With all the rumors surrounding whether James Harden will stay with the Philadelphia 76ers, they have to think about what their backup plan will be if their star player leaves. Bryan Toporek of Liberty Ballers laid out what the Sixers’ next move should be if Harden chooses to leave.
Toporek explained how the Sixers could orchestrate an offseason splash next summer should Harden leave.
“Depending on what other moves they make over the next year, they could potentially create a max-contract slot to find a third star to pair with Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.”
Toporek explained how the Sixers could open up said max-contract slot.
“They’d have to get (Joel) Embiid on board with the plan, convince (Tyrese) Maxey to hold off on an extension, try to sign (De’Anthony) Melton to a below-his-max extension, and steer clear of non-minimum multiyear deals for (Georges) Niang, (Jalen) McDaniels, and (Shake) Milton in particular. That may be feasible, but it isn’t necessarily realistic.”
Toporek concluded by explaining how the Sixers could lure a star on the open market to the team.
“The Sixers could finagle their way into having enough cap space to sign one of them if they time their moves correctly. A sign-and-trade seems far more likely than carving out a full max-contract spot, but the Sixers might not be that far away from being able to make a major splash either way.”
Insider Believes James Harden is Trying to Gain Leverage
Though it’s been reported by Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that Harden is expected to return to the Houston Rockets, NBA Insider Brian Windhorst expressed his skepticism regarding Harden’s interest in returning to his previous team on “The Hoop Collective.”
“I still suspect that all of that is one giant leverage play, that what James Harden really wants is to elicit the biggest offer out of the Sixers, even if it isn’t a max. Whatever the number of money is, for as long as many years as he can get, and that this slow dance for months, and these rumors are all sort of tied to that.”
Windhorst said that he thinks it’s possible that both Harden and Kyrie Irving are using competitors to drive up the price because of the damage it could do if they left their current teams.
“Just doing all of this, and whatever he may do between now and free agency to try to get the juiciest offer he can from the team that he’s on because those are the teams (the Sixers and Mavericks) that face the most damage from losing those guys.”
Clippers Star Questions Rockets’ Interest in James Harden
In a conversation with Rockets guard Jalen Green, Paul George explained why he doesn’t think the Rockets should add a star like Harden to their squad on “Podcast P with Paul George.”
“Personally, I wouldn’t (pursue Harden),” George told Green. “At this point, that’s your [team]. Like, you’re the King of Houston. They made their decision…on who the future is…When you pick a guy with the fourth pick, he’s our guy. They full-on committed to who the future is. Like you got to go through this. You got to go through being double-teamed, triple-teamed, being a target every time. You gotta go through that.”
George added Green playing alongside Harden could stunt his growth as a player.
“You bring on someone like James who’s such a ball-dominant player like that’s gonna hinder your growth a little bit. You know what I mean? Regardless of how it can elevate you on another level of him teaching you and you learning off of him, I feel like for you, you’ve already been through the fire. So, let you continue to learn.”