Proposed 3-Way James Harden Trade Sends Damian Lillard to Sixers

James Harden, Damian Lillard

Getty James Harden, Damian Lillard

The Philadelphia 76ers have happened to be dealing with James Harden‘s trade request around the exact time in which the Portland Trail Blazers have dealt with Damian Lillard‘s trade request. ESPN’s Kevin Pelton proposed a three-way trade between the Sixers, Trail Blazers, and Los Angeles Clippers that would solve the former two’s problems.

Pelton proposed the following deal between the three teams.

Sixers get: Lillard, Terance Mann, Norman Powell, and Robert Covington

Trail Blazers get: Furkan Korkmaz, Tyrese Maxey, Jaden Springer, Nicolas Batum, Amir Coffey, Marcus Morris Sr., 2028 Clippers First-Round Pick, 2030 Clippers First-Round Pick

Clippers get: Harden and Tobias Harris

Pelton explained why the Sixers would want Lillard on the team, and why it may be the best time to trade Maxey while they still can.

“Lillard is Philadelphia’s surest and, more importantly, quickest option for replacing Harden with another star who can help reigning MVP Joel Embiid compete for a title in his prime,” Pelton wrote. “That comes at the cost of sacrificing Maxey, who won’t turn 23 until November and averaged 20.3 PPG. Still, this is the peak of Maxey’s trade value before he signs the kind of second contract that changed our perception of Herro and Jordan Poole over the past year.”

Pelton added that this trade would help the Sixers with their depth in one particular area.

“This framework allows the Sixers to rebuild their perimeter depth with 3-and-D contributors Mann and Powell.”

Trading Harden, Maxey, and Harris all to do a complete makeover with Lillard as its main returning asset is not exactly a foolproof plan, but the Sixers have to consider that their current team makeup has not been enough for the past two postseasons, so it may not be worth it to run it back.

Analyst Urges Sixers to Swap Tyrese Maxey for Damian Lillard

Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley explained in a September 12 story that if the Sixers are serious about building a winner about Joel Embiid, they should try to acquire Lillard with Maxey as its main asset.

“If the Sixers aren’t fully committed to building a championship roster around (Embiid), then maybe he won’t be fully committed to them moving forward.

“That’s why Philly should try emptying its asset stash—yes, even if that means losing Tyrese Maxey—for the chance to win the Damian Lillard sweepstakes. With his pick-and-roll prowess and proven ability to perform in the playoffs, he should be an even better fit with Embiid than James Harden has been,” Buckley wrote.

Sixers Don’t Want to Trade Tyrese Maxey: Insider

In that same September 14 story in which Pelton proposed the trade, ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported that the Sixers, at the current time, have no intention of trading Maxey.

“The only way Portland engages Philadelphia in trade talks is if Maxey is involved, but Philadelphia has shown no inclination to move its young guard,” Marks wrote.

While the prospect of acquiring Lillard is tantalizing, at 22 years old, Maxey is a failsafe option in case Embiid decides that he wants a new home in the near future. If the Sixers gambled on a Maxey-for-Lillard swap, and it fails, it could set the franchise back for years.