Tobias Harris continues to find himself linked with a move away from the Philadelphia 76ers, but finding a willing trade partner is proving a difficult task for the front office.
However, it would seem there are avenues for the Sixers to continue exploring. During a recent conversation with Heavy.com, an Eastern Conference executive, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, recently postulated a potential trade that would see Harris replaced by a genuine point-forward, capable of defending at a high-level while also offering some legitimate floor spacing.
“Charlotte has been open to moving Gordon Hayward, that would be an interesting fit with Embiid because he can be a really perimeter-based 4 who can handle the ball and pass. (Miles) Bridges plays a lot of power forward but he is a more natural 3-man so bring in Harris and I think that helps him.
Hayward is 32, he is not really on the timeline of the rest of the team. Harris is not young either (29) but he has a couple of years on him. Philly would have to take back (Mason) Plumlee most likely but that can answer their problem for an Embiid backup,” The executive told Heavy’s, Sean Deveney.
On the surface, moving Harris for Hayward makes sense. The Indiana native could ease some of the ball-handling pressure off of James Harden, is capable as an off-ball threat, and is exceptionally gifted on the defensive end.
Hayward’s Injury History is Concerning
While Hayward’s basketball fit makes perfect sense, there has to be a level of concern regarding his ability to stay healthy and remain on the floor. Since the 32-year-old wing broke his leg on his Boston Celtics debut, he’s struggled to remain consistent in terms of availability.
Over his two years with the Charlotte Hornets, Hayward has participated in a total of 93 regular-season games and has failed to appear in more than 50 contests in either season.
Given Joel Embiid’s injury history, and the fact that Harden is no longer in his prime, adding another aging, injury-prone player to the rotation could be problematic. After all, every team should use this year’s Los Angeles Lakers team as a cautionary tale when building around thirty-something-year-old stars.
What Does Hayward Bring to the Table?
When healthy, Hayward is a borderline All-Star, capable of spearheading an offense or taking a backseat as a second or third option – his game is incredibly versatile that way. Since joining the Hornets, the six-foot-seven wing has shot the three-ball at a 40.2% clip on 4.6 attempts per game.
Hayward is also reliable when attacking inside of the perimeter, and since joining the Hornets, he holds averages of 62.5% at the rim, 38% from floater range, 48% from long mid-range, and 42% from mid-range as a whole. The Butler product is also averaging 3.5 assists per game over his 734 regular-season contests to date, proving he’s skilled enough to set the table for others.
Sure, Hayward’s age, injury history, and enormous contract make him a difficult sell for most teams, but if Daryl Morey truly wants to move on from Harris, add some scoring and defense, and do so without rocking the boat too much, you can’t do much better than Hayward.