Shams Bomb: 76ers to pursue James Harden prior to NBA Trade Deadline on Thursday
The last couple weeks leading up to February 10th have suggested a very tame trade deadline for the 76ers. Daryl Morey had made it a point to double down on his stance with Ben Simmons, and multiple suitors seemingly dropped out of the race due to the price tag. Now, Shams reported today that the 76ers could pursue James Harden ahead of Thursday’s deadline.
Shams stated that the 76ers are looking to acquire James Harden prior to the NBA trade deadline and that the Nets are reportedly open to a deal. This comes as a huge shock with Harden’s camp reportedly doubling down on playing the season out with the Nets just a couple of weeks ago.
The Nets are reportedly open to the idea of formulating a more well-rounded roster around Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving versus the weak supporting cast around their current big three. With Joe Harris still nowhere near a return to action and Blake Griffin becoming unplayable, the Nets have had to turn to their younger guys to step up.
Kevin Durant is still out due to an MCL sprain and Brooklyn has dropped their last six games. While Brooklyn’s front office still holds confidence in their championship-caliber roster, the injuries and losing streaks could incentivize a deal for Simmons.
The Shams report also details how some of the Nets front office and coaching hold growing concerns over the clash of playstyles with Harden. James carries a very heavy ball-handling centric personal playstyle that some in the organization believe clashes with the more “free-flowing” offensive style of Durant and Irving.
Couple that with the fact that James Harden’s numbers are down to levels only seen in his first few seasons in the league and you begin to see why Brooklyn would be open to a swap. Harden’s 22.5 point per game is the lowest total he’s held since coming off the bench with the Thunder, and his 41.4 field-goal percentage is only rivaled by his rookie campaign.
Not to mention he’s currently battling a hamstring injury that will uniquely sideline him for the Nets game tonight as this story breaks.
Regardless of his poor shooting splits halfway through the season, there’s no denying James Harden moves the needle for the 76ers while fitting that “star player” criteria for Daryl Morey in a Simmons deal. Harden was just recently named to his 10th consecutive All-Star game, and continues to average double-digit assists for the third season in a row. The image of an Embiid-Harden pick and roll in Wells Fargo Center is certainly something every 76ers fan is picturing since the Harden to Philly rumors began.
Now what makes a deal with the Nets for Simmons look much different than any other suitor is the pieces outside of Simmons. When it comes to talks with the Hawks, T-Wolves, and Kings the 76ers were likely looking to only ship off Simmons and maybe one of Maxey or Thybulle.
Brooklyn is a team in a much different position, looking to compete for a championship now and round out a more solid roster around Durant and Kyrie. That’s why Shams states in his piece Brooklyn would want role players from the 76ers along with Simmons in a deal.
Guys like Seth Curry are mentioned along with the obvious Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle. All three can certainly contribute right out the gate for Brooklyn, but it is interesting to see Curry mentioned in a deal with the 76ers. For months it has been all about linking Thybulle and Maxey with a potential Simmons package.
There is an obvious link between Morey and Harden from their time in Houston, but it is important to keep in mind this is simply a door opening. A deal for James Harden would ask a very big haul, one that the 76ers front office may not want to pay up. Morey does have a big track record for star-hunting, and a deal like this has his MO written all over it.
The big takeaway from this is that there’s another player in the Simmons sweepstakes, and with only six days to the deadline the stoves are only going to get hotter. With other teams like the Hawks and T-Wolves continuing talks with the Sixers, reports and rumors are going to continue to swirl.
At this point I don’t know what to expect from Morey, but this trade deadline is shaping up to be just as crazy as advertised. As always we’ll have all the news here at The Liberty Line around the 76ers trade deadline that’s just six days away.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Nwachukwu