The Sixers are expected to be very active under the new President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey. The very same Daryl Morey who was most recently the General Manager of the Houston Rockets.
When Morey joined the Sixers the question was posed, could the Sixers pursue James Harden? Not only was the question asked, but the Sixers were even expected to pursue Harden.
Now, on the first day of the trade window, another report has come out claiming that James Harden wants to play elsewhere and has two teams on his mind.
The Philadelphia 76ers are rumored to be one of Harden’s preferred trade destinations according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
The idea isn’t anything new but a rumor coming from Shams, especially one that states Harden’s interest in Philly instead of the opposite is adds a few layers of depth to it.
What would the Sixers offer that could possibly entice the Rockets? Well obviously one of Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons is ideal for Houston but it may be a nonstarter for Philly.
It may be tough for the Sixers to make a trade work but not impossible. Here are three possible trades the Sixers could make to land James Harden:
*disclaimer. These trades were updated after the groundbreaking Jrue Holiday news.
Trade #1: The Sixers Make A Win-Now Move
Houston Receives: Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, the 21st overall pick, the 34th overall pick, unprotected 2022 first-round pick, unprotected 2024 first-round pick, and an unprotected 2026 first-round pick
Philadelphia Receives: James Harden
The Rockets have the ability to retain a monochrome of talent (albeit it pales compared to Harden) and stock up on young talent and picks. The Rockets are near devoid of future assets so youth and picks are of the utmost. Especially when considering the apparent revolt around the corner.
It would be difficult for Houston to “blow things up” the argument could be made that their hand is forced. With that being the case, embracing that sooner rather than later would significantly help the Rockets in the long-term.
The Rockets could even flip Tobias Harris who could raise his trade value as a number one option. There will always be a team desperate enough to take on a contract like Harris’.
Daryl Morey and his new team meanwhile will have landed his top star from his days in H-Town. James Harden would bring unbelievable talent to Philadelphia. His playoff history is questionable but under Doc Rivers and next to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, he would have the chance to right the ship.
Adding James Harden without moving Simmons or Embiid should be a no-brainer. There would be concerns about “mortgaging the future” but those should be discarded as it would be worth the risk.
Trade #2: The Sixers Go All In
Houston Receives: Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, Mike Scott, the 21st pick, unprotected 2022 first-round pick, unprotected 2024 first-round pick, and an unprotected 2026 first-round pick
Philadelphia Receives: James Harden, PJ Tucker, and Danuel House
Like the first scenario, the Rockets add talent, youth, and future picks. The Sixers would essentially swap Josh Richardson for PJ Tucker, Danuel House, and the ability to keep the 34th pick.
If the Rockets want to remain competitive but Harden demands a trade this trade allows them to remain a fringe playoff team while building for the future as well.
In PJ Tucker and Danuel House, the Sixers add two floor-spacing vets. Tucker notably was disappointed in his contract negotiations in Houston so he may have some business to attend to as soon as a potential trade is completed.
That potential headache aside, few are as well regarded in the locker-room as Tucker. He would provide some much-needed versatility both on offense and especially defense.
Losing Richardson “the person” hurts but Richardson “the player” has been a suspect fit at best. He would undoubtedly excel in Houston and cash in the following offseason.
Trade #3: A Third Team Aids Houston’s Rebuild
Houston Receives: Josh Richardson, James Johnson (opt-in), Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, Jarrett Culver, the 17th pick, the 21st pick, unprotected 2022 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick (via Sixers, top-eight protected), the right to swap first-round picks in 2023, and an unprotected 2026 first-round pick
Minnesota Receives: Tobias Harris and Furkan Korkmaz
Philadelphia Receives: James Harden, Eric Gordon, Danuel House, and Ben McLemore
The Houston Rockets embrace the tank and collect three young players and four picks for James Harden and an assortment of players no longer needed.
By obtaining Josh Richardson they are also able to either flip him at the deadline or in the offseason. They could even resign him (assuming he declines his option) if they felt so inclined.
Houston would be without any “star” but their stockpile of future assets would do a complete 180. Unfortunately for Houston, their 2021 first-rounder is owned by the OKC Thunder but the pick is protected 1-4. If the Rockets sell the ship, they could have a chance at retaining their pick.
Even without, the Rockets would have four picks in the next three drafts (including 2020).
The Sixers give up more in this trade than either previous but for good reason.
The additions of Gordon, House, and McLemore may make the Sixers look like Philly’s version of the Houston Rockets and that’s okay. It’s okay because now you can add Doc Rivers and players like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
Adding four plus-shooters one of which being James Harden would give the Sixers an immediate advantage in the east. Maybe they would be close with the Milwaukee Bucks after the Jrue Holiday trade but they’re certainly in a better position long-term.
The Sixers would add star-power, shooting, and depth, solving most of their offseason needs in a single move.
The Timberwolves meanwhile find a way to add a proven player in exchange for the 17th pick and Jarrett Culver. The Wolves are rumored to have both “on the block” with Culver specifically being dangled in trades that would net the Wolves another star.
If you’re loose with the term “star” as the Timberwolves should be, they accomplish just that in getting Tobias Harris. Harris would fit wonderfully with both Karl Anthony-Towns and D’Angelo Russell.
While this “Big 3” would be far from terrifying, they could help the Wolves return to the playoffs. Would that be enough for Minnesota? Possibly. The team has only reached the playoffs once in the past 16 years. Needless to say, they’re motivated and so are their players.
The Wolves are under immense pressure both to make the playoffs and what to do with the number one pick. Trading down is the likely solution and could allow the Wolves to add depth. Packaging 17 and Culver helps their push to the postseason.
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