In recent weeks, reports linking James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers have swelled. Whether it’s ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline or this summer’s free agency, credible news seems to suggest Philadelphia is a major threat to pry him from the Brooklyn Nets at some point.
Complicating matters is the Sixers’ financials, given they’re already a luxury tax team and Harden can command a record-setting contract this summer. Needing to free up significant cap space to land him removes some of the leverage they could have over Brooklyn in current negotiations or in a sign-and-trade after the season (a straight Ben Simmons-for-Harden swap isn’t financially tenable for Philadelphia, for what it’s worth).
Trading Simmons, who’s in year two of a five-year rookie max extension, elsewhere could help, as could dealing Tobias Harris, who’s in year three of an escalating five-year, $180 million contract. They’re the two highest-paid Sixers.
My Liberty Ballers coworkers, David Early and Steve Lipman, addressed the possibility this week of a team with cap space acquiring Harris and the potential ramifications regarding a Harden deal.
Shortly after that, on Tuesday night, Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice reported such an idea isn’t purely speculation:
If the Sixers eventually need to move Tobias Harris in order to clear the cap space necessary to sign Harden in the summer, sources familiar with the situation say they have two potential suitors with cap space lined up who they could move Harris to if they need to clear the decks.
The pick-collecting Thunder are an obvious team to watch. Whether you believe that’s a central part of their plan or a threat meant to bring down the Nets’ current ask, that’s the word that keeps slipping out.
Sorting through all the reports these days can be overwhelming. But, with Thursday’s deadline looming and the Sixers looking to bolster their roster, this tidbit of info certainly seems noteworthy.