PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 05: Jimmy Butler #23 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts against the Toronto Raptors in the first quarter of Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at the Wells Fargo Center on May 5, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

I am pleased with what the Sixers did last night under the circumstances.  I was team “run it back”, but I was told by an impeccable source that Butler did not like Brett Brown and that made “run it back” impossible.  It was never about the 5th year clearly,  Jimmy Butler didn’t want to play in Philly anymore.

The Sixers also parted with JJ Redick.  He was very good for the Sixers providing great spacing and leadership, but he is now 35 years old.  There aren’t any 35-year-old starting 2-guards in this league, so it was time to go unfortunately.  The Sixers replaced those 2 with Josh Richardson, who is only 25,  on a great contract and a plus defender and Al Horford.  Signing Horford to a 4-year deal at age 33 is less than optimal, but if the goal was to win now, this is a great move. It weakens the Celtics, takes a Joel Embiid nemesis onto the team, and adds more defensive versatility.  Plus, Horford is an excellent passer and above league average 3-point shooter.  Add that to the fact he will be the backup center and it’s a good deal in the short term.

The Sixers are also gigantic now in the starting lineup.  Nobody else in the league can go 6’10, 6’6’, 6’9, 6’10, 7’0 across their starting 5 unit.  In the playoffs they will be able to just smother opponents.  I also like bringing Mike Scott (who blocked me on twitter) back into the fold as well.  They are a little younger too, swapping 35-year-old JJ with 33-year-old Horford and 29-year-old Butler with 25-year-old Richardson.

These deals do come with some risks though.  Horford is 33 years old so he could possibly be in decline.  There is much more pressure on Ben Simmons to be able to run an offense late in games, something we have not seen against great competition.  Tobias Harris has to prove that last year’s playoff performance wasn’t the “real him” and he is still an ascending player.  Richardson has to show he can start on an elite team and not just a good, scrappy team.  Embiid will have to perform under control without the steadying hand of JJ who is a personal friend of his.

Adding this all up, I really like what the Sixers did.  They are able to throw more length & better defense at the Raptors and Bucks and take the training wheels off of Ben Simmons to allow him to flourish as the floor general.

The Sixers success will always be tied to Simmons growth, so it’s better to find out now if he can carry the load.  No team is perfect in the NBA, but the new Sixers are really long and will play really good defense and that is a style that will bring a championship to Philadelphia in the near future.

Hear Tyrone Johnson weekday afternoons as producer of “The Mike Missanelli Show”