After they got eliminated from title contention, rumors have started to swirl around veteran shooting guard James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers. Harden has a player option in his contract that will allow him to test the free agency market this summer. He may have expressed his desire to return to Philadelphia in the 2022-23 NBA season but with his underwhelming performance in the 2022 NBA Playoffs, it remains a big question mark if the Sixers are willing to give him a max contract extension this summer.
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James Harden Could Leave Sixers For Heat
If they fail to reach an agreement regarding a new contract, there's a possibility for Harden to consider joining other teams in the 2022 NBA free agency. In a recent article, Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report discussed surprised landing spots for the top free agents in the upcoming offseason. For Harden, it's the team that eliminated them in the second round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs - the Miami Heat.
It's hardly surprising that the Heat are considered a potential free agency destination for Harden this summer. When he demanded a trade from the Houston Rockets, Bleacher Report's Farbod Esnaashari revealed that Harden spoke to his inner circle about the Heat, and Jimmy Butler reportedly approved the idea of bringing him to South Beach.
Path To Acquire James Harden
Even if Harden wants to take his talent to Miami this summer, the Heat couldn't sign him outright as a free agent. With the team currently buried deep in the luxury tax hell, the Heat would be needing to engage in a sign-and-trade deal with the Sixers to add Harden to their roster.
"A sign-and-trade would prove costly for Miami, however," Swartz wrote. "Such a deal would likely have to include the contracts of Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson, with Philly understandably asking for sweetener (Tyler Herro?) as well.
Heat Take A Gamble On James Harden
With his age and deteriorating performance, trading for Harden would be a huge gamble for the Heat. However, it's something that they should strongly consider if they fall short of achieving their main goal this season. Harden may have gone through plenty of ups and downs this season, but he's still a very reliable contributor on the offensive end of the floor.
Harden would give the Heat another prolific scorer, an incredible playmaker, and an elite three-point shooter. It would still take time for Harden to build chemistry with Butler and Bam Adebayo but once they mesh well on the court, the Heat could form a formidable "Big Three" in the 2022-23 NBA season.
Why Sixers Would Make The Trade
The proposed blockbuster trade would make sense for the Sixers, especially if they don't believe that Harden deserves a max deal. Instead of losing him as a free agent without getting anything in return, the Sixers would be acquiring a veteran point guard with championship experience in Lowry and a young, energetic sharpshooter in Robinson. Before executing the proposed sign-and-trade deal, the Sixers could try to convince the Heat to include Tyler Herro and some future draft assets in their offer.