After a very disappointing week of NBA news and trades, the Sixers have found themselves in a position where the two best teams in the East made significant offseason additions. The Milwaukee Bucks went out and made the blockbuster trade for Damian Lillard, forming a big three now with Giannis, Middleton, and now Lillard while they were able to retain key role players like Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis. The Boston Celtics for involved in that Lillard trade, by being able to acquire Jrue Holiday, now forming a big four potentially with Jrue, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Kristaps Porzingis. The GM’s for both franchises felt as though their teams were missing pieces to truly be able to compete and win an NBA championship and have made drastic, franchise redefining trades to now be the two highest favorites to win the title, in either conference.

The two teams were intent on improving their rosters dramatically, but it was the Sixers who had a star player demanding a trade and it was the Sixers who needed to get active in the trade market. Now that these deals have taken place, it is hard to see how the Sixers get enough in return for James Harden, to compete with these teams for a right to go to the NBA finals. This leaves the Sixers in a terrible position now because it seems to be a lose-lose scenario now. It would appear the only two options would be to trade Harden for a group of role players or continue to wait the situation out for a better deal and be short an all-star point guard to start the year. Either option leaves the Sixers with a massive talent gap to Boston and Milwaukee this season.

 

There is one alternative however that has not been explored much this offseason, which now seems like it may be the best option for the Sixers going forward, and that is James Harden returning. The Sixers have made other transactions this offseason to improve depth, versatility, and there is optimism that a player like Tyrese Maxey can ascend to an all-star level this season. The Sixers have also signed Nick Nurse as the new head coach, who should be able to utilize the skill sets of this new roster much better than fans have witnessed Doc Rivers do over the years. If the current roster includes a healthy and motivated James Harden, that is the best option to compete in the east and for a championship this season, but it is extremely unlikely.

 

Harden has been very vocal about his feelings toward the Sixers organization after his contract disputes this offseason and has said he would never play for a Daryl Morey run team again. It is almost impossible to envision a scenario where Harden returns to this team and everything goes smoothly, but if there was a way to mend the relationship, that would be the best option for the team to compete for a championship. What would Harden’s demands for a return be? That’s hard to say, but would most likely include Daryl Morey stepping down as GM which is not something the Sixers seem to be entertaining so there really isn’t much hope for this scenario to play out.

 

Hopefully some type of relationship mending can happen or the Sixers can find a much better deal than is currently in the market for Harden, or this may be a wasted year of Joel Embiid’s prime again.

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