Philadelphia 76ers bet on Tobias Harris to make their 'Big 4'
Li Xiang

The NBA's Philadelphia 76ers have agreed to send Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala plus the team's 2020 protected first-round draft pick, unprotected 2021 first-rounder of the Miami Heat and two second-rounders (2021 and 2023) to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Mike Scott, Boban Marjanovic and most importantly, Tobias Harris who could help the 76ers make their own "Big 4" together with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Woj followed up by reporting that Philadelphia planned to keep all four players, including Harris and Butler who will become free agents this summer, via new contracts.

The deal was simple for the Clippers: They did not want to give a maximum contract to Harris this summer as they have bigger plans on the free agent market then. Instead of letting him go for free, the team acquired a 26th overall one-year rookie guard and four future draft picks, all young assets that could be used by themselves or as valuable assets. As for Chandler and Muscala, their contracts will be due in the summer, adding about 17.8 million U.S. dollars to the Clippers payroll.

Joel Embiid #21, Ben Simmons #25 and Jimmy Butler are the "Big 3" of the Philadelphia 76ers. /VCG Photo

Joel Embiid #21, Ben Simmons #25 and Jimmy Butler are the "Big 3" of the Philadelphia 76ers. /VCG Photo

Things were more complicated for the 76ers. Like Chandler and Muscala, Marjanovic and Scott will also see their contracts come to an end this summer so they don't matter much. Harris, by contrast, is the key to this trade. With 20.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists on average in his 55 games so far this season, the 26-year-old forward would make it to the All-Star in the Eastern Conference. Moreover, his 43 percent of 3-pt rate is exactly what Philadelphia need. In this way, Harris makes the perfect choice for a member of Big 4.

Now that we've finished the sweet part, it's time to take a look at the bitter part. First is problem 101 for any team with multiple star players: How do they share one ball? Before Harris arrives, Philadelphia's head coach Brett Brown has been scratching his brain to find a way for Embiid, Simmons and Butler to get along and so far it has not gone well.

Embiid #21 and Simmons of the 76ers. /VCG Photo

Embiid #21 and Simmons of the 76ers. /VCG Photo

Embiid is most powerful in the paint and he needs the ball. Simmons has the size of a forward but he is a point guard in nature and he doesn't shoot unless he's in the paint, meaning that he needs to handle the ball, too. As for Butler, he kept asking for more ball possessions since he joined Philadelphia and he's not happy with what he has currently, not to mention sharing them with others.

Second, the 76ers do not have much time. Since the team traded Robert Covington and Dario Saric for Butler, they made it clear that Philadelphia did not want to wait and must win at the moment. It's true that they can afford to give Butler and Harris enough money for them to stay in 2019 summer, if the two choose to do so. However, one year later, they will feel the pressure because the team must extend the contract of Simmons with probably a maximum deal. After that, the 76ers will know what it feels to carry four maximum contracts. According to the Oklahoma City Thunder, it feels more than terrible.

Jimmy Butler of the 76ers. /VCG Photo

Jimmy Butler of the 76ers. /VCG Photo

Third, is this franchise good enough to win the championship? With Embiid, Simmons, Butler, Harris and J.J. Reddick as the team's first-choice lineup, Philadelphia are intimidating enough but definitely not unmatched. In the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors, the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks all have enough resources to confront the 76ers on the court. In the West, quoting a widely spread joke on the internet: "If the Golden State Warriors lose two of their All-Star-level players, they only have three left."

Simply speaking, since they chose Butler, Philadelphia could not turn back. After the Harris trade, the only way to make sure that they made the right choice is to win the NBA Championship.