5 James Harden trades that keep 76ers in title contention

Philadelphia 76ers, James Harden. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia 76ers, James Harden. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Philadelphia 76ers were expected to have a difficult task in re-signing James Harden this offseason. Fans heard the Houston rumors for months, and it was never clear that Philly could keep the ten-time All-Star.

Shams Charania broke the news (subscription required) that Harden is opting in as the two sides work on a trade on Thursday afternoon. The 6’5 guard will make $35.6 million next season and will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2024. If he gets dealt, his new team will be his fourth in the last four years, and Harden will be on an expiring deal.

Opting in allows Daryl Morey to trade him and get something in return, but what? Can the 76ers get serious value back? They appear hamstrung, but that has not stopped Morey in the past.

James Harden trades that keep the 76ers in title contention

5. Harden goes back to Houston

James Harden played nine seasons with the Rockets, and it is his second home. Fans have heard about his desire to return all season. Could the 76ers trade him back to Houston? The young Rockets hired Ime Udoka and are eager to get back into contention. What would they be willing to give up to get Harden?

It would be surprising if the Rockets gave up any of their recent top draft choices, but the Sixers may be able to convince them to part with a couple of picks. Philadelphia could turn those selections into help for Joel Embiid, and they would likely target someone like Kevin Porter Jr. in return. KPJ could be the 76ers’ sixth man, and it would open up a larger role for Tyrese Maxey.

This is not the most exciting trade for the Philadelphia 76ers, but it gives Morey and the front office flexibility to make additional moves to bolster their roster around Joel Embiid.