction: L.A. Clippers
Kevin Durant- Won’t be playing much next season if at all after suffering an Achilles injury in the playoffs, but that didn’t stop him from waiving his 30 million dollar player option. He’s getting a max from someone, that’s for sure. Him in Philly would be amazing as well, he occupies a lot of perimeter spots where Jo and Ben don’t and would fill out the offense well. On defense it would be good, not as great with KD getting older and coming of an Achilles injury, but still solid. Again, I highly doubt he’d come to Philly, but it’s nice to dream…
Chances KD comes to Philly: 1%; My prediction: NY Knicks
Kyrie Irving- N/A aka don’t careeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Chances Kyrie comes to Philly; < 1% (lord willing. He’s a great player, but I don’t need Kyrie telling Ben to keep his third eye open and bringing funky patchouli incense into the locker room, Zhaire might be allergic.) My prediction; Brooklyn Nets
Jimmy Butler- You know what Jimmy do; the man gets BUCKETS. We saw him last year go scorched earth in the playoffs, completely validating Elton Brand for trading for him and me for telling anyone who wanted to talk about him being a bad fit or being a malcontent to just wait for the playoffs. Him and Jo seem to be kindred spirits, their post-game press conferences together felt like a two man comedy routine that had been touring the country for decades. Jimmy brings the grit and grime this team needs. Jo is the leader on the team, but Jimmy was the heart beat, if he was on they could beat anyone. I’ll have that look he gave the camera after hitting that final shot in that win against the Celtics seared into my brain forever. Jimmy is an incredible closer and still a border-line elite defender, and if he comes back the Sixers are a top 3-4 team in this league. Period. So please Jimmy, #RunItBack with us bud. (note: as I’m writing this, news came in that the Lakers are expanding the Anthony Davis trade and maneuvering around parts to have a max slot open. This will drop my Sixers chances slightly, but I still believe Jimmy wants to get buckets rockin’ that Red, White and Blue)
Chances Jimmy stays in Philly: 75%; My prediction: Jimmy signs for the full 5 years, 190 million dollars max and we all rejoyce :)
Klay Thompson- Klay is one of the chillest dudes in the NBA. I don’t really know if that helps anyone’s game, but it makes me like you more for sure. Anywho, I don’t think Klay is really entertaining leaving the west coast, he seems like he does just fine out west, but he’d be a hell of a fit. After Kawhi, KD and Jimmy, Klay is the only person I think we could add to the Sixers that would make them a title contender. He’s a great defender, hits every three in the world and loves scaffolding, what more could you want?
Chances Klay comes to Philly: 5%; My prediction: GSW
Tobias Harris- Toby scares me. I think he enjoyed his time in Philly, but I also think he could shine elsewhere. There’s no way a guy as good as Toby would not want to showcase his skills on another team where he’d be a top 2-3 option, In Philly he’s 4th at best, and was 5th on days where JJ was cookin’. He has only gotten better over the years and became a legit 3 point sharpshooter. He had a bad end to the season and didn’t shoot well so plenty of people are down on him in Philly. I think with a full off-season to figure it out, Tobias would have his niche carved out and be extremely efficient if not elite. I hope Toby wants to #RunItBack, but I also think if Brooklyn strikes out they might give him a buttload of cash.
Chances Toby stays in Philly: 55%; My prediction: My heart says Philly, but my head says they don’t offer him a max and him and Kyrie team up in BK. I hope my head is wrong...
Kris Middleton- He’d be a level down from Jimmy/Klay, but serves the same purpose basically. He’s a wing defender that can create a bit, but he’s not the guy I want to put all my trust into. If he’s coming to the Sixers something terrible has happened.
Chances he comes to the Sixers: 3%; My prediction: Milwaukee
Malcom Brogdon- Another guy who would be good on the Sixers, but if he’s here something probably went wrong. He’s a versatile defender and would fit very well next to Ben, but not a closer and can’t really create for himself. He’s also a restricted free agent, so trying to sign him would tie up their cap space and also would probably mean Toby or Jimmy isn’t staying.
Chances he comes to Philly: 35%; My prediction: probably back in Milwaukee, but I think he’d fit really well in a place like Pheonix or Indiana next to ball dominant backcourt guys like Booker and Oladipo.
Kemba Walker- Kemba KILT (yes, that kilt with a capital T) the Sixers last season. He put up Sixty (60!) in a game they ultimately lost (thank you Jimmy Butler stepbacks), so of course I’d like him on the Sixers as opposed to playing against him. But again, he’s a backup plan. He doesn’t fit as well as Brogdon would because he’s more ball dominant and not as big as versatile on both sides of the ball as a guy like Jimmy or Middleton is, but i’d take him.
Chances he comes to Philly: 10%; My prediction: he teams up with KD in NY, gets a season to bask in the NY-ness all by himself before the Knicks are a contender in 2020-21, if not the Lakers bright lights are callin’ him.
D’angelo Russel- Another guy I like, but ultimately is a back up plan. He’s a guy who I wanted when the Sixers had the #3 pick in the 2015 draft (Jahlill Okafor still rolls out of bed and drops 20-10 legend has it...) and has turned himself into an All-Star, but ultimately is a liability on defense. He can light it up on the other end, but I’d rather someone else take him.
Chances he comes to Philly: 12.5%; My prediction- Pheonix or Indiana, whichever team doesn’t sign Brogdon in my own FA scenario, or a reunion in LA just keep Swaggy P far away...
JJ Redick- Part of the #RunItBack gang, so of course I’d like him back. Now that the Lakers have cleared a full max I feel slightly better about JJ coming back since they’re going to be star hunting all off season most likely. Still a chance he bolts, but I really believe he wants to stay on the East coast with his family, and seeing how he has no social media, how would he keep up with everyone on the opposite coast?
Chances he stays in Philly: 80%; My prediction: #RunItBack gang
Hal Alford- Not sure he’s an actual person, but his ghost haunts Embiid’s dreams still. Again, he’s a break in case of emergency kinda case.
Chances he comes to Philly: 22%; My prediction: he goes to New Orleans and the Pellies all of a sudden are a top 4 team in the West
Mike Scott- #MikeScottHive <Chances he comes back to Philly: TO ∞ AND BEYOND!;
My prediction: I get a #MikeScottHive tattoo after he drills a game winner in game 7 of the finals right in Anthony Davis’ GRILL!!!
Ed Roseboro (@ESRosebud)
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