Teams around the NBA are paying close attention to how James Harden‘s stalemate with the Sixers gets resolved, since failing to extract a fair return for the former MVP could adversely affect the franchise’s relationship with its other former MVP, Joel Embiid. As Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer details (subscription required), the division-rival Knicks are one team keeping an eye on the situation in Philadelphia.
Sources tell Pompey that acquiring Embiid would be the top priority for Knicks president Leon Rose if the star center becomes available and that New York would be willing to offer three of Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and Evan Fournier, along with two or three first-round picks.
Pompey himself acknowledges that the Sixers would likely get stronger offers than that for Embiid and wouldn’t want to trade him to another Atlantic team anyway. It’s a moot point for now, since there’s no indication Embiid will be available for trade anytime soon.
Still, Pompey stresses that the way the 76ers settle the Harden standoff could have a ripple effect on their superstar center, and the Knicks aren’t the only team monitoring the situation to see what happens. Meanwhile, sources tell Stefan Bondy of The New York Post that Embiid is one of at least three potential star trade targets the Knicks are surveilling, along with Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell and Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns.
Here’s more on the Sixers:
- As of Monday afternoon, it remained unclear “when and if” Harden plans to return to Philadelphia, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on NBA Today (Twitter video link). “The organization has taken him at his word that he’s away on a personal matter, that there is something he has to attend to,” Wojnarowski said. “But how long will they do that is certainly a question.”
- Wojnarowski suggests that if Harden still hasn’t reported back to the team by its regular season opener on Thursday, it’s possible the 76ers will seek ” more clarity and a timetable” for his return. They’d would be within their rights to fine him $390K for each missed game if they’re not satisfied with his answer, Woj adds.
- Sixers head coach Nick Nurse said on Monday that he has been in touch with Harden during his absence, Pompey writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I did reach out to him the other day … just to text like I would with anybody,” Nurse said. “See how he’s doing. See if he’s all right. He did text me back.” Nurse added that he didn’t get into the specifics of Harden’s potential return during his text exchange with the guard, since he “was just making sure he’s OK.”
- Some people around the league who spoke to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com don’t envy the spot the Sixers and Daryl Morey are in with Harden. One front office source speculated that Morey is “not going to survive this.” Another source who has been in contact with the Clippers and other teams told Bulpett, “Daryl’s trying to steal people in trades, and nobody’s going for it. First thing, Harden’s not the same guy he was three or four years ago, so his market’s not that great. And Morey’s trying to get so much, but he’s not going to get it.”
- Javonte Smart, who had his Exhibit 10 contract converted to a two-way deal over the weekend, spoke to reporters on Monday about getting a regular season opportunity with the team (Twitter video link via Pompey). Smart indicated that if the Sixers want him to play primarily with the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League, he’ll view that as a chance to get regular playing time and to “get better.”