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June 11, 2023

NBA trade rumors: Chris Paul for James Harden swap "quietly circulating"

If James Harden wants to walk, can they get someone for him?

The Sixers are limited in their upgrade options this offseason, as they try to make good on whatever time they may have left with MVP Joel Embiid.

Keeping James Harden, or maneuvering some kind of splashy deal — likely moving Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey or both — seem like the only two real options for making a real change on the roster to help the team get better on paper.

However, after news leaked out last week that the Suns and Chris Paul may be parting ways, maybe there's a way for the Sixers to keep Embiid playing alongside a veteran point guard who can get him the ball with elite skill. 

There seems to exist a way for Philly and Phoenix to swap their guards, and according to Yahoo! NBA writer Jake Fischer, the rumor is "quietly circulating."

And then there’s the idea of Phoenix exchanging Paul for James Harden, which has quietly circulated around some league personnel since the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. A reunion between Harden and Durant makes for great fodder, and the bearded point guard could feasibly pick up his 2023-24 player option on the condition Philadelphia trades him to the Suns. You may remember Paul pulled that exact maneuver to join Harden in Houston in 2017. Harden, though, stands to gain quite a bit more financially from either staying pat with the 76ers or returning to the Rockets and their $60-plus million in waiting cap space. [Yahoo! Sports]

Whether or not it's a net improvement for the Sixers is anyone's guess. Paul was injured at times last year — which makes sense, as he is 38-years-old — and saw his scoring go down to 13.9 points per game, the lowest of his career. He did still distribute the ball near his career average in 2022-23 with 8.9 assists per game. 

Philadelphia may not really have a choice if Harden refuses to return to the city. Getting anyone for him who can help might be worth it, and if it is a 12-time All-Star and 9-time All-defensive player, it's not the worst thing that could happen.

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