It’s been more than a month since James Harden requested a trade from the 76ers, but the future Hall of Famer remains a member of Philadelphia as the first week of August winds down.
Rather than go to free agency, Harden opted into his $35.6 million player option for 2023-24. The 2018 league MVP had hoped that opting in would help the 76ers complete a trade, but there isn’t anything to indicate that such a move is close.
The 76ers are in win-now mode with reigning league MVP Joel Embiid. Presumably, the front office would like a Harden trade to bring them back pieces that can win now. Well, one NBA analyst suggested an enticing Harden trade scenario that would certainly help the 76ers contend in 2023-24.
On a recent edition of the “Game Theory Podcast” (h/t Josh Buckhalter of Heavy.com), The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie proposed the idea of the 76ers trading James Harden to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for six-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan:
“Is there a way to do a DeMar DeRozan to Philly, some assets to Chicago, James Harden to L.A. deal?…Is there a chance Chicago could just want James Harden, and see him on an expiring contract as a better fit than DeMar DeRozan?…I think that it’s the most palatable option.”
Harden has had the better career up to this point, but one can argue that DeRozan would be a better fit alongside Embiid. Harden, as we saw during his tenure in Houston, was simply at his best when the offense ran through him.
DeRozan, who’s the same age as Harden, averaged 24.5 points and 5.1 assists per game for the Bulls last season. With one year remaining on his deal, a one-for-one swap makes sense for both the Bulls and 76ers if they each wish to shake up their respective rosters before the season begins.
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