Rumor: James Harden “Open to Relocation” This Offseason
According to Marc Stein, James Harden has been “open” to the idea of opting out of his player option this offseason and signing elsewhere. The former MVP recently brushed off questions about working out an extension in Brooklyn, noting that he wasn’t concerned about the summer and was soley focused on the current season.
Harden’s option is worth $47.4 million dollars for next season, but he could be seeking a long-term deal for security into his mid 30’s, similar to what Chris Paul recently did in Phoenix.
I don’t plan on leaving this organization and the situation that we have… So my focus, honestly, is just focus on the season and then winning the championship. The contract and all that stuff will bear itself out, but my focus is going to be locked on this season.James Harden
Harden Connection to Philadelphia
Stein also reported the Philadelphia 76ers are keeping a close eye on the situation, and would presumably make a play at Harden if he were to become available in the offseason. There have been obvious links between Harden and the 76ers, due to his close relationship with Daryl Morey, and Philadelphia would have the ability to give Harden his desired contract if they dump either Ben Simmons or Tobias Harris’ contracts. In reality, Morey would do anything in his power to make it a possibility for Harden to sign in Philly, and it could be a serious option if Harden opts out.
Before being dealt to Brooklyn last season, Morey had reportedly wanted to make a move for Harden. Unfortunately, the strained relationship with Houston might have hindered their ability to agree to terms on for a trade. If he were to get another shot to acquire Harden, I doubt he lets it pass him by.
Fit on the Court
Beyond the personal connection between Morey and Harden, the fit on the Sixers is perfect. It is hard to find a scorer more gifted than Joel Embiid or Harden. This duo would be a match made in heaven for two stars searching for a championship. They would both benefit from playing with each other, and Harden would be by far the best guard that Embiid has ever played alongside.
If this is the route that the 76ers are looking to take, it could be likely that they try to move Tobias Harris in a corresponding move to find a third player that fits more cohesively. Adding Harden would alleviate the pressure for Embiid to create his own offense all the time, and the role players would benefit from the attention that this pair would garner.
Waiting Until the Offseason
After learning about Simmons’ openness to holding out the entire season, it is become more and more likely that this saga will extend past this season. Daryl Morey and the Sixers’ front office have made it clear they are also comfortable with waiting to make a deal.
It may not be the most ideal way to bridge the gap in the roster, but if these efforts yield a future Hall of Famer like James Harden, then it is absolutely worth it. Joel Embiid also noted he thinks the Sixers have everything they need to win right now and is okay with the way things are being handled. Morey has convinced Embiid of the long view, and if he is on board then they are able to give themselves a great chance of winning in the near future.
Mandatory Credit: Heavy.com