Responding to speculation that Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey may welcome the opportunity to tear down and rebuild the roster, Marc Stein expresses skepticism (Substack link), observing that Morey has never displayed an appetite for a rebuild during his time as a head basketball operations executive.
If the Sixers do end up moving James Harden for a package that’s heavier on draft assets than win-now players, Stein anticipates the club will look to flip those picks for another top-level player.
Philadelphia’s ultimate goal, according to Stein, is to supplement its Joel Embiid/Tyrese Maxey duo with another star. Ideally, a Harden trade would net that sort of star or open up a path to land one, but the 76ers are also preserving cap flexibility for 2024, which could create another opportunity to pursue an impact player.
Here’s more on Harden and the Sixers:
- The worst-case scenario for the 76ers would be if the ongoing Harden situation becomes ugly enough to result in an Embiid trade request. Embiid isn’t at that point, according to Stein, but some sources who spoke to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com believe Philadelphia needs to proceed with caution in order to ensure Embiid remains happy.
- Keith Smith of Spotrac takes an in-depth look at Harden’s stand-off with the Sixers, including how his contract situation factors into the equation and what sort of solution might resolve what has become an increasingly tense “staring contest.”
- Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer takes stock of where things stand between the Sixers and Harden, noting that it’s good news for the team that the NBA’s latest investigation apparently turned up no indications of a cap-circumventing handshake deal between the two sides when the veteran free agent guard reached free agency a year ago. Mizell also considers which Sixers players will take on more ball-handling responsibilities if Harden has played his last game for the team.