The James Harden domino effect could be epic in Philly

The James Harden domino effect could be epic in Philly

Philadelphia is a sad basketball city at the moment. Another season has passed where the 76ers can’t get over the hump, and their two stars are unhappy with how the team is being run. Surely, this isn’t the summer anyone in the organization envisioned after Joel Embiid finally broke through to become MVP of the NBA. James Harden went public with his frustrations last week, calling team president Daryl Morey a liar, and Joel Embiid is likely to leave soon, according to reports.

Many around the NBA believe Joel Embiid will ask out sooner rather than later, per @VinceGoodwill. 

Only a few months ago, the Sixers were considered contenders in the eastern conference. Now Harden is pretty much done with the team, whether or not they decide to trade him. That relationship looks beyond repair, at least on Harden’s end. Even if he makes training camp next month, it’s hard to see the two reconciling and making it work. Morey and Harden were once close, it seemed, but after calling another man a liar publicly, it’s hard to return to where the relationship once was.

Then you’ve got to consider Embiid. He’s sitting back watching this soap opera play out as he’s likely about to lose another star player. The team chose to pass on keeping Jimmy Butler around a few years ago in favor of Tobias Harris. Butler still hasn’t forgotten that snub, as evident in the above clip. Then the Ben Simmons situation happened, which can’t entirely be blamed on management, but it’s still part of the franchise’s recent history.

Embiid isn’t getting any younger, and a guy of his size and injury history probably won’t be at peak performance well into his 30s. He will never be a guy who plays all 82 games in a season. But to be fair, some relatively healthy players don’t play 82 games anymore. We’re deep into the load management era. It’s just the way it is. Joel “the troll” still has some good years left in front of him, but the question is how many.

The 76ers have been in win-now mode for almost five years. Now they’re in a position where this Harden situation could cause a domino effect of epic proportions. Embiid sent what many saw as a “warning shot” at the team earlier this summer when he spoke about wanting to win a championship and added that it could be in Philly or elsewhere.

“I just want to win a championship. Whatever it takes. I don’t know where that’s gonna be. Whether it’s in Philly or anywhere else. I just want to have a chance.”

Philly and Embiid parting ways would mean the true death of “the process.” While never being reminded of that era again would be great for many in the city of brotherly love, losing Embiid would be a KO the city might not recover from for some time. The ball really is in Morey’s court here. What he does next could determine whether the Sixers will continue as contenders or fall back into the slums for the next 5-10 years. 

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.