The Philadelphia 76ers are gearing up for a championship run this year with the acquisition of James Harden, and if the two games with him in the lineup are anything to go by, then the team will be very dangerous in the playoffs.
After looking lethargic throughout much of the year in Brooklyn, Harden looks like his old self and he looks like he fits perfectly with MVP front runner Joel Embiid, although there are some analysts who don’t quite believe it.
While a lot of the focus on the team is on their dynamic duo of Embiid and Harden, the Sixers do have some other pieces that can step up during any given game.
One notable example is Tobias Harris, somebody who has played a big role this year in the absence of Ben Simmons. Harris has always been a good scorer, so he was more than able to step up, but now the Harden trade has forced him to take a step back.
However, he might’ve taken too much of a back seat and according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, there is chatter from rival NBA executives about his trade value in the offseason. Through the two games with Harden, Harris has attempted just nine shots in each of them, which is down from his usual 14.8 per game, as pointed out by Bleacher Report’s Tim Daniels.
Speaking on the Hoop Collective podcast, Windhorst points out there are now questions about how the forward fits into the long-term plans in Philadelphia. Windhorst previously reported the Sixers were trying to ship Harris out before the deadline, so they don’t seem to have any hesitation in trading him.
“[NBA execs are] already speculating what Tobias Harris trades might look like this summer,” he says at the 17:22 mark.
He goes on to mention their backup center, perimeter defense, and other key spots need to be upgraded, and Harris’s contract being moved could be the only way to do so.
There’s nothing to worry about for Sixers fans just yet, but if Harris’s role does continue to diminish, and their weaknesses get exposed, there could be some questions that have to be answered.
Harris Becomes the 3rd Option
With the addition of Harden, it’s only natural that Harris slides to the third option on the team, and he has definitely proven he can be a deadly one. Averaging over 18 points per game at the moment, he’s still a threat that will have to be treated as such, which plays into the hands of the new duo in town.
While his three point shooting is down from last year, sitting at 34.7 percent versus 39.4 from last year, he’s still somebody who can knock down the long ball and has to be respected. If he were to be put on the trade block, he’d likely garner a lot of interest from around the league.
After starting off his career as a bit of a journeyman, this season has now made the Sixers his most played for team, surpassing the Orlando Magic who were his second team in the NBA.
Could He Be Moved?
Harris becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2024 and he’s in the midst of a $180 million contract, so a team would need to have a lot of cap room to acquire him.
This is a bit easier to do in the offseason, but all of that is banking on if Philadelphia would even want to let him go.
If the Ben Simmons saga taught anybody anything, it’s that Daryl Morey, the Sixers GM, will hang onto his pieces until he feels the right offer comes along. He won’t just get rid of players for the sake of getting rid of them. If Harris truly doesn’t fit in now that Harden is in town, then the Sixers will cross that bridge.