The Philadelphia 76ers have turned the tables coming into the 2020-21 season. Daryl Morey has come aboard and made some drastic changes that will push the productiveness of the Sixers roster to its brink. As it stands, they’re in decent shape to return to prominence in the Eastern Conference.
Even though they may end up being regarded as a top-3 team in the East, their chances of making a deep playoff push could get even better if they decide to pull the trigger on a deal for James Harden who has made it known that he desires to be moved from the Houston Rockets ahead of the season. He’s expanded his trade list to a number of potential suitors, but as of yet, no deals have materialized.
The Rockets front office will be looking for star-like quality in return for Harden given his expertise. They’ve reportedly asked for Ben Simmons in the few trade talks that they’ve had with the 76ers, and it doesn’t appear that Philly is ready to give up on the young superstar yet. With head coach Doc Rivers now in place, the 76ers will want to see how far this team can go with both stars.
Even so, there are other pieces the 76ers could move to gain Harden.
Sixers Receive: James Harden
Rockets Receive: Tobias Harris, Seth Curry; Two first-round picks, One second-round pick
If the Sixers are going to make a deal for the former MVP without including either Joel Embiid or Simmons, throwing in Harris is their best bet. Harris has been exceptionally productive for Philly since he was traded during the 2018-19 season. He’s averaged 19.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game through two seasons.
Surely he doesn’t produce the same nightly numbers as Harden, which is why the extra compensation of picks are thrown into the mix. Still, Harris panning out with Houston would be an underrated prediction.
There’s growing speculation that DeMarcus Cousins could possibly come off the bench, which would move Christian Wood to the center position while leaving the stretch-four position wide open. Even if not, Harris could slide to the small forward position to give the Rockets a truly polished starting five.
The Rockets don’t necessarily pose the best roster talent outside of Harden, John Wall and Cousins. Wood still has some showing to do while most of the other pieces are expendable. Harris can at least return a sane level of production while also grabbing some future draft picks that could be moved around.
For the 76ers, obtaining Harden pushes them to the top of the East, where they’d likely battle it out with the Brooklyn Nets going into the playoffs. The moves that have been made thus far will push them past the sixth seed in which they finished with last year, but it doesn’t make them championship contenders. Rivers is dedicated to transforming the Embiid-Simmons play level to an unprecedented magnitude, but it still may not end up being enough to get them over the hump.
With the Nets moving out of conversations for Harden, the spotlight is now on Philly to land their biggest star in recent memory.