The Philadelphia 76ers have gone through some drastic highs and lows over the last few years, resulting in the storied franchise having a solid team with a superstar leading the way in Joel Embiid, but they never seem to be good enough to beat the best of the best in the Eastern Conference in the NBA playoffs.
With superstar guard James Harden being the latest star to want to leave Philadelphia, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith pointed out on “First Take” when things started to go wrong for the 76ers during their championship window.
Smith believes things went sideways for Embiid and the 76ers when they traded Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat, who has now made two NBA Finals appearances with his new team.
“If [Jimmy] had never departed from Philly & he was a teammate of Embiid, the 76ers wouldn’t be on this drought where they can’t get to a conf. finals. They would’ve gotten at least to a conf. finals by this point if they kept Jimmy instead of losing him to Miami” @stephenasmith pic.twitter.com/rMMmYeqkgC
— Dru (@dru_star) August 31, 2023
In Butler’s last game with the 76ers, superstar forward Kawhi Leonard hit a game-winner in Game 7 of their second-round playoff series that dramatically bounced on the rim a few times before going through the net as time expired to send the Toronto Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Ultimately, Leonard and company came out on top against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals to win the franchise’s first title while leaving the 76ers devastated and wondering what to do next.
Smith might be on to something that if the team had not moved Butler, then the team might’ve had better results over the last few years rather than watching Butler dominate the competition in the East and make it to the Finals twice.
However, there’s no telling what could’ve or would’ve happened if Butler stayed in Philadelphia, but it’s probably safe to say that if the team could do it over, they’d probably keep him on the roster.NEXT: Rachel Nichols Discusses James Harden's Reason To Request A Trade