Their thinking is based upon maintaining financial flexibility, rather than how they evaluate Maxey’s worth. Except for Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid, Maxey is the top young player on the roster.
Philadelphia views him as a long-term core piece but by holding off on a Maxey extension the team can potentially clear a path to another max slot next offseason. The Sixers are aiming to be major players in next year’s free agent market, particularly since Tobias Harris‘ expiring contract will be coming off their books (assuming he’s not traded). Currently, Embiid and P.J. Tucker are the only players on the roster with guaranteed contracts for the 2024/25 season.
Signing Maxey to a rookie scale extension this offseason would limit the amount of cap space the Sixers could open up for next summer. Maxey, the No. 21 pick in the 2020 draft, will make $4,343,920 next season.
Without an extension, Maxey would enter restricted free agency with a relatively modest $13MM cap hold. If he signed an extension before next season starting at $30MM, as an example, the Sixers would lose $17MM in cap space, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks points out (Twitter link).
The team’s interest in retaining Maxey long-term doesn’t depend of whether James Harden is traded or remains with the Sixers on what would be an expiring contract. However, the franchise may be taking somewhat of a risk of alienating Maxey by not locking him via an extension before next season.
Maxey appeared in 60 regular season games in his third NBA season and averaged 20.3 points and 3.5 assists in 33.6 minutes per game. He also averaged 20.5 points in 11 postseason contests.