The two sides are aligned on a reunion, but Philadelphia’s ownership is reluctant to offer Harden the full four-year, maximum-salary extension he’d be eligible for if he opts into his 2022/23 player option worth $47.4MM, which he’s expected to do, according to Fischer.
Fischer notes that a two-year extension would give Harden significant financial security while allowing more flexibility if things don’t work out with the Sixers. Harden could earn approximately $1.5MM more in a theoretical three-year contract if he waits until August 10, which is six months after he was traded to Philadelphia, Fischer adds.
It’s also possible that Harden could take less than the max to create more roster flexibility to build around star center Joel Embiid, who finished second in the MVP race for the second consecutive year. For that to make sense, the team would have to move off some long-term salary.
Fischer’s sources confirm a report from The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor stating that the Sixers are dangling the No. 23 pick and Danny Green in trade talks, but as we previously mentioned, using Green’s expiring contract as a salary-matching piece would also be a little tricky, since it’s currently non-guaranteed, meaning it would count as $0 for outgoing purposes.
The Sixers could guarantee some or all of Green’s $10MM salary to make it more useful in a trade. But the more money they guarantee, the less appealing it will be as an asset to a potential trade partner, since Green is expected to miss most or all of next season after tearing his ACL.
Fischer also confirms a report from Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that the Sixers are dangling Matisse Thybulle and Tobias Harris in trade talks. However, Philly values Thybulle’s strong defense and believes his poor performance in the playoffs may have been a result of being ineligible to play in Toronto due to his vaccination status, Fischer writes.
The Sixers would require “a significant upgrade to their rotation” in the form of a starting-caliber player in order to move Thybulle, according to Fischer.
While Fischer doesn’t specify what Philadelphia would be looking for in exchange for Harris, he does note that “Harris’ representation has made it known that the veteran would like more on-ball opportunities within the Sixers’ offense, particularly in pick-and-roll action.”