Tobias Harris Joins Ben Simmons Focusing Solely on Sixers Season
Last season, the Philadelphia 76ers had arguably one of the better starting lineups in the NBA at one point. Unfortunately, they found out that chemistry trumps talent. And since there wasn't enough time to build an optimal chemistry throughout the season, their journey to the NBA Finals ended thanks to a Game 7 heartbreaker in Toronto prematurely.
Being eliminated was a tough pill to swallow for Philly, but it surely wasn't the toughest. The worst part about the loss? Philadelphia wasn't guaranteed to get that same team back. After all of the last-minute moves they made throughout the year, the Sixers loaded themselves with players that happened to be on contract years. Stars such as Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, JJ Redick, Boban Marajanovic, and more were set to become free agents after the season concluded.
So the first step of the offseason was to retain the best guys they could. Butler wouldn't come back, but Tobias Harris was undoubtedly all about it. That's why he inked himself a five-year deal with the Sixers. And two weeks later, his co-star Ben Simmons landed the other max slot, which was initially Jimmy Butler's to have.
Not too long after Harris landed his deal with Philly, he flew out to California to join Ben Simmons in a workout session. Harris would reveal that Simmons has been working on his game -- especially in the areas, which he garnered a ton of criticism for.
Many won't believe Simmons is making strides with his skillset until they see it during a game. There was hope that Sixers fans would get a sneak preview from Simmons as he was set to join Australia for the FIBA World Cup, but Simmons withdrew. Instead, he will continue to develop his weak spots in order to live up to his newly signed contract in Philly.
Like Simmons, Harris was set to join the FIBA World Cup, but for Team USA this summer. Now, that doesn't seem to be the case. Tobias Harris followed suit and has decided to withdraw himself from the World Cup as well. Why? For the same reasons as Simmons -- he's working on his game for the Sixers after inking a large deal.
At this point, it's become clear the Sixers youngsters are motivated to be great for their team. Both Simmons and Harris have earned the right to be called 'stars' in the NBA. Also, they received themselves a brand new long-term contract with tons of dollar signs. Now, they are setting their focus on becoming better for their team as they have their eyes on the prize -- the NBA Finals.
Knowing that the Eastern Conference is wide open for the taken, the Sixers have favorable odds to become championship contenders. However, they aren't going to get there without practicing together. So instead of focusing on two different teams at once, Harris and Simmons have decided to put their sole focus on the Sixers upcoming season.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN. You can follow Justin on Twitter: @JGrasso_