The Philadelphia 76ers stumbled out of the gates but have since regained some momentum. At 7-7 on the young season, Joel Embiid is starting to look like the MVP again and Tyrese Maxey is mounting his first real All-Star campaign. With James Harden out due to injury, a greater burden has fallen on the rest of his teammates — Tobias Harris included.
It is Harris who snuck into the headlines on Friday morning. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Sixers have begun their customary check-ins with front offices around the league; they’re specifically focused on newly signed players who become available to trade on Dec. 15.
Per Shams, one name that has come up with some frequency: Tobias Harris. That’s not surprising, of course, given Harris’ diminished standing in the rotation following Harden’s arrival and Maxey’s ascent. While he has faired well in the mold of a 3-and-D wing, Harris has never felt like the most natural No. 4 option. It could behoove the Sixers to seek out better defenders or increased depth, rather than clinging tightly to Harris’ exorbitant $37.6 million contract.
Sixers rumors suggest Tobias Harris could be on the trade block
Harris gets more and more tradable by the season. His hefty contract expires in 2024. For years Harris has felt borderline unmovable because of the size and length of that deal. Now, we’re approaching the point where Philadelphia can bargain with the angle of freeing up cap space for teams in the near future.
On the basis of talent alone, plenty of teams should have interest in Harris. He is historically very efficient in whichever role he occupies. Since the beginning of the 2019-20 season with Philadelphia, he has hit 37.6 percent of his 3s while averaging 18.5 points and 6.8 rebounds.
That said, two years of that money does still qualify as a hard pill to swallow. Teams probably aren’t bombarding the Sixers’ phone lines in pursuit of Harris. It could take draft assets or young talent (like his good buddy Matisse Thybulle) to genuinely move the needle for other teams.
It certainly wouldn’t hurt the Sixers to get off of Harris’ contract early, but Philadelphia should also be operating with the express purpose of improving the team. Now isn’t the time for money-saving maneuvers that appease ownership. Philly’s title window with Embiid and Harden is not infinite, and despite all his flaws, Harris undeniably elevates the team’s floor and ceiling.
There are plenty of appealing names out there, but how many are truly feasible? Again, Harris’ value on the open market is pretty limited. The likely return would have to feature players who are on lengthier contracts (further complicating Philly’s own financial outlook), older, or simply less talented. A 1-for-2 or 2-for-3 kind of trade could benefit the Sixers — multiple quality role players could exceed the value of Harris’ individual talent for this particular team — but such deals are hard to come by.
Daryl Morey and the Sixers’ front office are known for their due diligence. No team president is hungrier for star power or more invigorated by the prospect of marginal improvement. But, given the nature of Harris’ still-expensive contract and the general difficulty of bringing big-asset trades to fruition, I would not hold my breath when it comes to Tobias Harris. Odds are, he will be with the team past the trade deadline.