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Rumor roundup: Harden back? Sixers out on Beal, LaVine? Maxey untouchable? Plus Reed, Niang, McDaniels FA intel

With the NBA Draft now less than a week away, then free agency shortly after, there’s no shortage of Sixers rumors flying around.

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Philadelphia 76ers v Washington Wizards Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

It’s been a rough month in Sixersville. Fans had to watch the one the team let get away in Jimmy Butler lead the Heat to the NBA Finals for the second time since he departed Philadelphia back in 2019. Then fans had to watch Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid’s perennial rival for MVP, basically cakewalk through the postseason en route to the Nuggets’ first-ever championship, and Joker’s own Finals MVP.

But let’s get to the latest NBA rumors and see if the Sixers can close the gap this offseason between themselves and the top teams.

Bill Simmons Pod: Harden staying put?

Washington Wizards v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Ringer founder Bill Simmons dropped a pod and got around to some key Sixers-related stuff.

Give the full pod a listen but there was one part that caught my attention.

Per The Bill Simmons Podcast:

“Simmons: “I know for a fact that Embiid wanted [Bradley] Beal [before the Harden-Simmons trade in Feb. 2022]. Well, I’ll tell you this, heard last night from a little birdie, Harden going back to Philly is way more realistic and probable than everyone is giving him credit for, including myself up to yesterday, when I heard about this, ’cause everyone is like ‘oh he’s going to Houston,’ there’s been some Philly buzz and I think that’s one of the reasons they’re not in the Beal sweepstakes.”

Joe House: [If you’re a Philly fan] the best case scenario is keeping Harden trading Tobias Harris’ expiring...

Simmons: “I don’t think like Harris and some pick in 2029 —

House:— is gonna be enough.”

I recently agreed with House:

Simmons seems to think that if the Miami Heat put Tyler Herro on the table for Beal, that would top a Sixers offer centered around Tobias Harris, Jaden Springer and a future pick. House didn’t necessarily agree. What do you think?

Jake Fisher and Dan Devine: tons of breadcrumbs

Golden State Warriors v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The next pod I got around to was Yahoo Sports “No Cap Room” featuring Fischer and Devine. It was loaded with great content so go listen to the full pod before reading my takeaways.

Per Jake Fischer, Senior NBA Reporter for Yahoo Sports, via the “No Cap Room pod:”

Fischer: : “...[Beal’s] no trade clause is the biggest deal, off the jump.... I talked to a couple team people, who shared... many fears about the length of the deal, especially now... regardless of subject matter, it’s been a clear theme ... every single team is scared of [the new CBA’s] second tax apron, and it’s gonna effectively be a hard cap....limiting your flexibility. I don’t know how many teams are gonna be passing the second apron, like ever, let alone this year.”

And if you’ve been reading the tea leaves along with us regarding the Beal-Sixers non-situation, it sounds as if the Sixers could be one of those teams highly mindful of the new CBA’s punitive restrictions.

So who wants Bradley Beal?

Washington Wizards v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

By now you’ve probably heard teams like the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks pop up here.

Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report recently reported “the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks are expected to talk with Beal and his agent, Mark Bartlestein, sources say.”

Shams Charania has heard similar things:

Fischer, who has also broken news on this topic, continued on the subject of Beal’s future:

“Miami is definitely out there. Keep hearing Milwaukee too. But the Milwaukee thing, I’m just raising an eyebrow at, because mathematically feels like it has to include Khris Middleton and by all accounts Middleton and the Bucks are hoping to find a new deal....outside of those two teams, the Knicks are a team I’m gonna keep an eye on for sure... Boston I’m being told ‘no,’ Philadelphia I’m being told ‘no.’”

Boom. So Philly is out on Beal huh? Remember, Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice also recently explained to us “why the Sixers aren’t going to trade for [Beal].”

But what IS the price for Beal?

Miami Heat v New York Knicks Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Fischer had this to add:

“If the Wizards want to go a draft pick rout [then taking bad unwanted salary like Knicks’ shooter Evan Fournier] then that’s fine, if they want to try to prioritize blue-chip prospects I don’t know if they’re getting any better than [Miami’s] Tyler Herro or the best that New York has to offer of the RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley can throw in Quentin Grimes too....”

Funny side note, all of Beal, Herro, Barrett, Jayson Tatum and Joel Embiid have worked out together because they share a skills trainer in Drew Hanlen.

If they’re on a group text chain it must be blowing up with all these rumors.

Chris Paul-James Harden Nugget

Philadelphia 76ers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

We got a Chris Paul Nugget.

Fischer recently reported for Yahoo Sports the following:

“And then there’s the idea of Phoenix exchanging Paul for James Harden, which has quietly circulated around some league personnel since the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.”

Devine asked Fischer about that idea.

Here was the former Liberty Baller’s reply:

“I am operating with the belief that for Harden it’s between Houston and Philly. I don’t think Harden makes any sense for the Suns, I don’t think Chris Paul makes any sense for Philly.”

Fischer added he thinks Paul will ultimately be waived not traded. That would give CP3 more say in who he signs with. He could even re-sign with the Suns for less money in what might amount to an NFL-style restructuring. You know dude just wants to win a chip.

Also, this two-team race idea echoes what Shams Charania has said, that Harden is torn between Houston and Philly.

Tobias Harris for ‘Buddy Hield and stuff?’ Tyrese Maxey untouchable?

Indiana Pacers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Fischer reveals that he’s heard the Bulls have started proactively calling teams asking if they’d like to make an offer for Chicago’s high-flying guard Zach LaVine.

And then he brushes off the idea that Philly could be players here:

“The vibes in Philly are torn....If [Harden] walks out the door...I don’t think [the Sixers] are going to be able to do anything more than [using Tobias Harris to go get someone else]. Like I don’t think they’re going to be attaching [Tyrese] Maxey and like a 2030 first-round pick to go do [something super aggressive].”

OK, so Maxey probably isn’t going anywhere regardless of Harden’s decision.

Fischer brings up the idea of the Indiana Pacers potentially trading for Tobias Harris:

“I could see a team like Indiana, that’s young and has space, and would think about bringing... [Harris] in.... but that’s not necessarily bringing anything back for Philly that’s Buddy Hield and stuff, I don’t know if that really moves the Sixers’ ceiling that much further when Tobias has been...someone super respected by everyone in that organization.... I don’t think the Sixers are gonna panic and try and go sign him for Fred VanVleet or try and go move [Tyrese] Maxey for [Zach] LaVine...If Harden does walk, I think they got a couple of things up their sleeves that they’re thinking about but it’s not like the sky is gonna be falling and they’re gonna try to go star hunting like Daryl [Morey] always does....”

So again, Fischer makes it sound like the Sixers aren’t itching to make massive overhauls, no matter what Harden does. But certainly (as you already suspected) Harris is more likely to be moved than Maxey.

Wait, did he say Daryl Morey is NOT star-hunting? What’s happening? CJ McCollum, President of the NBPA, what has this new CBA you helped negotiate done to the world’s natural order?

Devine builds on the theme that the 76ers wouldn’t trade Maxey for Zach LaVine (now one year into the $215M deal he signed last summer):

“...and to your point when you say like ‘I don’t think they’re gonna put [Maxey] in a deal for Zach LaVine,’ I don’t know that anybody outside the MVP ballot that Philly would put Tyrese Maxey in a deal for... They kind of view that as sky’s the limit.”

High praise. I know Devine didn’t mean this literally, but here was your 2023 MVP voting ballot, in case you’re curious.

Probably a couple of names below they wouldn’t trade Maxey for either:

‘Kyrie Irving over me!?’

Philadelphia 76ers v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

Devine asks Fischer if Harden were to bolt, would the Sixers make a big Tobias Harris, future first, Jaden Springer type of offer for Bradley Beal?

Fischer doesn’t answer it directly — he basically hinted it was farfetched earlier (again go listen).

Instead the author of a fun Sixers-oriented read ‘Built to Lose: how the NBA’s tanking era changed the league forever’ pivots to addressing a potential Kyrie Irving for Tobias Harris sign-and-trade.

Say whaa now??? I remember that idea....

Per Fischer, on this wild scenario:

“I think Dallas has been a team that’s checked in on Tobias in the past but .... that would also take Kyrie like changing course and wanting to go to Philly and Philly wanting him, but by all accounts Kyrie wants to go back to Dallas....

Marc Stein of Substack, has basically suggested the same thing, that Dallas has the inside track to retain Irving.

My opinion: the Sixers should trade for Beal or Kyrie Irving if the cost in rotation players is basically Tobias Harris.

Fischer continues:

“I just think with Nick Nurse coming into the fold, no matter what happens with Harden, there is a hope in Philly that there can be a change in approach on offense maybe on defense too, to try to maximize what Embiid’s ceiling can be, what Maxey’s ceiling can be next to him.”

Hope all you want. But they’re gonna need more help too.

FA updates: Paul Reed, Georges Niang, Jalen McDaniels, but no word on Shake Milton

Portland Trail Blazers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Paul Reed is the free agent fans want the team to retain the most. So where do B-Ball and the other non-Harden FA’s stand?

Remember, still unsigned are RFA Paul Reed (they have matching rights), and UFA Georges Niang (they do have Early Bird Rights). Both of those reserves were in the playoff rotation.

Then there’s Jalen McDaniels (acquired in the Matisse Thybulle deal) and Shake Milton, both unrestricted free agents, who were out of Doc Rivers’ final rotation.

Per Fischer:

“I think Philly wants to bring back Paul Reed too, ... they definitely have interest, to my knowledge, in bringing back Georges Niang and Jalen McDaniels depending on the price tags for both those guys....those guys are definitely in that ballpark of like “are we getting the mid level or are we getting a lot less?” but I don’t think the Sixers are doing rocket science right now.”

And no, Devine did not miss the chance to point out that Rocket double entendre.

Notable here, whether it was an oversight or not, Fischer did not mention Shake Milton.

Feel free to guess that Shake might be the most likely of the FA bunch to change teams. I certainly wouldn’t try to talk you out of that theory, with both Maxey and Harden potentially in front of him.

As for the others, one mid-level (the nontax payer) is projected to be $12.2M, and the other mid-level (the taxpayer) $5M. Fischer didn’t specify which size he meant. But typically, contenders (who need role players like Niang or McDaniels) have less cash to work with. You’d have to figure if either got offered a full $12.2M from a rival, that should be enough to price Morey out.

And that’s your round-up in a nutshell.

To summarize, it sounds like:

  • The Suns really aren’t much of a player in the Harden sweepstakes therefore it’s shaping up as a two-horse race between Houston and Philadelphia for Beard’s services and, yes, it’s still up in the air.
  • Maxey sounds as close to untouchable as any rising star in the NBA.
  • Tobias Harris may be on the move, with Indiana as a possible landing spot.
  • The Sixers are unlikely to add a name like Beal, LaVine or Fred VanVleet, regardless of what Harden does.
  • the new CBA is a very, very big deal to owners and league execs, and they’re terrified of the new restrictions; that kind of thing limits Beal or LaVine’s potential market.
  • The Sixers have a lot of hope that Nurse can be a big-time upgrade and that Maxey can develop into one of the top players in the game alongside an optimized version of Joel, the league’s reigning MVP.
  • They’d love to retain a few of their own non-Harden FAs, like Reed, Niang, McDaniels so long as the price is right.

If that’s indeed where the 76ers heads are at, might they be a tad overconfident in a trio of Harden, Maxey and Embiid, even with a major upgrade at coach? Might they be overconfident in Maxey if Harden walks?

Is this one of those situations where they should look to zig and spend more money when the rest of the league is zagging in a fearful response to a punishing new CBA? I don’t know enough about the aprons and “frozen picks” to say for sure.

Maybe some of that question would depend on how much Josh Harris and ownership are willing to pony up over the next four-plus years, not only to keep this group together but to potentially add to it as well.

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