NBA

The Sixers Have Interest in Pursuing James Harden

Jan 27, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) puts his arm around Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) as they walk together in the final seconds of the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletic reports the revamped Philadelphia 76er’s front office has an interest in pursuing James Harden. Daryl Morey, the new Sixers President of Basketball Operations, and James Harden have had a great relationship working together in Houston. Morey viewed Harden as a budding superstar and acquired him when the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t meet Harden’s contract expectation. He gave Harden full reign of the Rockets when he arrived in Houston and gave him a path to stardom. Years later, the Rocket’s continued run of success seems to be coming to an end.

Amazingly, the Rockets were able to sustain such a high level of success. Year after year, they seem to be in the mix in the playoffs. While they never reached an NBA Finals, that shouldn’t be the end all be all of an organization. Both ownerships Morey operated under weren’t willing to spend extra money on the roster. Very rarely did Rockets go into the luxury tax. What makes Morey such a great GM is that he could extract every ounce of value from overlooked players and keep a reliable team around Harden.

However, there are only so many picks and young assets an organization can move on from to cut spending. The Rockets window is coming to a close with no young assets on the roster nor control over their picks the next few seasons.

It’s not a surprise the 76ers front office is looking to add more star talent. The 76ers only seem to make big move after big move on and off the court. Ownership showed they are willing to spend money even during the pandemic. When other teams are cutting costs on staff, the 76ers spend money on big names such as Daryl Morey and Doc Rivers.

A Harden-Simmons or Harden-Embiid two-person game would be impossible to stop. He would give the Sixers the best shot creator in the league. The 76ers roster would be able to help Harden as well. Simmons and Embiid can take usage off of Harden and leave him fresh for the fourth quarter.

It’s an exciting thought of bringing Harden to the Sixers, but it’s unlikely to happen. Current Rockets owner, Tilman Fertitta, is losing money in his restaurant business right now. It’s highly likely he wants the Rockets to remain competitive to bring in some revenue. For that reason, it’s not plausible to assume the Rockets want to blow things up. In reality, they have no choice. Even if they do start rebuilding now, they have nothing, to begin with. They don’t control their pick until 2022.

What about the 76ers?

For the 76ers, Morey will probably move Al Horford at some point. He doesn’t fit well with the roster, and his contract is easier to deal with than Tobias Harris. Teams around the league could be looking for a big to counter Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, and Joel Embiid (ironically, the Celtics are a good fit here). Regarding the Philly tandem of Embiid and Simmons, Morey will probably give it some time before deciding to go in a different direction. If the roster isn’t working by the trade deadline, watch for some blockbuster moves for the Sixers.

Lastly, for James Harden, there is a world where he reunites with Morey down the line. Possibly after the 2021-2022 season, Harden can opt-out of his contract and meet up wherever Morey is at that point.

Harden to the Sixers will be undoubtedly exciting, but unfortunately, it’s probably not going to happen. Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to see the directions the Rockets and 76ers go next year.

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