The Sixers offseason is still in flux. We know Joel Embiid will be here. We’re extremely confident Tyrese Maxey will be here. Nick Nurse is now at the helm, that’s a rather major upgrade on the sidelines.
But let’s look at what’s less clear. How about some of the latest intel on Tobias Harris and James Harden?
The Tobias Harris market may not be blazing hot
Yes, the the lovable Long Island native might actually be back and play out the final year of his five year contract with the 76ers. It’s at least possible.
“There’s nothing imminent on Harris and the chances of him moving ahead of the draft are low, per a league source. Apparently the Sixers share the view that Harris should be seen as a positive asset and will only look to move the veteran forward in a deal that makes sense for them.”
So perhaps teams are insisting the Sixers include draft capital or enticing young players in order to take on Harris’ $39.2M?
In the past, we thought it might take a pick or two to unload Harris’ once egregious $180M contract dolled out by the pre-Daryl Morey #collaborative disaster of a front office; the same fateful off-season the team helped the Miami Heat steal Jimmy Butler, parting only with Josh Richardson.
It once cost Morey the team’s 2025 first-round pick in order to dump Al Horford into OKC’s cap space. And that $108M contract was a lot less awful than Harris’.
But now that Tobias is on an expiring contract, surely rival teams may start feeling more tempted to onboard the perfect locker room teammate, still perhaps underutilized alongside so much ball-dominant talent?
He’s still a solid player! Last season Harris averaged 14.7 points, 5.7 boards, one steal, and half a block per game, draining triples at a 39 percent clip. Not shabby. He’s always pretty healthy.
Heck, maybe the Sixers really can’t upgrade via trade for the picture of consistency and health.
On the same Fanatic hit, Fischer, a former Liberty Baller, had this to add:
“I don’t think anything is moving right now on a Tobias Harris trade. Right now he’s not a major player on the board around the NBA. Things can change but there’s nothing really to keep an eye on at this moment.”
So are the Sixers really just low key trying to #runitback... just like four years too late?
The Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Indiana Pacers have made inquiries about Tobias Harris’ availability, according to a source. However, another source said the Sixers will only make a deal that would be hard to pass up.https://t.co/viH4g1UKrw via @phillyinquirer— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) June 21, 2023
Keith Pompey of Philadelphia Inquirer with more breadcrumbs on the Harris market:
“While there’s a lot of speculation that he could be dealt, a source said a draft-night deal is unlikely. The Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Indiana Pacers have made inquiries about Harris’ availability, according to a source. However, another source said the Sixers will only make a deal that would be hard to pass up. As a result, teams around the league believe the Sixers are overvaluing Harris and asking for “outrageous packages in return,” sources say....
“Contrary to public belief, the Sixers believe Harris is a solid fit for new coach Nick Nurse, who has had success with versatile forwards. If things don’t work out, the Sixers will have other opportunities to trade Harris before the 2024 trade deadline. If things go well, they could look to re-sign him at a more realistic rate once he becomes a free agent next summer.”
Interesting.... the Pistons have Bojan Bogdanovic. But rumors there are the Pistons view him as a core piece moving forward. The Pacers have Buddy Hield, whose shooting would be welcome. Buddy Buckets and a T.J. McConnell reunion, anyone? I guess the Cavaliers might offer Caris Levert and filler... or something?
"Indiana, with the seventh choice plus picks Nos. 26 and 29, was quite active searching for answers at starting power forward before February’s trade deadline, sources said, and has made no secret about continuing those efforts this summer."— Bryan Toporek (@btoporek) June 6, 2023
Tobias Harris, you are a Pacer? https://t.co/u4rwCpvQop
But Harris also played some terrific ball against Nurse’s Raptors in the 2022 playoffs. Maybe they don’t see a path to improving by trading him at this point. If they did keep him through the year, we could start thinking about Morey bringing Harris back on a team-friendly deal next year so that- nah, never mind... I’m just not there yet.
Remember Morey is the guy who once went on the radio and said “this could (go on for) four years,” regarding the excruciating Ben Simmons trade stalemate.
So hearing from multiple sources now that the Sixers “aren’t operating with urgency when it comes to a potential Tobias Harris trade,” could be a fact, or it could be a mere leverage play.
There may even be some financial reasons to deal Tobi before free agency kicks off.
On a related note, Tobias Harris is likely getting traded in the next two weeks. https://t.co/Y5gKP4FDUG— Bryan Toporek (@btoporek) June 17, 2023
Top rivals not content to stay pat
A few teams already better than Philadelphia certainly do not seem as content to run it back.
The Boston Celtics are keeping a close watch on Kristaps Porzingis, and his decision about whether to opt into his contract (which would help them facilitate a three-team trade on boarding KP, and sending Malcolm Brogdon to the Clippers) or test free agency.
Sides are working under a midnight ET deadline on Porzingis' $36M player option. https://t.co/cCRNZZSTOm— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2023
Concerns raised by the Clippers about Malcolm Brogdon's injury status, league sources say, led to the collapse of the three-team trade expected to send Kristaps Porzingis to Boston before midnight tonight.— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 22, 2023
A direct Wizards/Celtics deal has not been ruled out.
More NBA from me:
Literally every time I go to write a sentence, there’s more Woj or Stein bombs....
The Wizards and Celtics have an hour-plus to fashion a new Porzingis-to-Boston trade or face the threat of KP opting out of next season's $36 million before his midnight deadline and becoming a free agent.— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 22, 2023
The sides, as @KeithSmithNBA says, could also agree to move the deadline. https://t.co/M7AamyUQlX
“They have until midnight [Thursday morning] for Kristaps Porzingis to meet his deadline on his $36 million option — either he opts in and then he goes to Boston — or he could opt out and become a free agent,” Adrian Wojnarowski said on ESPN.
This thing is still very much in flux.
The Miami Heat are desperately star hunting. They put together a reportedly significant, multiple first-round pick package for Bradley Beal and were rebuffed by Washington. Now Beal is a Sun. Could the Sixers have gotten in on that one?
But now the Heat are reportedly a potential landing spot for Damian Lillard. The Portland superstar may finally be obtainable if the Blazers opt to keep their no. 3 pick and #goyouth.
And it’s definitely (at least) sounding like Portland wants to keep their pick (you never know what’s leverage and what’s not).
Could Miami be joining the list of top-end teams not remotely daunted by the new CBA?
For the past few months, all we've heard is how difficult it will be for teams to have three max or near-max guys under the new CBA.— Bryan Toporek (@btoporek) June 21, 2023
It's interesting that both the Suns and Celtics seem to disagree!
Brian Windhorst on an ESPN appearance said “teams who have been dealing with the Blazers have come to the conclusion that the Blazers are going to probably keep that pick.”
With reports from Woj that “Alabama’s Brandon Miller further solidified” himself as the Charlotte Hornets pick at no. 2 on draft night, that would leave Scoot Henderson on the board at no. 3, a player the Blazers might see as a future cornerstone.
Scoot Henderson possibly going third to Portland Trail Blazers: “I’m ready to contribute wherever I go. I think I could help Dame [Lillard]… Whatever play time I get, I’m going to go in there and kill.” pic.twitter.com/rpODWFgciN— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) June 21, 2023
What do you think Chris B. Haynes, of Bleacher Report, would they keep Scoot or trade him for someone like Toronto’s Pascal Siakam? “It doesn’t sound like [they’re gonna trade it] right now,” Haynes said on a recent “What’s Chad Doing?” pod.
So if the Celtics are (maybe) on the brink of adding big-time talent in Porzingis, and the Heat may be inching closer to luring Damian Lillard, (even if they whiff on Dame, there are others as we’ve heard Paul George and OG Anonuby could be on the move too) the Sixers appearing hell bent on #RunningItBack as a best-case scenario is more than a little disappointing; even if we all understand the franchise blew tons of valuable resources (e.g. Jimmy Butler, Mikal Bridges) before Morey even got here.
I’m not so against them running it back. But if the Blazers got Porzingis and kept Lillard it would all look a lot better.
Let’s move onto James Harden
Kelly Iko of The Athletic reported Wednesday “league and team sources are becoming increasingly confident the Rockets will stay the course and select Amen [Thompson] with the fourth overall pick should he be on the board.”
Amen Thompson crushed his workout in Houston, per source, impressing with his potential to be a high-level playmaker and versatile defender.— Jackson Gatlin (@JTGatlin) June 19, 2023
"He's the best athlete anyone has ever seen."
The #Rockets have the No. 4 pick in this year's NBA Draft.
ESPN's Jonathan Givony (@draftexpress) is becoming more enamored with Amen Thompson after watching more of his tape, calling him a "mega, mega talent."— ClutchFans (@clutchfans) June 22, 2023
"If I'm a Houston Rocket fan, I'm very, very excited to have him on my roster." pic.twitter.com/qIaUaCR9Aj
Many of us are gaining confidence (even if some fans don’t want that outcome) that the team will re-sign James Harden, a prospect that felt rather unlikely just a couple of weeks ago.
“I’ve never heard anything about the Sixers giving Harden a full max contract. I’d be very surprised if they signed him long term. I think it’s going to end up being something like 2 years fully guaranteed,” Yahoo Sports Jake Fischer told 97.5 Fanatic on Wednesday. “I’ve definitely gotten the impression around the league that the Rockets are operating like James Harden is not coming back to Houston.”
“The two teams most strongly attached to FVV are the Rockets and 76ers. It would not be incorrect to describe FVV as the James Harden consolation prize at this point. If Harden returns to Houston, the Sixers will look to construct a sign-and-trade for VanVleet.” https://t.co/dMgrGH8QvY— Harrison Grimm (@Harrison_Grimm) June 21, 2023
And this, per Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report:
“Sources close to the situation say Thompson is most likely their best-player-available choice. But some uncertainty surrounds James Harden’s free agency—specifically his price tag. Whatever happens with Harden could impact how Thompson’s fit factors into their decision.”
More and more it sounds like the Blazers and Rockets will keep their respective no. 3 and no. 4 picks. Rumors out of Toronto are that rival execs don’t see Masai Ujiri blowing things up. Toronto potentially parting with Siakam or Anunoby would definitely shake things up on draft night; especially if one landed in Portland (maybe satisfying Dame to stay) and the other in Houston (perhaps luring Harden away).
For now, it seems more and more like Dame could finally be on the move (I’ll understand if you want to remain in not sold until I see it mode) and more and more like Harden will be staying put in Philadelphia.
But maybe everything I just wrote will be totally wrong in another hour. Things move quickly around here.