The Philadelphia 76ers are no strangers to drama, but cannot let this one get out of hand. James Harden has requested a trade and refused to play for Daryl Morey again. Things are only getting worse from here as both sides dig in. The Sixers cannot afford to let things with Harden impact Joel Embiid.
The reigning MVP is the key to Philadelphia finally breaking through and advancing beyond the second round of the playoffs. They have been in the postseason six straight years, but have one first-round exit and five in the conference semifinals to show for it. Can they keep Embiid happy and put the right team around him to win it all? If not, a trade request is likely and the bidding could get wild.
Changes are coming for Morey and the 76ers. Tobias Harris and James Harden are two of eight Sixers entering the final year of their contracts. Can they build a title contender around Embiid? It will take adding another star and even more improvements over the next half-decade.
Philadelphia 76ers dream starting lineup 5 years from now
PG: Cade Cunningham
The 76ers need someone to run their offense. Tyrese Maxey will improve, but he does not profile as a lead ball-handler and playmaker. It is why the Sixers added James Harden and will be searching for another star point guard. Cade Cunningham would be the ideal fit.
The former number-one overall pick becomes a restricted free agent if he does not sign an extension before 2025. He will be entering the final year of his second contract in 2028. It is the prime zone to be traded, and the 76ers jump at the chance if Cunningham wants out to Detroit.
The 22-year-old has shown flashes in his first two seasons. He is a 6’6 point guard who could average 25 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists per game in his prime. Cunningham will be at his peak and ready to contend in 2028. The Philadelphia 76ers would have a dynamic backcourt duo and remain one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.