An improving Tobias Harris could help the Sixers land James Harden

NBA: MAR 01 76ers at Clippers
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Forward Tobias Harris (12) looks on during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

Tobias Harris has been through a lot during his Sixers career. From being a huge free-agent signing to being regarded as a contract burden, Harris hasn’t always had a fun time in Philadelphia. However, after a decent start to the season, the former Clipper is proving that no matter what, the Sixers benefit from him playing well in different ways. 

After the first four games of the season, it’s pretty clear that the offense still needs work. All good things take time and with the team gradually setting into a new system under a new Head Coach, Tobias Harris is playing an extremely important role for the Sixers.

As we just witnessed in the win against the Raptors, when Tobias Harris is on top of his game, alongside great performances from guys like Embiid and Seth Curry, the Sixers can overcome an overall poor display and still win games. On the night, Harris went for 26 points off 11/20 shooting, 11 rebounds and 3 assists, whilst also having 2 steals and 2 blocks. One of those blocks was a game-saving contribution as he ran back and stopped Fred Vanvleet from scoring off a fast-break that would have a been a certain 2 points for the Raptors. 

Harris has come under huge criticism for his performances as a Sixer and rightly so given the contract he was handed. However, he’s started the season off well with his worst game coming in the season opener against Washington. If Harris manages to keep these performances up, not only will the team continue to win games, but he’ll add another element of positivity to the team.

Like I previously mentioned, there’s still work to be done offensively for the Sixers, the win against the Raptors proved that. There’s obviously a fix out there for the Sixers and his name is James Harden. Harden has been linked to a move to Philly ever since the reports came out about him wanting a trade out of Houston, and it’s been well documented that the Sixers and Rockets have been in trade talks with eachother, but those talks haven’t really progressed.  

It’s also been well documented how the Sixers, no matter how well Harris ends up performing this season, would benefit massively from moving on from him, see what I’m getting at? Whilst I don’t think trading Ben Simmons and a few firsts for Harden is the best plan for the Sixers, it’s really the only way to get James Harden to Philly, unless Tobias Harris has a much-improved season and massively increases his trade value. 

If Harris was to play well and boost his trade value, the Sixers could then package together Harris, a few first-round picks, and a few young players and see if they could get Harden to Philly, somehow keeping Ben and Embiid. 

Whilst that does sound pretty unlikely given the Rockets seem to be holding firm on their asking price for Harden, the Rockets haven’t really got the leverage or power in this negotiation to keep demanding outlandish things like they’re currently doing. Harris massively improving from last season might just tempt the Rockets to give up on Ben Simmons and take the picks, young guys, and a solid plan B. 

Like I said near the beginning of this piece, Tobias Harris playing well benefits the Sixers no matter what the plan is. He’s shown in the early games that if he can contribute a decent amount during games, the Sixers are in a much better position to win games.

However, there’s also the added benefit of constantly raising his trade value, because let’s face it, there wasn’t much value for teams to take on Harris’ contract with the way he was performing last season. Harris’ improvement will be a key thing to keep an eye on during this season and as we head to the trade deadline, for more than one reason. 

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire