Grade the Trade: 76ers trade James Harden in wild mock three-team blockbuster

Philadelphia 76ers, James Harden. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia 76ers, James Harden. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Zach LaVine, Joel Embiid – Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

How can the 76ers benefit from this deal?

Put simply, this is a trade that makes a ton of sense for Philadelphia, at least from a sustainability standpoint. James Harden is already a big flight risk to carry for the 76ers, and while the team may ultimately bear that danger willingly to open cap space, getting an opportunity to snag an All-Star in his prime for an expiring contract and a first-rounder deserves a conscientious look from the Sixers brass.

Theoretically, the 76ers will be getting Zach LaVine for four more seasons (a player option in his final year). Considering the ample roster control, even a first-rounder all the way out to 2029 suddenly becomes less valuable, especially if Joel Embiid remains at the crux of the franchise.

Moving on to the on-court allure of this deal, LaVine is a bona fide three-level scorer whose shooting efficiency would be very welcome on a team that has had recurring problems as regards offensive variety, especially in the clutch. Despite his high volume, the 28-year-old has canned 48.9 percent of his shots, including 39.4 percent of his three-point tries over the last three campaigns.

LaVine’s bread-and-butter is his athleticism, but he has shown uncanny skill and efficiency as a shot-creator that his game should still age quite well even if his bounce wanes over the duration of his contract. Overall, given what the 76ers are giving up and acquiring, this trade makes a lot of sense for a franchise itching to make it to the biggest stage.