The Sixers and Daryl Morey are currently in a staring match with the Brooklyn Nets over the availability of James Harden. There have been whispers connecting Harden with Philly for quite some time, but they have reached the forefront of the conversation in recent days. The growing unhappiness from the Nets star has driven this movement, with the Sixers pushing for the Nets to unload Harden as soon as possible.
James Harden has missed the previous three games with what is listed as “hamstring tightness,” but it appears to have more to do with his frustrations than his physical ability. The 32-year-old had forced his way to the Nets last season with the intention of taking a step back in his role in order to compete for a championship. Despite the dream-like Big 3 that was assembled, Harden, KD, and Kyrie have played just 16 total games together during the two years they have been together. It also is worth noting that the Nets have lost 9 straight games and sit in 8th place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 29-25.
Will a Trade Happen Now?
If the Nets are willing to consider shipping off Harden before the deadline, there is little doubt that Daryl Morey will be all over it. However, as it currently stands, the Nets appear hesitant to consider trading the 9-time all-star. Despite his growing vocal displeasure, Brooklyn appears hopeful that a successful playoff run will change the sour feelings on Harden’s end. Despite their uneasy start to the season, the Nets remain the betting favorite on most sportsbooks. Winning cures everything, and the belief that Harden will buy back in during a deep playoff run isn’t an awful bet on Brooklyn’s end.
Where Does Tobias Harris Come into Play?
As things currently stand, the Sixers require the Nets’ help in every route to get Harden to Philly. The only way to change this would be to carve out cap space so the Sixers could sign James Harden outright. With Ben Simmons still away from the team and Joel Embiid proving to be the franchise centerpiece the Sixers had hoped, the obvious solution to this would be looking into shipping off Tobias Harris. Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice reported on what he had heard surrounding this possible scenario here:
Could this Plan Land Harden?
It is obvious that there are some behind-the-scenes conversations between Harden and the Sixers that give Morey optimism for his desire to come to Philly. This is clear to the point that several teams have already accused the Sixers of tampering in this given situation. If Morey is confident in Harden’s commitment, it would be wise to give the team their best possible chance to land the three-time scoring champ.
Things can always get complicated when negotiating between inter-conference rivals, so having the ability to sign Harden outright could give the Sixers a major advantage. From Morey’s perspective, it has always been about landing James Harden. It would be frustrating to further waste this MVP season from Joel Embiid by shipping Tobias Harris off for expiring contracts, but if it lands James Harden as a free agent this summer, it would be hard to argue with the logic.
With the duo of Joel Embiid and James Harden in hand, it would also allow Morey to be much less selective in the search for a Ben Simmons trade, which has already drug on for far too long. Ideally, the Nets cave and Morey can capitalize on a Simmons for Harden swap before the 3 PM deadline on Thursday, but that may not be the case. If the Harden trade talks are unable to come to fruition, don’t be surprised if Tobias Harris is the Sixer who finds himself on the move.