According to Shams Charania, the Sixers have already had preliminary discussions on trades in anticipation of that Dec. 15 deadline when certain players on new deals become trade eligible. And one player named in The Athletics’ pre-Thanksgiving trade slop round up, was none other than Sixers’ forward Tobias Harris.
We’ve heard Harris’ name come up in talks more than a few times over the last 12 months. Remember, there were rumors that Sixers President Daryl Morey connected with teams like the Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings on this subject as part of a larger Ben Simmons blockbuster. At one point, Marc Stein reported the Kings even did some “due diligence” on Harris.
The gist of those chats at the time was basically that teams felt Harris’ contract was still a bit pricy. But as we head into the dead of winter, perhaps there’s a team out there who starts to see Tobias more like a year-and-a-half expiring deal, with best-in-class intangibles. He entered the year owed $37.6M this season, with a guaranteed $39.2M for 2023-2024.
The segment from Shams isn’t exactly a bombshell, but here’s what was said:
76ers officials have begun their usual check-ins with teams across the league ahead of the Dec. 15 date for players who signed contracts in the offseason to be traded, when trade talks begin to intensify. Philadelphia’s Tobias Harris has come up in the 76ers’ conversations with clubs so far, league sources said.
In his 12th NBA season, Harris has adapted to a new role and has been regarded as a model teammate and leader for the 76ers. He’s averaged 14.7 points and 6.2 rebounds while attempting 12.1 field goals per game — the lowest since his 2015-16 season in Orlando.”
On the one hand, I’m inclined to chalk this up as just one of many trade talks. On the other, between the first attempt to trade Ben Simmons for James Harden in January of 2021, it took about 13 months for Morey and co. to trade Ben. Maybe Morey and Elton Brand will actually move the talented forward out of Tennessee this time around. Might they feel they can arbitrage his hefty contract into two small contracts who fit more of a need? They can still use a tough-minded defender who loves draining triples. (Who doesn't?)
The lede of Shams piece is about John Collins. And we know Morey talked to Atlanta about Harris once already. Is it possible he’d eye the disgruntled high-flyer down in Georgia? That might be intriguing for some fans, but it wouldn’t necessarily solve the team’s issues, as Collins is an even more reluctant 3-point shooter than Harris is. And you’d still have the “two power forwards in one starting lineup” thing there too. Collins' ability as a lob threat might be diminished with Joel Embiid frequently attacking the paint as well.
We know Morey has had his eye on Eric Gordon (who seems quite available) at one point. Lu Dort feels like a guy Daryl could like, they’d have to wait until January for him. Maybe Morey would be looking for two players on smaller contracts in exchange for Harris’ $38m.
Harris is averaging 14.7 points, 1.6 steals, 6.2 rebounds, shooting a hot 39.7 from distance. He’s done everything Doc Rivers’ staff has asked him to do and more in terms of making himself fit a sometimes awkward lineup for his skillset. Surely, he’d love to handle the ball more but on a team with Joel Embiid, James Harden, and now Tyrese Maxey, too there just isn’t a ton of room for dribble-drive creation. And to his credit, he’s improved his defense, and worked on expediting his three-point trigger, while still making them at a good clip.
Enjoy a healthy dollop of slop on this Friday. There will surely be more to come as it gets colder outside. At 7-7, let’s be honest, the Sixers need some sort of a splash. At least they’re beginning to make calls.