Though it’s very possible that James Harden will stick around, the Philadelphia 76ers have to consider what plan B will be should he leave. Following the report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania that the Phoenix Suns are exploring their options with Chris Paul, Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice delved into the possibility of Paul replacing Harden.
“The first place your mind goes is whether the Sixers would benefit from bringing in Paul themselves, though that only appears to make sense in a world where James Harden is leaving,” Neubeck said.
Neubeck added that there are cons to adding Paul, which can be attributed to his age.
“Paul is far from the Hall of Fame, All-Star guard he once was, bothered by injuries late in seasons and unable to dial it up as often and as effectively as he could in the recent past. A master of the midrange, Paul’s efficiency on two-point shots took a nose dive last season, a worrying sign for a small guard who will turn 39 in the middle of next year’s second round.”
Neubeck then explained why he could be a beneficial addition to the Sixers despite his advanced age as a player.
“Paul has a ton of on-court and off-court wisdom to pass onto any guard who would listen, and he remains one of the league’s steadiest playmakers in spite of what he has lost. Paul has made a career out of picking his spots as a scorer while spoonfeeding easy looks to teammates, and the Sixers would be able to tap into his playmaking without needing to worry about absorbing much playmaking risk.”
Harden and Paul played together on the Houston Rockets from 2017 to 2019.
Suns Floated as James Harden Suitor
Following a report from Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report that the Suns intended to waive Paul, NBA Insider Ramona Shelburne mentioned Harden as an option for the Suns on a June 7 appearance on “Mason & Ireland” on ESPN Los Angeles.
Shelburne prefaced the Suns’ interest by stating that they wouldn’t get rid of Paul unless they knew someone else was coming, leading to her mentioning Harden.
“They don’t (waive Paul) unless they feel pretty good about somebody else, and I want you to keep your eye on James Harden,” Shelburne said. “I don’t want to report anything, but that was in the wind the past month or so. Everybody thinks it’s Philly or Houston, but there have been discussions in the wind.”
Harden and Kevin Durant have played together on two separate teams – the Oklahoma City Thunder and Brooklyn Nets.
James Harden Not Sure About Free Agency Decision
“I don’t think he knows. As far as what I know about his mindset, I don’t think he totally is there,” Charania said. “We’re less than a month out from free agency starting. I really think he’s torn with the prospect of staying in Philadelphia or moving on to Houston potentially and returning back to his home.”
Charania added that how the Sixers approach their talks with Harden this summer will factor into his decision.
“I think whichever way it goes, it’s going to be relatively close. That’s why as we get closer to July 1, June 30th, those conversations that he’s going to have, as he becomes a free agent, with Nick Nurse and with Daryl Morey, what their vision is for him, what their vision is for that team, what that offer ultimately is going to be versus comparing it to whatever Houston comes with on June 30th or July 1, those are all very important factors.”