Would the 76ers accept this trade?
Tyrese Maxey is a talented young player, and the 76ers are right to value him highly. Their strategy to go into next offseason with Joel Embiid, Maxey’s small-cap hold, and open up two max slots is an intriguing one. Yet the reality of that plan is (1) it essentially wastes a season of Embiid’s prime the year after he won league MVP, and (2) the Sixers would be working hard to add a player like Damian Lillard.
Trading Maxey in a Lillard deal makes sense, and it maximizes Embiid’s window; more than that, it communicates that this organization is committed to winning now, keeping Embiid’s eye from wandering. Lillard’s combination of experience, courage, and leadership is exactly what keeps a player like Embiid bought into winning with the team he’s on.
As for James Harden, this move maintains the flexibility to trade Harden or keep him. He could decide playing with Lillard gives him the best chance to win, or he could continue pushing to another team like the LA Clippers, who can send back wings and forwards to fill in between Lillard and Embiid.
In an ideal world, the 76ers would trade James Harden for Damian Lillard, but that’s not realistic; Harden’s value is near an all-time low, and most deals proposed send out Harden and Maxey; this retains Harden for another move. It’s a strong and bold move for Daryl Morey and company, and it could land the team an excellent chance at a title next season.