Philadelphia 76ers could pivot from their polarizing playmaker to the Hawks’
The Sixers’ position has been and remains that they want Harden to return next season as they try to remain competitive in an ever-changing Eastern Conference landscape. They tried to appease him last offseason but that goodwill has worn off as the situation has devolved.
Now, their bigger concern could be the status of star center Joel Embiid, the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player.
Embiid has said he will wait out the Sixers’ re-tool, as has guard Tyrese Maxey.
But we have seen similar situations deteriorate before including this offseason where Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard – one of the most loyal players in the league since he entered – finally said enough is enough and demanded a trade with the Hawks division rival, the Miami Heat, his preferred landing spot.
This deal would likely involve a third team with the Hawks receiving different assets. But for clarity’s sake, swapping Harden and Young works financially – a deal for Tobias Harris would have also done the trick.
But Philadelphia has little to include with him to make it worth it for Atlanta.
This is probably the least likely of any deal since the Hawks would be like many other teams around the league in hoping Embiid does grow tired of The Process. It so far has failed to help him reach the Eastern Conference Finals like Young and the Hawks did in the 2020-21 postseason.
It’s even further complicated by Philadelphia’s lack of draft capital which is why a third team that has eyes and a need for Harden would seem more likely if something like this happened.
Again, none of this will happen if Young doesn’t ask for a trade first. The Hawks have not made any moves to suggest they are looking to move on, and Young has spoken glowingly about partnering with Dejounte Murray next season under Quin Snyder.
Young is also under contract through at least the 2025-26 season.
But the Hawks should very well know the makeup of the landscape if they have a pivot anywhere in their list of options.