Daryl Morey and the Philadelphia 76ers are in a sticky situation when it comes to Tobias Harris.
The six-foot-eight forwards is a highly valuable player, capable of being the second option for most teams in the league. However, Harris has often found himself playing third fiddle in Philadelphia, and that’s vastly limiting his ability to impact the game, primarily because his skillset doesn’t lend itself to being a spot-up scorer.
Unfortunately, Harris’ $180 million contract makes him a difficult commodity to move, as not many teams have the cap space, or desire, to absorb his contract while sounding out genuine talent in return. Yet, according to one Eastern Conference executive, who spoke to Heavy.com under the condition of anonymity, the Atlanta Hawks could potentially be a willing trade partner – if the deal is right.
“Atlanta is still in play for Harris, they had conversations about a package with (Ben) Simmons but the question now is, can Atlanta get something better for John Collins? The Sixers would probably ask for De’Andre Hunter and Atlanta is going to want them to take (Clint) Capela or (Bogdan) Bogdanovic and that’s where the talks end, you know?
And they have to ask whether Collins is much of an upgrade at that spot. The Sixers have never really figured out, what’s the best 4 man to put with Embiid? If there is a bigger deal, more teams, where Atlanta can clear out Capela and the Sixers can include (Danny) Green for salary purposes, that is what it would take to get something done,” The executive told Heavy.com’s, Sean Deveney.
If the Sixers can find a high-level replacement for Harris, and that replacement can help get the best out of the James Harden and Joel Embiid duo, that’s a deal worth making.
Harris can Still Play a Role
While it’s clear that both Harris and the Sixers would be better served by finding a new situation for the forward, he can still provide high-level impact for Philadelphia should he remain on the roster heading into next season.
In the three seasons since joining the Sixers, the 29-year-old wing has averaged 18.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.4 assists throughout the 207 regular-season games he’s participated in, shooting 37.4% from deep and 48.7% from the field.
However, while Harris’ offense production has been consistent, his defense leaves a lot to be desired, especially when asked to guard the perimeter. Any team that has Joel Embiid in their rotation is going to play a healthy dose of drop coverage, which puts additional pressure on the power forward to guard the wings, something which Harris has struggled with at times.
Still, having Harris as your third option isn’t the end of the world – it’s his contract that makes the situation problematic, not his production.
Hayward is Another Trade Options
If the Sixers and Hawks are unable to reach an agreement on a potential trade, the Sixers still have options. The same Eastern Conference executive also told Heavy.com that the Charlotte Hornets could be a potential trade candidate, should the Sixers have an interest in acquiring Gordon Hayward.
“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 Deveney.
So, while Harris’ contract does limit the Sixers’ options in the trade market, he is far from un-tradeable – he still provides you almost 20 points per game, solid rebounding, and will flourish with a bigger role in an offensive scheme. Unfortunately, the Sixers can’t offer Harris that type of role, which is why somebody like Hayward or John Collins makes so much sense.
Of course, we’re only two days removed from the NBA Finals, so there is plenty of time for Morey and the front office to get a deal over the line.