In Doc Rivers’ mind, it was decided. Coming off last season, Tyrese Maxey was always going to start this season. Even if Ben Simmons had returned to the team, the plan was to go with Maxey.

That’s what Rivers told columnist Marcus Hayes last week, providing some insight into the confidence the Sixers coach has in the second-year player and why he was essentially untouchable at the trade deadline. Rivers thinks he’ll be an All-Star.

Maxey is ultimately being looked to as an emerging player who’ll get even better. Of course, he’ll also have to make adjustments now that he’ll adapt to playing alongside ball-dominant James Harden.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

What do you see as Tyrese Maxey’s ceiling?: sports.daily@inquirer.com

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Early Birds

Whether it’s standing up to Norm Van Brocklin, Dick Vermeil, or John Madden, Art McNally was always a straight shooter. And with McNally’s career as a game official and in the league office spanning the history of the modern NFL, oh does the Philly native have stories to tell.

McNally is the first referee in history to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Matt Breen spoke with family members about those stories that the 96-year-old McNally would tell.

His son, Tom, who represented his father at the NFL Honors presentation earlier this month as Art was announced as having been elected. Vermeil, also in attendance while being elected himself, told Tom that the league fined him for yelling at his dad so much. It was just one more story about a man who’s got so many of them.

Extra Innings

Ranger Suárez was a revelation for the Phillies last season and made some history in the process. He became the first pitcher since Bob Gibson in 1968 — and the fourth in the last 102 years — to make at least 10 starts, throw 100 or more innings, and post a sub-1.50 ERA. And the 26-year-old left-hander did so while making a base salary only slightly higher than the MLB minimum of $570,500. Nice deal for the Phillies, but it also makes Suárez “one of the poster children” in the union’s push for a new collective bargaining agreement.

Off the Dribble

While Harden has been a member of the 76ers since Feb. 10, 76ers fans are likely still playing catchup as they pine for more information about their new franchise player. Harden, who will likely make his debut Friday, hasn’t played and game and hasn’t spoken to media aside from his introductory press conference.

With that in mind, Ed Barkowitz put together a little cheat sheet for Inquirer readers. Here are 13 things to know about Harden.

Fleet Street

Julian Carranza was supposed to be the man for Inter Miami, but the club went overboard on signing new players. Not only did Carranza not get much playing time, but the club was also found in violation of Major League Soccer’s salary cap rules. The Union pounced to claim Carranza on a loan deal and now the striker has an opportunity to prove his worth after spending last season sidelined.

Jonathan Tannenwald spent time with the new striker, who the Union will count on for goals when the new season begins Feb. 26.

Worth a look

New beginnings: Cardinal O’Hara girls basketball player Maggie Doogan will team up with her mom and coach, Chrissie, to go for the Philadelphia Catholic League championship on Monday. For college, Doogan will leave the area to play for Richmond and create her own path.

Veteran Dragons: The Drexel men’s basketball team is led by top two scorers Camren Wynter and Melik Martin, both seniors who bring the veteran leadership it takes to give the Dragons a chance to make a postseason run.

Magee’s The Man: Mike Sielski takes a last look at the legendary Philadelphia coach in action as Herb Magee bows out in his final regular-season home game.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Marcus Hayes, Gina Mizell, Matt Breen, Scott Lauber, Ed Barkowitz, Jonathan Tannenwald, Joey Piatt, Mike Sielski and Ariel Simpson.