How Giannis' decision affects Sixers' Harden pursuit


Giannis Antetokounmpo answered the NBA's biggest looming question on Tuesday afternoon, announcing he's signed a five-year max extension that'll pay him more than $220 million.

Must be nice.

On top of making Antetokounmpo wildly rich, the deal will impact a number of teams around the league, including your Philadelphia 76ers.

What exactly does the Bucks locking down their franchise guy and perennial MVP candidate have to do with the Sixers' roster-building plans?

It eliminates the biggest name from a number of teams' wish lists, which means they'll turn their sights to other megastars who could be on the move. You know, like that James Harden guy.

Daryl Morey and the Sixers seem to be in one big game of chicken with the Houston Rockets right now, trying to see which side has more leverage as Harden attempts to leave Houston and the Sixers attempt to acquire Harden without trading Ben Simmons. Houston's initial asking price is reportedly... very high.

All reports seem to indicate that the Sixers are the most likely destination for Harden, but they're not the only option.

According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, the disgruntled Rockets star added the Bucks and Heat to his list of preferred trade destinations, should a deal come to fruition. 

The Heat were once considered a top contender for Antetokounmpo's services. With the megastar off the table (for now, at least), Pat Riley & Co. will have to turn their attention elsewhere, and that could start by calling up the Rockets to make an offer that begins with Tyler Herro.


Here's a look at what the Heat might offer the Rockets in a Harden trade, per the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson, who reports that at least a few members of the Heat organization indeed have interest in investigating a Harden trade:

"Miami's best possible hypothetical trade offer would be Herro; two among Precious Achiuwa, Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson; the Heat’s 2025 and 2027 first-round picks (which would require Miami and Oklahoma City agreeing to unlock protection on the Heat’s 2023 first-rounder owed the Thunder) and Olynyk and Iguodala as cap facilitators."

Does that top a Sixers offer involving Ben Simmons? No. But it definitely beats any Sixers offer that doesn't include Simmons, and also beats any possible offer from the Nets.

And now the Heat, without Giannis to cloud their vision, could turn their attention solely to Harden if they'd like to compete for a title again this year in a highly-competitive Eastern Conference.

Which means the Sixers' biggest trade target just got pricier.

Subscribe to the Sixers Talk podcast: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube