Sixers Could Be Looking to Trade $180 Million Star Next Season

Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers

Getty Tobias Harris #12 and Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Philadelphia 76ers have done their fair share of wheeling and dealing this summer, including dipping into both the trade and free agency market.

And lost amidst the additions of De’Anthony Melton, Danuel House, PJ Tucker, and Montrezl Harrell is the fact that the Sixers somehow lured all four without having to sacrifice too much in cap space. Yes, trading Danny Green and his $10 million to Memphis opened some breathing room, but the Sixers found a way to stretch their dollars to the max. It’s that very reason why fans are so high on Daryl Morey after the successful summer.

Once upon a time, it looked like the Sixers would have to move salaries to make room for roster upgrades. And one player was often pegged as the likeliest to go in order to clear space: Tobias Harris.

And it’s plain to see why. Harris’ contract is a mammoth. Though, unlike its wooly counterparts, Harris’ contract isn’t going extinct anytime soon. The Sixers are on the hook for nearly $77 million over the next two seasons, the final two of a five-year, $180 million the forward signed in 2019.

But amid sweltering summer heat domes, trade speculation surrounding Harris cooled. That might be only a temporary cold wave, though, according to Noah Levick of NBC Sports. According to Levick, if any of Philadelphia’s big-four of Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and Harris are going to be moved, it’s the latter.

“If the Sixers’ current “core four” doesn’t finish the year together, Harris appears the likeliest to leave. A Joel Embiid trade would be more stunning than any James Harden off-court drama over the past two years. Anyone exposed to Tyrese Maxey seems to cherish him and believe he’ll keep rising. Maxey will turn 22 years old when the Sixers host the Knicks on Nov. 4,” Levick wrote on September 9.

It’s certainly unsurprising that Harris would be the first to go. After all, he’s making more than either Joel Embiid and James Harden next season.

The Sixers Kicked the Tires on a Harris Trade This Summer

Harris might still be on the Sixers’ roster come next month, but it likely won’t be for lack of trying to move him on the front office’s part. Heavy NBA Insider Sean Deveney was informed this summer that the Sixers “have exhausted every avenue on a Tobias deal.”

“They overpaid him and no one wants that contract. That’s just the situation they’re in. They’ve been saying that Tobias Harris is not getting traded, but the reality is, he is not getting traded because they could not find a deal for him, not because they stopped trying,” the exec added.

But the summer is also not where GM Daryl Morey has done his best work.

“Wherever the Sixers stand, nobody expects Morey to sit in silence at the deadline” Levick added. “He’d made plenty of significant deadline deals before last season, acquiring George Hill in 2021; Robert Covington in 2020; Lou Williams in 2017; Goran Dragić in 2011; Kevin Martin in 2010; Kyle Lowry in 2009.”

It’s a long list of strong results from Morey. But also none of those players earned quite the same contract as Harris, which could make a move this time around exponentially trickier.

Tobias Harris Ranked as the No. 4 Sixer Heading into Next Season

Despite his huge contract, Harris would likely slot in as a top option for many teams. In fact, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley believes that Harris would be higher than a team’s fourth-best option anywhere else.

“Harris wouldn’t be a fourth option in many (any?) other places, but his over-qualifications for the gig just speak to the talent the Sixers have assembled. Last season wasn’t even particularly sharp by his standards, and he still averaged 17.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists while posting a 48.2/36.7/84.2 slash line,” wrote Buckley on September 8.

If the Sixers did find a taker for Harris’ contract, they likely wouldn’t find a player quite as “overqualified” as Harris. The team would likely be taking back another team’s contract problem or forking over future picks to offload Harris.

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