It sure feels like Tobias Harris, ever since he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019, hasn't left the trading block. And as is tradition, Harris' name is, yet again, being thrown around in trade talks, as reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
By and large, Harris' acquisition has been a success. He's been one of the more consistent scorers in the NBA over the past five seasons, and for his Sixers career, he's averaging 18.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists on 48 percent shooting from the field and 37 percent from deep.
However, the opportunity cost for having kept Tobias Harris surely stings for Sixers fans, given how the front office essentially chose the 6'8 forward over Butler, who promptly led the Miami Heat to an NBA Finals appearance a year after his Philly departure.
Will this finally be the time that the Sixers pull the trigger on a Harris trade in hopes of acquiring a more seamless fit alongside superstars Joel Embiid and James Harden? Harris' smooth scoring ability for his size makes him a versatile weapon to slot alongside ball-dominant superstars, especially when he's embraced a more catch-and-shoot role this season.
Nonetheless, if there's anyone who has to make room for a potential upgrade, it's Harris. The Sixers front office could certainly parlay his $37.6 million salary for the 2022-23 season into multiple contributors across the board that could bolster the team's shooting and defensive depth.
Here are 3 ideal trades the Sixers could make should they decide that it's time to cut ties with Tobias Harris.
Sixers trade Tobias Harris, and two second-round picks to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Eric Gordon, KJ Martin, Jae'Sean Tate, and Garrison Mathews (after January 15)
With the Sixers having acquired James Harden, PJ Tucker, and Danuel House Jr. over the past year, it might be time for Daryl Morey to bring back yet another member of the band in Eric Gordon, who is now 33 years of age.
The Sixers, in this hypothetical scenario, are also taking a chance on Martin's potential as a disruptive defensive presence and his work-in-progress outside shot. Martin is currently averaging 11.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists, and if he makes further improvements, he could be then become a fixture of the Sixers' rotation, or perhaps even the starting lineup, for years to come.
It's also worth mentioning that Martin asked for a trade from the Rockets due to his lack of involvement (which he has since walked back on), so Houston could potentially revisit a trade involving the 21-year old highflyer.
Meanwhile, Tate, who is currently out with an injury, could provide the Sixers with much-needed energy and hustle to go along with a bit of scoring punch and Mathews could then infuse the team with additional outside marksmanship.
The Rockets would end up taking on Harris' hefty deal that runs through the end of the 2023-24 season, but they would also add to their draft pick coffers in the process. And it's not as if Harris wouldn't help the Rockets achieve a bit more sense of competence, as he should be a seamless fit in the starting lineup alongside Kevin Porter Jr., Jalen Green, and Jabari Smith Jr.
Sixers deal Tobias Harris to the Phoenix Suns for Jae Crowder, Landry Shamet, Dario Saric, Josh Okogie, protected first-round pick, one second-round pick
The Suns have recently expressed interest in Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins, but are also reportedly unwilling to take on a hefty salary commitment. So what makes it different for the Suns in this scenario?
For starters, Collins' deal may run until 2026, whereas Tobias Harris' is slated to expire in 2024. Harris' deal may cost around $12 to $14 million more, but the Suns' title contending window is wide open at the moment, and it's not as if they're trading away players who are logging heavy minutes. Only Shamet, among those four mentioned, is playing more than 10 minutes a night.
Harris could then give the Suns another reliable option who can create for himself on offense, which could be especially vital amid Cameron Johnson's knee injury.
Meanwhile, Jae Crowder, along with PJ Tucker and Matisse Thybulle, should give Philly three hard-nosed defenders to take on the league's best scorers on a nightly basis.
Sixers fans would also love to welcome back old friends in Shamet and Saric. Shamet could give the Sixers someone to work the vaunted two-man game with Joel Embiid – something reminiscent of his relationship with JJ Redick in years past. Saric, on the other hand, could provide the team with much-needed interior depth, someone who could space the floor at a reasonable level in addition being a heady ball-mover as he works his way back from the injury he suffered back in the 2021 NBA Finals.
Sixers ship Tobias Harris, one second-round pick to the Charlotte Hornets for Gordon Hayward and PJ Washington
It might be reckless for the Sixers to take on another oft-injured player in Gordon Hayward, but the true gem of this deal is four-year forward PJ Washington. Washington was unable to come to an agreement with the Hornets on a rookie extension, so perhaps that leaves the door open for a potential trade.
Washington could then be at his best playing off of playmakers such as Harden and Tyrese Maxey, able to provide the Sixers reliable floor spacing and an enticing small-ball option when Embiid needs to take a breather.
Meanwhile, the Hornets acquire a proven scorer who rarely misses games in Tobias Harris, a necessity for them given the injury woes they've been dealing with, none bigger than LaMelo Ball's ankle problems. Harris would then immediately take the starting power forward mantle in Charlotte – perhaps his best position, given how he can be a mismatch problem for some forwards who are too slow to guard the perimeter.