The stove is heating up, friends.
This morning, ESPN NBA Insider Brian Windhorst, forever immortalized for coining the phrase, “The Deal Zone,” which was used when Philadelphia and Brooklyn were nearing the consummation of the James Harden-for-Ben Simmons trade talks, had this to say about where things stand in terms of Philadelphia’s activity on the trade market as free agency nears:
"I don't think Philly will be done. We are hearing a lot about Tobias Harris on the trade market."— ’ (@_Talkin_NBA) June 30, 2022
— Brian Windhorst on other moves the Sixers could move after extending James Harden#NBATwitter #PhilaUnite pic.twitter.com/O0yzzopsFH
This comes in light of yesterday’s news that Harden will opt out of his $47 million option and sign at a more team-friendly number, thus enabling the Sixers to maneuver more freely and retrofit the roster around he, Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.
News that Harris is on the trade market is not completely shocking, of course. He’s the fourth banana now, given Harden’s addition and Maxey’s ascension, and despite an uptick in his willingness to shoot threes and an improvement in his defense in the Toronto series, he’s far from a perfect fit at the power forward spot given the current lineup.
Combine that with the Sixers all-but-official signing of P.J. Tucker and the media whispers that Harris is itching for a more prominent role in the offense, and it’s not hard to figure why the team and Harris might agree that a new destination might be in all parties’ best interest.
The trouble has been for years that Harris is a hard player to trade given his good-never-great play, combined with his mammoth contract. He’s due to make $37 million this year and $39 million next year. But where there’s smoke there’s usually fire, and maybe Daryl Morey has found the right team to take on Harris while swapping the Sixers a helpful player or two who better fit what this roster has become.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that there’s much more afoot than simply James Harden taking less money. Hold onto your hats, we may be entering The Deal Zone again.