Sixers Notes: Harden, Embiid, Rivers, Offseason

As the rumors linking to James Harden to the Rockets persist, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggests it’s still an open question whether those leaks are primarily aimed at generating leverage for Harden in his talks with the Sixers. Appearing on Pardon The Interruption (video link) this week, Windhorst suggested that Philadelphia is reluctant to give Harden a maximum-salary contract, especially if no rival suitors are willing to do so.

“The 76ers have not shown an appetite to pay Harden the max,”Windhorst said (hat tip to Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire). “That’s why they asked him to take a pay cut last year. The Rockets have the cap space. Do they do it? You know, there’s been a very hard rumor out there in the NBA about Harden’s intent to go back to Houston, and it makes you wonder if it’s being sold a little bit too hard and that’s certainly something that people are considering.

“I guess we’re gonna wait and find out, but again… the Sixers are not really motivated to pay him that max salary if they don’t think anybody else is gonna do it.”

Based on current cap projections for 2023/24, a four-year maximum-salary contract for Harden in Philadelphia would be worth approximately $210MM. A five-year deal is essentially impossible due to the NBA’s over-38 rule.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • In a mailbag for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Keith Pompey writes that Joel Embiid is “untouchable” for now and opines that Nick Nurse would be the best head coaching candidate for the 76ers’ star center.
  • While opting to replace Doc Rivers after three years was a reasonable decision, Rivers didn’t do a bad job this postseason and there probably wasn’t a coach who would’ve put the Sixers over the top this year, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic says within a mailbag on the team’s approach to the offseason. Hofmann also discusses Embiid’s future in Philadelphia and the club’s salary cap outlook, among other topics.
  • In part two of his mailbag, Hofmann evaluates Tobias Harris‘ trade value and identifies some possible free agent targets for the Sixers in the event that Harden walks. Donte DiVincenzo, Bruce Brown, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, and Seth Curry are among the players that could be of interest to Philadelphia in free agency, in Hofmann’s view.
  • Each of the Sixers’ rumored head coaching candidates has their own set of baggage, according to Mike Sielski of The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required), who identifies the red flags for Mike Budenholzer and Nurse, among others.
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