Sixers Keeping Roster Spot Open for Trade: Report

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Getty Joel Embiid #21, Tyrese Maxey #0, Tobias Harris #12, James Harden #1 and P.J. Tucker #17 of the Philadelphia 76ers.

With James Harden sidelined for the Philadelphia 76ers with a foot injury, it’s only fair to wonder if the Sixers will search for some immediate playmaking and scoring help. So far, Tyrese Maxey has done a so-so job stepping into Harden’s shoes: while his assists per game are up (6.2), his shooting is slowly sinking its way to the earth’s core (39 percent from the floor).

But Harden’s absence isn’t the only reason the Sixers might have an eye on the free-agent market. As it stands, Philadelphia has an open roster spot. But according to Heavy Sports insider Sean Deveney, that spot is reserved for one specific purpose: a trade.

“[The Sixers could look into] Wayne Ellington, Jeremy Lamb or one of Doc’s old guys like (Rajon) Rondo or Lou Williams,” an Eastern Conference executive told Deveney. “Those guys were not going to play much, though, so the thinking is, let’s keep what we got and keep that spot and see what happens when it comes time to make a trade.”

Sixers Trying to Keep Flexibility

The Sixers are also apparently not looking to take on any additional salary right now, for that express purpose of trade flexibility. It’s a fair ask, considering Philadelphia is hard-capped after the PJ Tucker signing, something the executive that Deveney spoke with noted.

“Right now, with their tax situation and the hard cap (the Sixers cannot go over $156.9 million in salary; they are at $151.4 million), the flexibility is worth more to them than anything they are going to get on the market. If they are going to make a move on (Matisse) Thybulle or (Furkan) Korkmaz, they want to have the room to be able to take on more salary there, so they want to keep their numbers low.”

By keeping their numbers low, the Sixers ensure maximum flexibility heading into peak trade season. With Daryl Morey at the helm, there’s no telling what the Sixers will do.

Sixers Have Sights Set on Durant

The news that the Sixers are leaving a spot open for trade comes after reports that Philadelphia is also looking into a potential move for Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant.

“There is no doubt the Sixers have asked on Durant, they did in the summer, and will keep asking about him,” an exec told Deveney. “But the Nets are going to be a little put off by them already because of the Ben Simmons thing, because they feel like they were set up to give away James Harden all along. So the Sixers burned them once, do the Nets want to go back and say, OK, sure, we’ll do a KD deal, too.”

The biggest kicker in any Durant deal? The obvious inclusion of Tyrese Maxey. While Maxey has struggled since Harden went down with an injury, the youngster has displayed significant scoring ability at multiple levels on the floor. Maxey isn’t just a talented player, he’s also Philadelphia’s best young asset and the only one younger than 28 in the starting five. By foregoing Maxey’s future for Durant, the Sixers would essentially push all its chips to the middle to contend for a championship now.

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