For the last three months, the Philadelphia 76ers have been preparing for James Harden’s impending departure. The Sixers even refused to allow Harden to rejoin the team for their season-opening road trip because they were confident enough in their ability to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night. Daryl Morey, being the shrewd front office executive that he is, isn’t backing down from any trade talks, though.
And even without their All-Star starting point guard from the previous campaign, the Sixers almost had enough to overcome the Bucks; they were only defeated in the last minute by some legendary heroics from Damian Lillard. Tyrese Maxey excelled in the new head coach Nick Nurse’s system, scoring in double figures and dishing out eight assists. Three other players, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Kelly Oubre Jr., each scored in double figures.
Therefore, it seems that Daryl Morey and colleagues will be able to maintain their competitiveness even in the absence of James Harden, even if the Sixers’ trade negotiations with the Los Angeles Clippers have been put on hold. And Morey is aware of this; in fact, he even approved of a tweet from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who said that although they’re still one solid component away from being a serious contender for a championship, “they should be patient” and “can’t settle” for a mediocre trade return.
The Sixers and Clippers, two teams with championship hopes, seem to be at a standstill once again, looking into each other’s eyes until one of them blinks. The Sixers may find it challenging to locate a trade partner willing to provide them any kind of value in exchange for a growingly irate Harden, so the Clippers decided to halt trade negotiations with him as well. They know this since they are the only known real bidder for The Beard.
However, Daryl Morey has shown that patience can pay off in the past; after all, the Sixers were able to get James Harden in 2022 by trading for the much-maligned Ben Simmons, who was coming off a disastrous playoffs that destroyed his image. Is Morey flying too close to the sun, or can he capture lightning in a bottle twice?