Update on a possible Sixers-James Harden trade package originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Sixers are focused on figuring out the undefeated Orlando Magic on Thursday night, but as 2021 approaches, the organization's sights are still likely set on bigger fish.
As in, James Harden-sized fish.
Houston's superstar is extremely on the trade block, and as the Rockets search for the right deal, a few of the league's most plugged-in reporters offered up ideas about what a Sixers-Rockets deal might look like as we stand here on Dec. 31, 2020.
ESPN's Tim McMahon - a deeply-sourced NBA reporter based in Texas), Brian Windhorst (a deeply-sourced NBA reporter), and Marc Spears (a deeply-sourced NBA reporter) all joined up on the Hoop Collective podcast to talk about potential Harden trade packages.
Here's how McMahon, Windhorst, and Spears see the trade talk landscape at the end of the month
"MCMAHON: I just keep coming back to Philly, for a few reasons. Obviously the familiarity between Morey and Harden, and we know how much Morey loves James Harden. And I think the big reason is just the simple fact that it's a lot easier to construct a deal with the 76ers. Obviously Ben Simmons is the centerpiece. They've got some intriguing young players on the roster that I think could fill in for picks. I just think that, of the players that are possibilities, Ben Simmons is clearly the best centerpiece that the Rockets could get in a deal, and I think Philly has the - Tyrese Maxey, [Matisse] Thybulle, Shake Milton. Before we even get to talking about picks, they've got the kind of complimentary young assets that would be of great interest to the Rockets.
"SPEARS: I don't know you can get much better than getting another All-Star for him, and then I'd probably pluck Maxey from them.
"WINDHORST: They're not stopping there, Spears. Thybulle would be in this discussion.
"WINDHORST: And they'd probably want draft picks, too.
"MCMAHON: Absolutely. And look, the 76ers will probably want P.J. Tucker, too. So there's a lot of different ways this deal could grow and expand. I still think that's the most likely partnership...
"SPEARS: Do you think [Houston] could get better than that [offer]?
That's a lot to digest!
And to be clear, these aren't reports, they're hypotheses. But basically it sounds like, in the minds of people who know what they're talking about, a Harden deal right now would look something like this:
HOU receives: Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, 2021 1st Round pick, 2023 1st Round pick
PHI receives: James Harden, PJ Tucker, maybe a draft pick in return
I think that's the best the Sixers can hope for, in terms of what they'll have to give up to trade for Harden.
Maxey seems like a very exciting young player, and Thybulle is an excellent defender, but the fact is the Sixers are going to have to part with assets they like in order to land Harden. Joel Embiid is the team's best player, and he isn't getting younger: he turns 27 in March, and big men aren't exactly long-shelf life assets, particularly big men who are prone to getting banged up like Embiid.
The championship window on the Embiid Sixers is clear - give Embiid a superstar who fits with him in the half-court offense - but it doesn't extend out into infinity, which ultimately could be the driving factor behind Daryl Morey's decision making.
Getting someone like Tucker, a guy who largely operates off the ball (71.1% of his shots last year were catch-and-shoot) and is familiar with Harden would help offset the manpower losses of Maxey and Thybulle, and ease the team into a new offensive identity. I like the idea.
Another intriguing thing to note: if Maxey is indeed part of a deal, he can't be traded until Jan. 2, which is 30 days after Maxey signed his contract. So keep your eyes peeled in the early days of the new year.
We'll see what the Sixers have up their sleeve.