Why Philadelphia 76ers Must Look To Move On From James Harden

James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers, NBA Trade Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

The Philadelphia 76ers’ 2021-22 NBA season came to an abrupt end in a 99-90 Game 6 loss to the Miami Heat. After missing Joel Embiid for the first two games of the series, the Sixers showed signs of life upon his return. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t pull off the win to force a Game 7, and will exit the postseason.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Sixers. Their rotation lacks players who are positives on both ends of the floor. Their coaching leaves much to be desired – Doc Rivers unforgivably started DeAndre Jordan in Embiid’s absence.

Some of the blame lies with James Harden, who is simply not at the MVP level he once was. In the decisive final game of the season, Harden was quiet. 11 points, 9 assists, and 4 rebounds is not enough from your $44 million point guard.

James Harden has a player option he will undoubtedly take this offseason, earning him $47 million next season. Though he can still be productive at a star level, the Sixers should consider moving on from him.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Former NBA Great Doesn’t Hold Back About Philadelphia 76ers Superstar James Harden

Saying goodbye to a player of Harden’s caliber would be tough, certainly. He showed flashes of what he could bring in the Sixers’ Game 4 win. In that game, Harden’s 31 points and 9 assists led the team, and he hit several clutch threes to seal the win.

If that’s the James Harden you can reliably get, of course you’d want to keep him. But he may not be that night in and night out anymore. In fact, the flexibility the Sixers would get from moving Harden would potentially be more valuable than having the player himself.

As previously mentioned, the Philadelphia 76ers’ rotation lacks players who are positives on both ends. Danny Green can still be a lethal shooter at times, but he suffered a torn ACL and who knows what his future holds. Matisse Thybulle, a generational defender, might as well not be there on the offensive end. Georges Niang is too slow to be an effective defender.

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The Sixers essentially have six players who can reliably play on a playoff floor – Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, Danny Green, and Paul Reed. The lack of depth is glaring, and despite the talent of the top-end guys, it’s a death sentence deep in the playoffs.

A move for Harden would be tough – especially if he’s making $47 million next season. Few teams could assemble legal trade packages for Harden, and even fewer could assemble enticing ones. Still, the Sixers should pursue a deal. In an ideal world, should they turn Harden into 3 productive players, their playoff rotation would be closer to filled-out. Meanwhile, Maxey and Embiid still provide a 1-2 punch of top-end talent that can hang with the league’s elite.

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Moving Harden so soon after acquiring him would be tough to swallow. With a player of Embiid’s caliber, though, and a championship window that shrinks with his age, being active in the offseason may be just what the Philadelphia 76ers need to do.