Three straight second-round postseason eliminations have the Philadelphia 76ers staring at an uncertain future. With James Harden’s impending free agency and Joel Embiid’s reaction to the franchise firing Doc Rivers, there are many question marks surrounding whether or not this will be an all-in play to surround the reigning MVP with a win-now roster or tear the roster down in hopes of having a more successful “Process” this time around.
The Sixer Sense’s Lucas Johnson believes that if appeasing Embiid and aiming to make a winner in the short-term is the goal, that trading Tobias Harris and his $39 million expiring contract for several role players is a possibility.
“Philly can flip his deal into several very good role players if 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey can find the right team to deal with,” Johnson wrote. “Morey needs to pay attention to his MVP in Joel Embiid, the big man made it very clear what he needs are moving forward.”
Sixers Can Trade Tobias Harris for Role Players or a Star
Harris has seen a decrease in his statistical output over the past three seasons, coinciding with the acquisition of Harden before the 2022 trade deadline. Despite his regression, Harris still can serve as a piece to acquire several role players or, perhaps, even a star as Johnson writes.
“The easiest way to get Embiid some help is by trading Harris with his big contract and getting either multiple role players or trying to swing for the fences for a star one,” Johnson wrote. “Either way, it seems that the stars are aligned for the Philadelphia 76ers to trade Harris this offseason.”
Embiid last played alongside an All-Star — Harden had earned those honors in 2021-22 with the Brooklyn Nets before landing in Philadelphia by the time the game was actually played — during the 2020-21 season. That was Ben Simmons’ last season as a player with any meaningful role.
Finding the MVP another star, especially in the event that Harden leaves, would be in the front office’s plans if Embiid wants to stick with the Sixers following the departure of “The Beard.”
Tobias Harris & Joel Embiid Trades Are Possible
According to CBS Sports’ Brad Botkin, the Sixers could find a trade for Embiid in the event that a Harris trade is found first.
“If the Sixers were to lose Harden for nothing, they would have to consider breaking up more of the roster, perhaps by trying to get off Tobias Harris’ contract,” Botkin wrote. “Perhaps a Joel Embiid trade would then become an option. That’s a road Daryl Morey — who said on Wednesday that the Sixers have not yet had talks with Harden about a long-term deal but that the team would be interested in bringing him back — is almost certainly not ready to go down.”
Harris is the primary key for Philadelphia to find upgrades for its roster, but he also represents a chance to begin a rebuild by recouping draft capital along tied to a long-term contract for the Sixers this offseason.
And if Philadelphia needs to bring back a 30-year-old with over a decade of experience coming off a season in which he had a 50/39/87 shooting slash and 19 points on 54% shooting in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics.