Sixers Fans Send Strong Message on Lakers’ $206 Million Star

Russell Westbrook Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Philadelphia 76ers have no shortage of star power on their roster. Fans have come to expect marquee names to take the court at Wells Fargo Center: Joel Embiid, James Harden, Ben Simmons, and Jimmy Butler have all spent time in the City of Brotherly Love.

Next season projects to be no different, with Embiid and Harden leading a much deeper Sixers roster. Last year, the Sixers had the star power but lacked the bench depth to keep those starters fresh. After adding De’Anthony Melton, Danuel House, and Montrezl Harrell, the bench could be a serious strength for Philadelphia rather than a weakness.

But let’s be clear: come playoff time, only the cream of the crop will see serious action. As the postseason wears on, the number of reliable players naturally dwindles as opposing teams exploit glaring lineup weaknesses. It’s why Matisse Thybulle, for his excellent defense, was almost unplayable because of his putrid offense; the Heat wisely shaded away from him and left the Sixers playing four-on-five on offense.

So if stars breed playoff success, it’s natural for teams to go hunting for high-end additions. And the additions of superstars are generally met with excitement by a team’s fanbase.

But recently, Sixers fans made it clear that one star would not be welcomed in Philadelphia: Russell Westbrook. Fans took to Twitter to vote their displeasure at any adding the $206 million man.

“If Russell Westbrook is bought out (the Lakers clearly don’t want him), would you take him on the Sixers for the minimum,” asked NBC’s Tyrone Johnson in a Twitter Poll.

The results weren’t even close: over one in three respondents said “no” to adding the Lakers star.

Adding Westbrook to the minimum would be an intriguing proposition, one that would pair Westbrook with a former teammate.


Westbrook Could Team Back up with James Harden

If the Sixers were serious about adding Russell Westbrook, it would mean several things are true.

First, Daryl Morey is truly intent on bringing back every Rockets player ever to Philadelphia. Second, it would mean that James Harden would be taking the court again with his old Oklahoma City Thunder teammate.

Back in 2012, Westbrook and Harden were part of a Thunder team that seemingly came out of nowhere to make the NBA Finals. And that season, lineups featuring both Harden and Westbrook were positively masterful. Those lineups sported a point differential of plus-24.3, scored 129.5 points per 100 possessions, and had an effective field goal rate of 62.4%, per Cleaning the Glass.

Would Philadelphia be getting the same versions of both players? Not a chance. Westbrook is on the down-swing of a stellar career, while Harden far exceeded his 2011-12 expectations as the next generation’s Manu Ginobili.

The Sixers don’t have a need for Westbrook at the moment. But the same can’t be said of Harden, whom the Sixers need to have a vintage 2022-23 season in order to make a deep postseason run.


Harden a Major Wild Card for the 76ers

By all indications, Harden is ready to compete next season. The former MVP has faced backlash over his physique entering the last two seasons but has spent the summer getting his body right so that he can hit the ground running.

And according to Shaun Powell of NBA.com, taking care of Harden’s body is a paramount concern for the Sixers next season.

“Harden could get away with carrying a few pounds during his prime. But now? Age slows you down and suddenly, trying to blow by defenders isn’t as easy as before,” wrote Powell on September 24. “He accepted a paycut, but a better gift for the Sixers is Harden, who turned 33 last month, keeping his body in the best shape possible in 2022-23.”

Another way the team could keep Harden healthy is by easing his workload and pressure during the regular season. With a retooled bench ready to handle more responsibility, that strategy might actually be possible.

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