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Rumors: Sixers beat wars!? Morey’s tweet, & Tobias, FVV, Harden, Lillard latest

Tobias Harris trade market updates have been hard to keep up with. It even has the Sixers beat in a scoop feud prompting Daryl Morey to tweet! James Harden to stay or go? Plus Dame Lillard update.

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Philadelphia 76ers v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Another day, another deluge of rumors. Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and their new head coach Nick Nurse know they’ll be here.

But it’s been... let’s just say a more eventful few weeks for a few other names.

And of course, there is the Damian Lillard will-he-stay-or-go jawn, which could have some huge implications for the Sixers’ place in the Eastern Conference pecking order. Dame is often linked to the Miami Heat, so we’d love for him to remain loyal and stay with the Portland Trailblazers.

Let’s dive in.

James Harden

With James Harden, there is always another update about which way he, the Houston Rockets or the Sixers might be leaning in terms of The Beard’s next contract.

The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported that Harden staying in Philly, despite picking up steam lately, isn’t totally settled yet.

Per Amick:

“Only Harden and his inner circle truly know which way he is leaning, but a source close to him reconfirmed that the Rockets remain a serious possibility. And yes, as you may have wondered, that’s still the case with Houston deciding to add guard Amen Thompson out of the Overtime Elite program with the fourth pick (they added forward Cam Whitmore out of Villanova at No. 20 as well).”

Our Erin Grugan provided some insightful analysis on that one venturing “no doubt Harden and his inner circle have been loving, if not fueling the speculation surrounding the star guard as it continues to develop this offseason.”

But we also received some intel confirming prior reports that it’s sounding more and more as if Harden is in fact leaning towards staying, despite the Sixers perhaps not offering a full, four-year max contract.

From #thisleague UNCUT with Marc Stein (Substack) and Chris Haynes (Bleacher Report, and TNT).

Per Haynes and Stein on Harden, released June 26th:

Haynes: “This is a hard one for me to gauge right now ’cause it keeps changing.... right now if you’re asking me — I’m saying it sounds like he’s staying in Philly. It sounds like that’s what’s going to happen....Philly is what I’m hearing right now. I’m not real confident in that ’cause I think things could change but if you’re asking me right now that’s what I would say.”

Stein: “Yeah ’cause it sounds like the max is not on on the table in either case....the latest thing I heard was that [Harden] came out of his meeting with Nick Nurse the new Philly coach intrigued by what nick nurse had to say....I think if you polled 30 front offices more than not would say that they expect James harden to stay in Philly but yeah, could be a long week, could be some changes there....”

So both Haynes and Stein lend voice to the idea Philadelphia has the edge in this apparent bidding and/or leverage war. But it’s still noteworthy that nobody is saying this is a done deal.

More from Stein’s newsletter on both sides of the Philadelphia-Houston equation:

“More and more as the official start of free agency draws near on Friday at 6 PM ET, league sources say they see Toronto’s Fred VanVleet and Memphis’ Dillon Brooks at the top of a Rockets wish list widely thought to be headlined by former Rockets All-Star James Harden.

Amid a steady drumbeat of chatter over the past week or two that the Philadelphia 76ers have gained momentum in their quest to convince Harden, at 33, to bypass a return to his adopted home of Houston and stick with the contending Sixers on a two- or three-year deal, there have been equally compelling signals that the Rockets will be strong contenders to sign both VanVleet and Brooks.”

So if the Rockets made big bids at the start of free agency on VanVleet and Brooks, it would help the Sixers accomplish their goal of retaining Harden at a team-friendly price. (Of course, it would be even better if the Rockets pilfered Brook Lopez from Milwaukee, but we won’t be too greedy.)

We also continue to hear reports that Nick Nurse had some great meetings with Joel Embiid and James Harden, and that he’s excited to keep coaching Tobias Harris. Take that for what it’s worth.

Tobias Harris updates, and local beat wars!?

Tobias Harris’ name was in the news over the weekend when his agent-father, Torrel Harris, hopped on a podcast and suggested the Sixers have been criminally underutilizing the “scoring assassin.” Then we got a several reports about his trade market (or lack thereof) which left us wondering.

Regarding that Tobias trade subject, we even have some beat wars! Okay, wars is a dramatic word, but we have some local reports that appear to conflict with each other. Even Daryl Morey was on Twitter, hinting a key name on the beat may have missed on a scoop or two.

We read from Keith Pompey over the weekend that six teams have made inquiries for Harris regarding a trade.

By now, you’ve no doubt seen the headlines and jokes sprung from Pompey’s reporting:

But some fans questioned the Inquirer’s reporting.

Here’s when Daryl Morey chimed in on Twitter, implying that the Pompey-Harris trade reports were a bit suss, in response to a @HoopsReference tweet.

Pompey cited sources that claimed the Suns wanted to offload Deandre Ayton but the Sixers were like, unwilling to go look for a third team to strike a deal with.

Pompey continued, the part that has everyone cracking jokes:

“Last week, sources told The Inquirer the Sixers are overvaluing Harris and asking for “outrageous packages in return.” That goes in line with what a source said the Sixers told the Cavs what it would take days before the draft: A package of Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, and a draft pick.

And at another point a source claimed “a source said Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey “isn’t negotiating in good faith....”

Then Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice published a column Monday, which appeared to push back on Pompey’s version of events.

Popcorn time, ready?

Neubeck writes:

“The first red flag [in Pompey’s reporting] that should have been thought of before publishing is the suggestion that Phoenix was actively looking to trade for Harris specifically, but when it came to finding a third team, their position was basically “figure it out yourselves” to the Sixers. Not sure the logic holds up on that one....

So let’s get into the main problem of this reporting — that [Harris-Allen-Mobley trade] is straight-up illegal, and would be illegal under either version of the collective bargaining agreement, new or old....

In any case, it is not my understanding that the Sixers go around hoping to make and propose illegal trades all of the time, but your mileage may vary.

This is also not the first time Pompey (or a source of Pompey’s, I suppose) has played up the Sixers’ bargaining position in trade talks.”

You know what that last line alludes to, the infamous Ben Simmons trade stalemate. The implication here is that Pompey once contributed to the idea that Morey wasn’t negotiating in good faith back in 2021-2022 either... even though the team President wound up landing a player few ever thought he would land, in Harden.

Anyway, fans didn’t miss the chance to watch a couple of prominent members of the beat contradict each other.

Phoenix Suns Insider, John Gambadoro, of 98.7 FM Phoenix, also appeared to take issue with Pompey’s reporting — as it pertained to Deandre Ayton.

By that point, Pompey was basically getting it from all sides.

So Pompey dropped another post, Monday afternoon:

Plenty of drama if you’re looking for it. There’s just enough conflicting information out there that many of us are squinting. It’s that time of year.

Based on Morey’s Charlie Brown gag, my read on it is that he saw how many folks were trolling the 76ers organization for not “negotiating in good faith,” on Harris and just didn’t feel like getting dragged for a report that may not be true at all telling a full and accurate picture; especially after dealing with it during the Simmons thing too.

Next up...

Damian Lillard wants to stay but he wants to win, and he’s loyal but he’s...(face plants)

Over the course of the day Monday, the Dame reports came fast and furious.

From the same Amick report linked above, we have more smoke to this Dame to the Heat fire:

“Lillard indeed has serious interest in joining the Heat, who would surely love to pair him with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. If it reaches this point — and there’s still an ‘if’ here considering all the times Lillard chose not to ask out before — Lillard’s wishes would matter a great deal because of the enormity of his contract.”

If Miami does get Dame... then well... yeah. That would be rough.

So Dame would meet with the team to discuss his future. Remember, he’s not happy that they did not trade their no. 3 pick. Per

“The relationship between Lillard and the Trail Blazers, according to sources, remains on solid ground but the team’s inability to flip the No. 3 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft into a veteran star didn’t sit well with the franchise point guard.”

With that in mind, I guess they met and had a sit-down.

How did that meeting go?

Well, I don’t really know what to make of it.

If the Miami Heat landed Dame, they would absolutely be stacked. A package of Tyler Herro, and some combination of names like (last year’s first-round pick) Nikola Jović, this year’s no. 18 overall pick, Jaime Jaquez Jr., and couple of future first-rounders might be enough; especially if the Blazers wanted to make Dame D.O.L.L.A. happy, sending him someplace he could compete.

If I were a Blazers fan, I’d certainly prefer to get a few of those post-Kevin Durant Phoenix picks the Brooklyn Nets own. It would be hard to sell myself on my team adding future picks from a franchise like Miami, which seems to always replenish its star-hunting quiver every few seasons.

Will the Blazers sell Dame on staying? Is this idea that they want to keep him just leverage for trade talks set for next week? Can they get a guy like Pascal Siakam to keep him content in town? Does he just need the Blazers to say we want to trade you since he can’t bring himself to ask out?

Is he slyly managing to Brett Farve-Aaron Rodgers this thing, slowly frustrating everyone until they’d all rather he just rip the Rip City Band-Aid off?

I don’t know. I just don’t want him to go to a super-stacked team. Giving Erik Spoelstra Lillard, Bam Adebayo, and Jimmy Butler would be kind of unfair. Maybe the Timberwolves would just give them Rudy Gobert and that would do the trick.

Come back to Liberty Ballers later, we’ll have more updates for you sickos later.

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