Barring a last-minute change in developments, the Philadelphia 76ers' James Harden conundrum will be brought into training camp. The Sixers are left with very few options — much less good ones — for how to solve it. Trading away Harden is the only way to ensure any type of harmony leading into the season, but they still have to recoup some amount of value. To make it happen, they should team up with one of their rivals, the Miami Heat.

The Sixers and Heat are rivals of sorts by virtue of their competition in the Eastern Conference and past trade history, though Jimmy Butler has firmly gotten the upper hand on his former team. Butler and Miami provided the first chapter of disappointment in Philly’s Harden-Joel Embiid era before the two stars themselves brought another one with a Game 7 flop against the Boston Celtics. The Heat are everything the Sixers want to be — and one gigantic reason is the Philly star they convinced to come aboard.

The James Harden situation

James Harden, Daryl Morey, Philadelphia 76ers, NBA Rumors

The Sixers trading another star to the Heat may not be the best look, but at this point, it's all they have. There are very few viable takers for The Beard, whose contract ends after this season and whose patience with teams tends to expire quickly, too.. At least Sixers fans won’t cry about another trade sending a star to Miami. If they do, it will be cheers of joy. You would be hard-pressed to find a Philly fan who isn’t itching to see Harden gone.

The Sixers need to trade Harden. Team president of baseball operations Daryl Morey and owner Josh Harris would like to convince him to stay, but they've got no chance. Harden's mind is made up and he is never one to change it. Calling Morey a “liar” and swearing off any organization he's a part of was a decision that he knew would make things messy and complicated

Harden knows that teams need leverage to trade stars who request a move in order to get a good return package, as he explained regarding the Damian Lillard saga. But he couldn’t even hide his disdain for the organization to allow them to better accommodate his trade request. Philly did stop its trade talks with Harden's preferred destination, the Los Angeles Clippers, but that didn’t necessarily mean that they had to stop permanently. Starting them back up now after Harden tanked his trade value is not at all an appealing option for Morey and the front office.

Now the Sixers seem stuck with him and will enter the season with a pending trade looming over them. The Heat are in a similar boat as the team Lillard has circled as his lone desired destination but has yet to join.

The Heat want Lillard but don’t have assets. They've tried to come up with the right deal to entice the Portland Trail Blazers but haven’t been able to strike. Now, Portland appears to be frustrated to the point where they are reluctant to negotiate with them. The Heat aren’t screwed if they don’t land Lillard, though it's clear they need to discover an extra gear in order to win a title.

Since the Sixers have to trade Harden and the Heat want another star, they should seek to help each other out. Harden is definitely the less-heralded option between him and Lillard, but he's still one of the best guards in the game. A trade for him would also carry the silver lining of retaining assets for future moves.

The possible Sixers-Heat James Harden trade

James Harden, Miami Heat, James Harden trade, Heat trade, Sixers trade

The trade could go something like this: the Heat receive Harden and Danuel House Jr., while the Sixers get Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. Let's dive into how this trade impacts both teams and why they would each be enticed to make this deal.

The foundation of any Harden-Heat trade would likely include Herro, potentially the best player Philly could get in return. A shooter/scorer like him would work super well with Embiid. He has plenty of playoff experience, has grown in areas like playmaking and defense over the years and has a big-but-not-albatross contract that lasts for three more seasons.

A deal centered around Kyle Lowry's expiring contract and assets like a future draft pick and a young layer like Nikola Jovic or Jamie Jaquez Jr. makes more sense under the Sixers' goal of maintaining salary-cap flexibility next summer. However, such a deal would still leave them in need of a high-level player. Flipping those assets for another star is possible but not guaranteed.

The Sixers' plan of using cap space to lure a new star next offseason would be canceled with the addition of Herro and Robinson's contacts. But getting proven talent now — especially one on the younger side in the 23-year-old Herro — is a much more secure route. Holding out hope for someone who will be available next offseason and have a desire to join Philly is not worth it. Plus, Robinson actually gives them a needed sharpshooter. Unless Furkan Korkmaz re-enters the rotation, the Sixers will continue to be down a floor spacer after Georges Niang's departure.

The Heat have shown a willingness to move Herro for Lillard, but would they do the same for Harden? While getting off the Robinson contract makes the deal extra beneficial for Miami, they would have to be convinced that Harden can get them over the hump. Lillard is the more appealing option, namely because of his history of big playoff performances, but Harden, even after a third trade demand in four years and one of his worst seasons scoring inside the arc, is still a great player.

Harden gives the Heat an elite creator they were rumored to have an interest in leading up to his opt-in and trade demand. His playmaking and perimeter-scoring skills would make things so much easier for Butler and Bam Adebayo (at least on offense) and give Miami someone who can run with the backups for stretches while his fellow stars rest. House is pretty much a throw-in, but he would provide the Heat with an athletic 3-and-D wing who could, at least, soak up minutes in the regular season.

The Heat would also have a lot of cap space open after the contracts of Harden and Lowry expire, which could help convince them to part with Herro. Harden will likely be an upgrade this season and Miami has no time to wait. They have a legitimate shot at winning a title. Yes, it seems to be written in stone that Harden is a square peg to the round hole of a championship run, but Miami has not only the infrastructure to accommodate him but a need for an offensive engine like him.

Harden may prefer the Clippers, but the Heat still give him a favorable situation: a legitimate shot at a title with other All-Stars in a glamorous city. While LA is his hometown, Miami should still work for him just fine. While the Clippers may be his primary choice, he made the decision to give the Sixers the ultimate power to dictate where he goes. Shooting for the moon that is LA and landing in the stars of South Beach should be a change of trajectory he can accept.

Bidding war? 

James Harden, Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, Philadelphia 76ers

Plus, negotiations with the Heat could implore the Clippers to make a bigger offer for Harden. They won’t even offer Terance Mann right now. Like the Heat in the Lillard negotiations, being the only bidder means withholding a sizable offer. If that changes, the Sixers could work their way into hosting a bidding war that gets them better offers.

The Heat could be too deep into Lillard to pivot to Harden but, similarly, looking into Harden could make the Blazers more likely to come to the negotiating table. There isn’t a major market for Lillard — though that’s partly because Lillard made it clear that he only wants to go to Miami — but the road really appears to be ending for Portland and its franchise superstar. If the Heat show they have other options to upgrade, the Blazers may want to spring into action.

While there are other possible non-Clippers suitors for Harden, the Heat make the most sense. A team like the Chicago Bulls or Minnesota Timberwolves may be interested in adding a player like Harden to help them win now, but it's tough to see Harden accepting a trade to teams with outside shots at a championship. Miami can also give the Sixers a return they can feel pretty good about.

The Sixers can choose to wait for a better offer for Harden, but they'll be waiting for a while. They have to be productive about getting him off the roster and getting a trade that has a chance of working out for them. The Heat have one to offer and are ready to splurge on a star guard. The clock is ticking.