There is a lot of uncertainty around what the Philadelphia 76ers might do during the 2022 NBA draft. There has been plenty of talk of them trading Matisse Thybulle and Danny Green, then making a multi-year offer to P.J. Tucker. Reports indicate that Joel Embiid has endorsed the move.
That stuff will play itself out. It’s hard to see through the smoke this time of year. The bigger question mark is James Harden. The 10-time All-Star is expected to return to the Sixers on some kind of short-term extension after picking up his player option for the 2022-23 season. However, which Harden shows up for training camp?
That was the subject of a debate during a recent episode of ESPN’s First Take. Stephen A. Smith thinks Philadelphia can turn into a championship contender if Harden shows up healthy and committed.
“I’m not going to say close but I’m not going to rule it out,” Smith said of Philly’s title chances. “It all depends on how healthy and committed James Harden is. He ain’t Kyrie Irving but he doesn’t get left off the hook. He forced his way out of Houston, and he forced his way out of Brooklyn, and he hasn’t been in shape in two years. That is a fact.”
Remember, the 2018 MVP was nursing a hamstring injury last year amid rumors that he was out of shape during his previous stops in Houston and Brooklyn. Harden hasn’t been the dominant player who won three NBA scoring titles in quite some time.
“We all know when James Harden is absolutely positively 100& healthy and in shape, we know how lethal this brother is,” Smith said. “He’s one of the greatest scorers this game has seen. But we have not seen that over the last two years and I think that is what it takes for the Philadelphia 76ers to be a contender.”
The latest Sixers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Sixers newsletter here!
NBA Insider Connects Sixers to P.J. Tucker
P.J. Tucker just turned 37 years old on May 5. That’s a pretty advanced age for a basketball player, even one as gifted as Tucker. Yet the rumor mill says the Sixers are looking to hand Tucker a three-year contract worth $30 million.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst is hearing the same thing: Philly is prepared to make a “strong offer” to Tucker, with Matisse Thybulle and Danny Green possibly heading out of town.
“For the structure of the Sixers they’ve been out aggressively trying to improve the roster,” Windhorst said on First Take. “They’ve been offering the 23rd pick attached to Matisse Thybulle and Danny Green … They are making a very strong offer early on, or an indication that they are going to make a strong offer, for P.J. Tucker. They are attempting to rebuild the team around Harden and Embiid, with the hope they’ll see a better Harden and a healthier Embiid.”
Windhorst also chimed in on whether he views the Sixers as a championship contender. It all depends on Harden.
He said: “The biggest thing to me is, what does James Harden look like when he shows up to training camp? Does he look like the guy from his MVP years? Or does he look like the guy who showed up the last couple years? That’s one of the most important things.”
Tucker Signing Has ‘Strong Backing’ of Embiid
It’s no secret that Joel Embiid loves Tucker’s game. He mentioned Tucker by name when asked what the Sixers were missing after losing to Miami.
According to Marc Stein, Embiid has green-lighted a potential move for the veteran forward and defensive stopper. Stein wrote the following:
The Sixers’ forthcoming strong pursuit of P.J. Tucker, league sources say, has the strong backing of star center Joel Embiid. I reported Wednesday that Philadelphia is regarded as the league’s clear favorite to sign Tucker if the 37-year-old is indeed leaving Miami this summer after declining his $7.4 million player option with the Heat for next season to opt for free agency.