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The Philadelphia 76ers’ decision to acquire James Harden at the trade deadline was the right move. Considering the Sixers had a disgruntled three-time All-Star who refused to play for them in Ben Simmons, the front office had to make a move to help out Joel Embiid if possible.

Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey made it clear that he’d only move Simmons for an All-Star caliber player. Harden, a ten-time All-Star, was eventually on the table on the day of the deadline. Therefore, Morey made a move and landed a star that was willing to play.

While the Sixers certainly expected more out of Harden, the star guard had shining moments during his very short stint in Philadelphia. As the Sixers lacked a veteran playmaker, Harden was reliable in that department. Unfortunately, his last two playoff performances left a bad taste.

As the Sixers lost Games 5 and 6 to the Miami Heat in the second round, Harden averaged just 12 points and six assists while turning the ball over a total of eight times. In those two games, the Sixers needed Harden to be the best version of himself. Unfortunately, he came up way short.

Now, eliminated from the playoffs, the Sixers have to figure out what the future holds for Harden in Philadelphia. Following the Game 6 loss, Harden once again assured everybody he planned to be with the Sixers for next season, whether it’s by picking up his player option or inking an extension.

The following afternoon, Sixers President of Basketball Ops Daryl Morey echoed the same sentiment as Harden. “That’s the plan is to have him back,” said Morey during his final press conference of the season. “That’s been the plan since the trade. Obviously, we have to work with his representation, and that’ll be between us to figure out how that works.”

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Harden didn’t quite look like the best version of himself over the last two seasons, but the ten-time All-Star seems confident that an entire offseason without rehab will get him back on the right path. And in Morey’s eyes, he’s looking forward to seeing Harden get a full offseason’s worth of work with the intent of playing on the Sixers next year.

“He’s an incredibly talented player,” Morey explained. “Just like Joel, just like Tobias, and I’m excited for Doc and his staff to have a whole offseason to work with the players and come up with the best plan for the roster we’ll have.”

Harden played in just 21 games for the Sixers before the postseason. Going into the playoffs, the veteran didn’t shy away from admitting that the team’s on-court chemistry wasn’t perfected. And Daryl Morey is considering that as the Sixers’ front office works on the next step regarding Harden’s future with the team.

“Once we have [the roster] in place, I’m excited for what the coaching staff can come up with,” Morey finished. “Obviously, because of our circumstances, you know, having it all come together in February makes it very difficult to try and figure out how to unlock all the different skills of the players and how they can work together.”

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.


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