Sixers expected to resume James Harden trade talks before the start of the season.

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Sixers, James Harden
Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) calls to teammates during the first half of Game 5 against the Boston Celtics in the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series, Tuesday, May 9, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

That’s right, folks, it’s August, that special time of year when the rumor mill goes colder than the most refreshing water ice. For the Sixers, the story of the offseason continues to be centered around the fallout from James Harden’s recent – though admittedly it feels like a lifetime ago – trade demand.

The “latest” on the James Harden rumors

Sixers, James Harden
Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden reacts after making a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The latest in a series of non-developments comes from The Athletic’s Shams Charania, who, in fairness, was reporting on some actual summertime slop and happened to offer what updates he could that were relevant. While speaking on recent developments regarding a potential deal to send Pascal Siakam to the Atlanta Hawks, Shams also updated the public on the latest regarding Damian Lillard and James Harden.
Regarding the latter, Shams stated,

“The Philadelphia 76ers and LA Clippers are expected to engage again in discussions on a Harden trade this offseason, league sources who are involved in the discussions but unauthorized to speak on the matter say. Harden still prefers to be moved, and Philadelphia is working to honor his wish, as 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey recently said.”

Holy non-story, Batman.

Yes, the latest update is one that we’ve heard over and over throughout the offseason.

So, what exactly is the holdup? Is it purely as simple as the two sides stubbornly beating their chests as they take turns making unrealistic demands? It’s not bold to suggest this is the most likely reason, but there are other — secondary — factors potentially at play.

What’s the secret to good comedy…? Timing

Sixers, James Harden
Philadelphia 76ers’ Montrezl Harrell reacts after a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

One such factor could simply be timing, as both sides have players who are not yet available to be aggregated into potential trades.

The Clippers are reportedly disinterested in trading Terrance Mann and even draft compensation has been held dearly. Perhaps the addition of a young contributor, such as Kenyon Martin Jr., could sweeten a potential deal for Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey. After being acquired from the Houston Rockets on July 8, Martin cannot be aggregated with another player until Aug. 31.

In a similar way, after Oct. 15, Sixers backup center Montrezl Harrell — who recently suffered a torn ACL, can be included in a trade. While he would provide traditional value due to his injury, there is value in the trade flexibility a player on the vet minimum brings to these negotiations.

When will the Sixers trade Harden?

Sixers, James Harden
Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden reacts to a foul called on him during the second half against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, April 20, 2023, in New York. After review, he was given a flagrant foul two, and ejected from the game. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The unfortunate truth of the matter is that there is no way to determine with absolute certainty when a trade may occur. Whether this is resolved in a week, a month, by the start of the season, or even the deadline, a trade is almost certainly on the horizon; that hasn’t changed. The ol’ adage comes to mind that, while not always accurate, feels appropriate in this case. As they say, “The truth always lies somewhere in between.”