Now that the Philadelphia 76ers have the whole summer ahead of them to improve their roster, many of the players who fought all year to compete for a championship are starting to enjoy their offseason.
It was a long and tumultuous year for the team, and some players were more than ready to put it all behind them and start fresh next season.
James Harden is somebody who caught a lot of flak, especially in the closeout game to the Heat where he didn’t score a single point in the second half. It’s clear his best days are behind him, but he can still be a very valuable playmaker, just not the lead scorer.
Joel Embiid acknowledged as much in his postgame comments following the defeat to the Heat.
“Obviously, since we got him, everybody expected the Houston James Harden, but that’s not who he is anymore. He’s more of a playmaker,” Embiid said. “I thought at times could’ve been, as all of us, could’ve been more aggressive.”
Harden hasn’t said much about the noise surrounding him, but he did break his silence with a cryptic message on his Instagram on May 15.
Harden Hits Back
He didn’t post a list of people who needed to apologize to him or anything of the sort, but Harden did make it clear he’s hearing what people are saying, but he’s just staying silent about it.
“I be quiet about sh*t,” he said. “I just let the people talk. It’s a lot that goes into it. Keep pushin.”
By keeping it short and simple, he didn’t do much to silence the talking, but he did get a conversation going on the Sixers subreddit.
“It’s just the typical weird cryptic post everyone posts,” said one fan. “It means nothing.”
“I respect Harden for staying calm and inward,” wrote another. “He’s getting a full dose of the fans and local media.”
Harden said he’ll pick up his player option for next season, so he’ll be back in Philadelphia with Embiid as they go on another run. Doc Rivers will be back as coach as well, so unless some big moves are made, it’s going to be the same core that can’t seem to get over the hump that is the second round.
What Can Be Done?
The most likely contract to be moved in exchange for more pieces would be Tobias Harris. Although he had a strong showing in the playoffs, there were discussions around the league about what a trade for him could look like.
Embiid and Harden aren’t going anywhere, so Harris definitely looks like the odd man out in this scenario. Maxey is coming on strong, and there’s even a chance he could be the second scoring option over Harden next season.
The Sixers will need to address their bench in a big way as it’s clear that’s their weak spot. They need to find somebody with consistent scoring, and that can prove to be quite difficult if they have to navigate under their current cap space.