It's been a while since we last saw James Harden dominate regularly. His best years look far behind him, yet he's so good that he'll still get a huge contract in the offseason. Whether it's with the Philadelphia 76ers or not.
The Sixers traded away two key core pieces in Seth Curry and Andre Drummond plus Ben Simmons to land Harden. But thus far, he's been MIA more often than not and has looked like a shell of himself.
Even so, the Miami Heat could reignite their interest in acquiring his services, as they were reportedly keeping tabs on him when he first demanded a trade away from the Houston Rockets.
NBA Trade Rumors: Miami Heat Could Land James Harden
"Back in October 2020 when Harden was still a member of the Houston Rockets, there were three teams he had interest in joining," wrote Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report.
"While he's since been traded to two of them (the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers), Harden also spoke to his inner circle about the Miami Heat, according to Bleacher Report's Farbod Esnaashari. Heat star Jimmy Butler had even approved a potential trade at the time,"Swartz added. "As unlikely as it is that Harden leaves Philly now, Miami, the No. 1 seed in the East, should still be on the table."
Sixers May Not Want To Keep Harden For The Long Run
However, the Sixers seem to be in the driver's seat to keep Harden, and not just because of Daryl Morey. For that, the only way they could lose him is if they refuse to offer him a long-term deal this summer:
"This scenario likely only comes to fruition if the Sixers don't want to give Harden a full five-year max deal, especially with Joel Embiid's four-year, $196 million supermax extension kicking in by 2023-24," Swartz explained. "Tyrese Maxey is heading toward his own massive payday while Tobias Harris still has two years and roughly $77 million left on his deal."
Landing Harden Would Come At A Steep Price
Moreover, it's also worth noting that getting the deal done would come at a steep price for Pat Riley, and he may not want to overpay for an aging player who's entering the backend of his career:
"A sign-and-trade would prove costly for Miami, however," wrote Swartz. "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."
"That may be too much even for a star-driven franchise like the Heat, especially with Harden showing signs of slowing down now at age 32. Philly is likely to remain Harden's home for the foreseeable future, although Miami is a dark-horse destination should financial issues arise," the report concluded.
Then again, we've seen crazier things happen.