Gordon Hayward left the Utah Jazz for the Boston Celtics after 7 wonderful seasons of building a fringe contender. Hayward had every incentive to remain in Utah, but didn’t. The good people of Salt Lake City are probably depressed, but other fans don’t care because this move has made them all realize their own mortality and starting to freak out about their favorite players will leave. No matter how far away it might be.
Teams are already anticipating Giannis Antetokounmpo leaving Milwaukee in 2021, but that’s shortsighted compared to what the people of Philadelphia have to worry about. Sixers fans were just celebrating the complete and utter success of The Process two weeks ago when they traded for the #1 pick. Now someone is already worried about how it will all end. In, like, a decade. Via Philly.com:
At some point, perhaps just as the Sixers are on the verge of ascending to the highest level, Embiid, then Saric, then Simmons, then Fultz will have the opportunity to become unrestricted free agents when they are around 27.
That’s the reality of the NBA. The Sixers could do everything right to build an upper-echelon team, and one day, through no fault of their own, it could fall apart because of the whims of one or two players.
Just ask the Utah Jazz about what happened with Gordon Hayward.
Scary stuff for Sixers fans, I’m sure. Joel Embiid will be a restricted free agent next summer so he’ll get locked up through 2022. Ben Simmons will be a restricted free agent in 2020 which means he’ll probably be in Philly through 2024. Same for Dario Saric. Then there’s Markelle Fultz who just turned 19 and hasn’t even signed his first contract yet. If everything goes well, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in about … 8 years. 2025. There could be a team on Mars by then. And Markelle Fultz might want to play there! Just burn down the factory producing Fultz jerseys now and save people the trouble of wasting precious lighter fluid in the post-apocalyptic future.
This is the insanity that takes place when a player leaves a 51-win team that won one playoff series for a 53-win team that won two playoff series. Financially, Hayward left a year and $46 million on the table to pick Boston over Utah. (When you consider the cost of living it’s more like $100 million.) You can see why people are worried about players leaving anywhere for anywhere else.
Even if that means worrying about what Markelle Fultz will do in 2025. The Sixers won 28 games last season and people are already starting to worry about the next rebuild. Maybe enjoy the actual ascent first?