NBA Trade Rumors: Should the Philadelphia 76ers Target James Harden?

James Harden and Ben Simmons (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
James Harden and Ben Simmons (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

NBA Trade Rumors: Should the Philadelphia 76ers move forward with targeting James Harden at the deadline?

The Brooklyn Nets have had a rocky stretch since the injury of Kevin Durant. Brooklyn has lost their last seven games and the team is dropping down the standings. With this poor level of play leading to a lot of questions around the success of the big three of James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Durant, their bearded superstar is rumored to want a change of scenery.

According to Bleacher Report‘s Jake Fischer, sources close to Harden have said that the superstar has an “interest in exploring other opportunities outside of Brooklyn this summer.” While this may not be a trade request, later reports have linked Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers.

It has become well-known that Ben Simmons and the 76ers are at a stand-off, with the young Australian star not wanting to play for the club and is refusing to participate in any games. While Fischer noted that a move before the deadline involving Simmons is unlikely, there has been speculation that 76ers general manager Daryl Morey could explore a sign-and-trade for Harden during free agency.

However, it seems that the 76ers are going to try and secure Harden this season, with the team reportedly pursuing a James Harden deal before the deadline, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Charania also states that the Nets are open to discussions for trading Harden to round out their team.

The Atheltic article also suggests that the 76ers would need to include players such as Tyrese Maxey, Seth Curry, and Matisse Thybulle in the deal with Ben Simmons. While Harden is a superstar talent, it is questionable whether the team should give up this much for him.

Simmons is definitely a player the team should trade for Harden, considering the turmoil there has been between the star and the 76ers. Simmons does not wish to play there, with his contract serving as a key piece in any potential James Harden deal.

While a duo of James Harden and Joel Embiid would be terrifying to watch, especially in the pick and roll, the 76ers need to consider their supporting cast. A good championship team needs a strong supporting cast, as the struggles of Brooklyn amidst injuries are proving.

This leads to the question as to whether the 76ers should give up all the players that have been rumored. Maxey has been terrific this season and continues to showcase his improved skills at leading the team from the point guard slot.

Maxey would likely be needed to get the deal through, as his emergence, this season has showcased what a special talent he is. However, sources indicate that the 76ers would not include Maxey in any deal, with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark stating that “it’s highly unlikely Sixers would include Tyrese Maxey in a deal. Sixers love him.”

This leaves a deal that could comprise of a combination of players, including Curry and Thybulle. The 76ers have stated in the past that they would not trade Thybulle in a package for Bradley Beal, however, it is uncertain if that viewpoint changes in a discussion for a former MVP.

Thybulle has been an instrumental part of the 76ers defensive game and they would be losing a key piece if they traded him. However, for a player of Harden’s caliber, it could be worth the move. Thybulle has been able to lock down perimeter players such as Steph Curry, leading to the 76ers being able to take star players out of the game.

The 76ers could wait it out until the Free Agency period and try to attract Harden’s interest.  This means they could potentially do a straight swap for Simmons if the Nets have a belief that their superstar talent is not going to return.

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If the 76ers can get Harden for a relative steal now, by all means, they should target him. However, playing the waiting game could be crucial here, as the 76ers do not want to make the same mistake Brooklyn did by ripping apart their depth for one player.