All-Star Guard, Former Nick Nurse Player Has ‘Emerged’ as Sixers Target: Report

Nick Nurse

Getty Head coach Nick Nurse of the Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers are at risk of losing James Harden this offseason for nothing. It appears that they may already be preparing for his departure, as Brett Siegel of ClutchPoints reported that the Sixers are eyeing one of Nick Nurse’s former players on the Toronto Raptors as a possible replacement for Harden.

“Leaving the Sixers after just one full season and signing elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent is a very real possibility for Harden, which is why Philadelphia has begun giving thought as to who could replace the former league MVP. According to league sources close to the organization, Raptors All-Star guard Fred VanVleet has emerged as a potential replacement for Harden this offseason.”

VanVleet is not the same caliber player that Harden is, but his experience with Nurse could prove to be useful for the Sixers should they mamnage to acquire him. VanVleet played under Nurse for the Raptors through Nurse’s entire tenure as head coach from 2018 to 2023, where VanVleet won a title and made the all-star team during their time together.

VanVleet will enter the offseason as an unrestricted free agent.

Fred VanVleet Approves of Nick Nurse Hire

After it had been reported that Nurse had been hired as the Sixers’ next head coach, VanVleet explained why he approved of the Sixers hiring his former coach on the May 30 episode of “Inside the Association.”

“It’s just a different voice that they haven’t heard before. Something outside the box. He’s gonna bring new ideas, creative ideas. It’ll be a great breath of fresh air for them. Anytime you’re changing head coaches, that’s pretty much what you’re looking for is a new identity, a new voice for the guys to rally behind.”

VanVleet added why it’s important for the Sixers to get approval from Joel Embiid on hiring Nurse and how successful he’ll think the Sixers will be with Nurse.

“(They) pretty much had to get Joel onboard. I think once they got that. I think once Nick met with Joel, and as long as he’s signing off on all the crazy stuff that coach wants to do. I think that they’ll be in a good spot. I think they’ll have some success. Hopefully not too much if I’m not there, and I’m staying in Toronto then we want them to fail, but other than that, I’m happy that he landed on his feet,” VanVleet said with a smile on his face.

Firing Doc Rivers Won’t Guarantee James Harden’s Return

An Eastern Conference GM told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney that, despite the Sixers firing Rivers, that won’t ensure Harden’s return to the Sixers.

“They fired Doc Rivers, and James might have had a hand in that,” the GM told Deveney. “Maybe that clears the way for him to come back to the Sixers. But they were going to make that move on Doc either way. So, firing Doc does not guarantee that James comes back.”

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported that Harden was seen as the driving force behind Rivers’ firing.

“Several members of Rivers’ staff, sources said, have pointed to All-Star point guard James Harden — whom league personnel are expecting to decline his player option in search of a long-term contract — as a driving force behind Rivers’ departure,” Fischer wrote in a story published May 18

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