The 2019 NBA Offseason is shaping up to be one of the most critical times for the Philadelphia 76ers in quite some time. Last year, the offseason was spent not only trying to replace their former General Manager, Bryan Colangelo - but it was also spent trying to lure in the top Free Agent on the market in LeBron James. Obviously, we all know that both plans ended up ultimately failing, and the Sixers didn't really find success in the offseason.

This year, things are a bit different. Instead of entering the NBA Draft and Free Agency with Brett Brown calling the shots when it comes to player acquisitions and personnel, the Sixers have their rookie General Manager, Elton Brand at the helm. Although Brand has some experience at the position thanks to this season, this will be his first official offseason in charge of the moves that go down in the coming months.

The difference between this year's offseason and last year's offseason is that the Sixers are more focused on retaining their own guys - rather than just luring in new names. Brand did his job well when he made some critical trades during the season. He acquired a solid veteran shooter in Tobias Harris, along with two essential bench presences in Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott. Then, perhaps the most significant move of the year happened to be when Brand turned a struggling Dario Saric and inconsistent Robert Covington into Jimmy Butler. At the time, the move wasn't loved by everybody. But by the time the playoffs wrapped up, it was hard to deny the fact that it was Brand's best move.

However, acquiring Butler through trade was only half the battle. The Sixers got him here and got some reliable production out of him down the stretch - but now they have to do everything in their power to retain him. Many questioned the idea of maxing a guy who is turning 30 in September, but at the same time, nobody in Philadelphia wants to see Butler go. So when the veteran forward took to Instagram to quickly reflect on his short journey in Philadelphia, many saw it more as a 'goodbye' rather than a simple 'thank you.'

Does it mean anything? Only time will tell. Many speculate that Butler is just using his post to gain leverage from the Sixers. Others believe he was just simply thanking everybody involved in last season for a wonderful memory. Although it seemed as though Butler wanted to remain in Philly after clicking with the team, that doesn't mean he's going to come back on some sort of discount. The Sixers indeed have to offer Jimmy the max, or else he is likely out the door.

Can the Sixers afford to lose him after giving up some assets? Not exactly. Unless the Sixers have a good chance at grabbing one of the bigger Free Agent's that are hitting the market this offseason, then retaining Jimmy Butler should be number one on their to-do list. His post wasn't exactly a definitive goodbye, but it's hard to believe he will definitely be back as well. Buckle up; this is going to be an exciting offseason.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN. You can follow Justin on Twitter: @JGrasso_

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