The Miami Heat have been fortunate in their second-round series against the Sixers with Joel Embiid being on the shelf due to an orbital fracture. On top of that, the MVP finalist is currently in the NBA‘s concussion protocol.
As it stands, he’s listed as out for Game 3 in Philly, however, ESPN has reported that there’s still a chance that status could change in time for tip-off.
Otherwise, the burden will fall once more to James Harden to try and shoulder the extra load, something he hasn’t really been able to do so far. Through two games against the Heat, the 10-time All-Star has averaged just 18 points per outing while shooting 39.3% from the floor and 25% from distance.
Nevertheless, Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz believes Harden and the Heat could actually be a good match for one another in the future, should the Sixers look to move on from him this offseason.
B/R: Miami a ‘Surprise Landing Spot’ for Harden
On Thursday, Swartz dropped his list of surprise landing spots for the Association’s top free agents this summer. In the event that Harden and the Sixers decide that their partnership isn’t going to work, the writer namechecked the Heat as his sneaky destination.
As unlikely as it is that Harden leaves Philly now, Miami, the No. 1 seed in the East, should still be on the table.
This scenario likely only comes to fruition if the Sixers don’t want to give Harden a full five-year max deal, especially with Joel Embiid’s four-year, $196 million supermax extension kicking in by 2023-24. Tyrese Maxey is heading toward his own massive payday while Tobias Harris still has two years and roughly $77 million left on his deal.
According to B/R’s Farbod Esnaashari, Harden had previously considered a move to the Heat when he was looking to get out of Houston. And Swartz believes that it’s a scenario worth revisiting (or, at the least, considering).
Even as Harden has failed to look like his former MVP self as a scorer, he still knows how to get to the line at an elite level. Moreover, his abilities as a facilitator and backcourt rebounder continue to be weapons as well. Harden logged a 21-11-7 line during the regular season.
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A Harden Deal May Be Too Costly
As noted in the piece, the cost to bring Harden to South Beach would be steep. Swartz believes that it would be Duncan Robinson and Kyle Lowry just as a jumping-off point, with additional sweeteners likely being required.
Specifically, Tyler Herro was mentioned, which might even be a deal-killer in a world where Pat Riley is legitimately in love with the aging Harden.
While Charles Barkley would apparently quibble with the notion that Herro is a big-time star, the fact remains that he’s a 20-plus point scorer, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and someone who’s 10 full years younger than Harden, who has shown signs of decline two years running.
So, to say that Miami landing the Sixers guard would be surprising is probably understating things.