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Philadelphia 76ers rumors fans want to come true in 2023

Philadelphia 76ers
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference last year, the Philadelphia 76ers are a franchise that constantly has rumors swirling around them. While some of these rumors have gone on to come true, there are more than a fair share that hasn’t. That being said, here are some rumors Sixers fans hope come true in 2023.

James Harden only wants short-term deals

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason, the biggest move made by the Philadelphia 76ers was the re-signing of James Harden. In an effort to help Daryl Morey bolster the roster, the former MVP took a massive pay cut to be on a team fit to make a run at an NBA title. 

Harden eventually signed a two-year, $68 million deal with a player option in year two. Meaning he could be a free agent again this summer if he chooses to. However, it doesn’t seem like the All-Star point guard has any intent on securing one last major payday at this stage of his career.

During a recent episode of ‘The Lowe Post,’ ESPN’s Zach Lowe touched on the possible looming free agency of Harden. It was there he said the Sixers star wants to continue signing one-plus-one deals moving forward. This tactic was used by LeBron James during his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

If this information is accurate, the Sixers should be relieved. While it could allow Harden to leave any time he wants, there is a benefit. Now the organization won’t be forced to offer a five-year max contract to a player on the wrong side of 30. 

Related: NBA trade rumors: Latest buzz on Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers and more

New York Knicks interested in Tobias Harris

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Tobias Harris has been a pillar for the Sixers since joining the team in 2019, but there are some downsides. One of the biggest being his current contract. While he is an All-Star-level player, many consider him to be grossly overpaid. Despite being the team’s fourth option, he is their highest-paid player. 

  • Tobias Harris’ contract in 2023-24: $37.6 million, $39.2M in 2024-25

Harris’ price tag may have deterred possible trades in the past, but there appears to be one suitor for the veteran forward. According to Ian Begley of SNY, the New York Knicks discussed the idea of possibly making a trade for Harris. 

With only two years left on his deal, teams will not be stuck with Harris’ big payout long-term. His consistent play and veteran leadership might entice a team like the Knicks, who are trying to get back to the postseason. 

For the Sixers, the Knicks are an interesting trade partner. They have multiple sizable contracts and interesting depth pieces that could bolster an already deep roster. At worst, New York could help them facilitate a three-team trade to help Morey make upgrades where he sees fit.

Related: NBA Power Rankings: Nikola Jokic and Nuggets closing in on top spot

76ers focusing on smaller moves at trade deadline

Like most contenders, the Sixers will be exploring all avenues to upgrade the roster before the February 9th trade deadline. However, one insider doesn’t believe Morey will make a big splash like he did last year. 

During an episode of ‘Please Don’t Aggregate This,’ Jake Fischer discussed how he expects the Sixers to make smaller moves leading up to the deadline. 

“I think they’ll be looking more on the margins of things where that’s kind of been historically the tinkerings that Morey has done dating to Houston midseason, and Furkan Korkmaz, hardly playing right now for this team, or inconsistent in his usage off the bench, on the hook for another $5.3 million next year, definitely been a name I’ve heard rival teams speculate as someone to be looked to move.”

Given how deep the roster already is, there isn’t much more Morey can do in terms of filling out the rotation. Best case scenario, he consolidates some pieces to address an area of need before the postseason push begins.

Related: Projecting the 2023 NBA All-Star Game starters: See who makes the cut

James Harden eyeing return to Rockets

While James Harden signed a team-friendly extension last summer, things could change this upcoming offseason. If he chooses, the All-Star point guard can enter unrestricted free agency.

With a possible departure on the table, rumors of a possible homecoming for Harden has surfaced. Just before the Sixers’ Christmas Day matchup with the New York Knicks, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski put out a story on the former MVP going back to the Houston Rockets this offseason.

Harden and his inner circle have been openly weighing Houston in recent months, sources said, a remarkable possibility given that he requested and received a trade out of the franchise less than two years ago.

A move like this makes little sense for the Rockets, but it is still something that should be monitored in the coming months. If Harden and Joel Embiid come up short in the postseason again, it could lead to the duo’s time together coming to an abrupt end.

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