Q&A: Tyrese Maxey was asleep when the Sixers landed Paul George. But his patience — and new max deal — were ‘a trust thing.’ (2024)

Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid were still chatting around 2 a.m., as Sunday turned into Monday.

Though the 76ers’ All-Star guard was curious if his team would land Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George — free agency’s most prominent target — Maxey had finally resigned to the fact that he needed to get some sleep ahead of a 6 a.m. workout. But when he woke up to use the restroom about three hours later, his phone had been bombarded by approximately 30 text messages that George had agreed to sign a four-year max deal with the Sixers.

“I’m like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on? What happened?’” Maxey said in a Zoom conversation with The Inquirer on Wednesday. “Then I saw [and thought], ‘Oh, wow. This is amazing.’”

» READ MORE: The Sixers’ lack of young talent made Lauri Markkanen an unlikely Plan B behind Paul George

Maxey, who spoke on behalf of an upcoming partnership with the car-sharing company Turo, also has been a significant part of the Sixers’ successful start to free agency. His patience to wait a year to sign his max contract extension allowed the Sixers to have the cap space to make a max offer to George. Maxey also was quickly rewarded later Monday morning, when he agreed in principle to a five-year, $204 million deal. He, Embiid, and George will now create a new star trio, which the Sixers hope can challenge the newly crowned NBA champion Boston Celtics.

In this conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, Maxey touched on the significance of this moment in his career, how he envisions George fitting in with the Sixers, and how he is approaching this offseason.

Q: What have these last couple days been like for you, while watching free agency unfold?

A: This is the first time in my career that I’ve kind of been so focused on free agency. I’m invested in it because I know I have to go out there and play with these guys and help [us] win games. This was a very anticipated free agency for us, [with] cap space, a lot of money, whatever. Shout-out to the ownership. They’re doing a good job so far, I think, executing the plan that they have. They’re putting pieces around Joel to help us try and contend for a title.

Q: How do you envision George fitting in with you and Embiid?

A: He’s a guy who can play so many different styles of basketball. When you can shoot, when you can dribble, when you can iso, when you can post up, and when you can defend — when you can do all those different things, you can play off others, you can play on the ball, and you can create for others — you kind of get plugged in anywhere.

I feel like that’s going to be his biggest strength. Being able to play when Joel has the ball in the post. Play when he needs to play in the pick-and-roll or handoff game with Joel. Play off the ball if I have the ball. Play in transition. So that will be great.

» READ MORE: The Sixers’ path to Paul George was months in the making, but these dominoes still needed to fall

Q: Do you know each other at all beyond playing against each other, from your offseason workouts in Los Angeles or anything like that?

A: Not much. We’ve crossed paths just playing against each other, and then being in L.A. sometimes and saying, “What’s up?” I think it will be great to get to know him, great to get to work with him. I see he plays golf a little bit and does podcasts. I just started playing golf a little bit, so maybe I can get out there and mess with him with that.

Q: A big reason the Sixers were able to get George is because you waited a year to sign your max extension. Is there any satisfaction in knowing you helped make that happen?

A: When we talked about it last year, it’s a trust thing. I trusted [the front office], and I feel like it worked out for us so far. It’s a cool deal. I wasn’t too worried about it. My mind was focused all last season on just trying to find ways to help us win games. It was hard. We got kind of banged up, went through some trades and different things throughout the season. But the main goal was to always go out there and get better every single day, and step in the right direction of ultimately one day bringing a championship to Philadelphia.

Q: You can’t officially sign the contract for a couple more days (July 6), but what was reaching that agreement like for you and your family?

A: I have no complaints whatsoever. When I was a rookie and I told everybody my goal in the summertime was always to get 1% better, I feel like people, they heard me, but they didn’t hear me. I really meant that. That wasn’t me just sitting in front of the camera talking. I genuinely mean that. I really try to find ways to get 1% better every day — my mind, and how I play, and how I think, and how I study.

Q: You don’t just work hard during the offseason, but work deliberately on specific skills. What have your focuses been since the season ended?

A: I’ve been working on a few things. I guess I don’t want to say too much right now. Then, just my voice. I have my friends out here with me right now [in the Dallas area], and I’m not really playing, but kind of just going up there and coaching. Some of them still play, so using my voice to get guys in the right spot. I think that’s going to be huge for me, as well. I think I did a better job of it last year, but I can do an even better job of getting guys in the right spot and coaching guys up and encouraging guys. That’s something that I’ve worked my mind on. I haven’t really gotten to really dive into the basketball stuff yet … but I will. When I do, I may tell you.

» READ MORE: The Sixers have a bona fide big three. How do they match up across the league?

Q: What does the rest of your offseason look like for you?

A: Just about to get in the lab and really lock in there and really work. Spend time with my family; my sister’s getting married [Thursday], so I get to do that with her. My little sister will be going off to college. I’ll try to sneak back to help them with moving in. I’ll probably get a new dog and drive this Turo car. I may be going in there and renting a car myself and not tell anybody. Just drive it around Philadelphia.

Q: Are there things you’ve learned about the ideal approach to your offseason training, compared to your earlier years in the NBA?

A: Yes. That was hard for me, especially my second offseason. It was extremely hard for me to say, “OK, I’ve got to take a break. I understand I’ve got to rest my body.” After we lost to the Miami Heat [in the 2022 playoffs], I was ready to go, like, after a week, [saying], “I’ve got to get back in there.” My body was sore. But now I understand I’ve got to take this time off. I’ve got to ease my way back into it, to play a lot of heavy minutes and do a lot of different things. I’m still working, but working smarter and not always harder.

Q&A: Tyrese Maxey was asleep when the Sixers landed Paul George. But his patience — and new max deal — were ‘a trust thing.’ (2024)

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