As the Philadelphia 76ers make an effort to re-sign James Harden, they also have to figure out backup options. Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns are definitely moving on from Chris Paul. The only question that remains is how they will do it. One idea that has been discussed in league circles is the Sixers and Suns swapping their veteran star guards.
According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the idea of a Harden-for-Paul swap has “quietly circulated around some league personnel since the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.” The trade would require Harden to sign a new contract since he is unlikely to pick up his player option. Paul previously did so to make a trade work when the Houston Rockets paired him with Harden in 2017, as Fischer noted, but Harden is not expected to pass up the chance to secure a long-term deal.
The majority of reports on Harden's free agency have suggested that it's a two-team race between the Sixers and Houston Rockets. The Suns trail in the race but have been linked to the Beard numerous times.
Seeing the two aging stars get moved for each other would make for a fascinating move. Paul would make for a solid replacement for Harden, as his playmaking and shooting would benefit Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey immensely. In Phoenix, the offensive triumvirate of Harden, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker would be a tough one for opposing defenses to handle.
The Sixers also have interest in Fred VanVleet, the Toronto Raptors point guard who has lots of familiarity with new head coach Nick Nurse. Philly would prefer to keep Harden but is scouring the market for alternatives. Phoenix is doing the same as it looks to find a new point guard.