TROUBLE: Thirty days to play Thirty Teams, as Sixers’ future looking uncertain as new season looms

It had such a bright start, but the outcome was so foreseen. We’re talking about a team that was endowed with two proven talents but was unable to capitalize on them when it mattered most.

After failing to win the Kia MVP the previous few seasons, Joel Embiid finally did so this year with a dominant performance that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was deserving of the honour, averaging 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. He helped the Sixers win a majority of their 54 games, which was third-best in the East, on numerous occasions.

And James Harden topped the league in assists, mostly as a result of their improved relationship. Embiid and Harden established themselves as one of the league’s top 1-2 combinations in their first full season together, with the former scoring champion Harden giving up shots to help Embiid win the MVP.

Tyrese Maxey upped his game as well, surpassing Tobias Harris to take the No. 3 spot as the most dependable player. Maxey was occasionally given the ball with the game on the line, demonstrating the Sixers’ high regard for the guard’s ability to make the correct choices and save the day.

But in the Eastern Conference semifinal Game 7 against the Celtics, everything fell apart. Harden and Embiid collectively shot 8 for 29 in a notorious meltdown. It was startling to see how the Sixers lost that game after their two players left the court.

Summer synopsis

What a waste of loyalty. This summer, Harden, Sixers General Manager Daryl Morey, and all of them muttered to themselves similar phrases that meant very different things.

Let’s clarify: Harden felt betrayed for an unknown cause (probably contractual) and wanted a trade, but nothing was resolved as the summer came to a conclusion. He was still a Sixer in name only.

You can clearly hear dominoes crashing in the distance. The Sixers need a co-star to remain in the title race, and if they keep Harden and he pouts or trade him for pennies on the dollar, then all eyes will be on Embiid to see how patient he is. Harden doesn’t have much trade value for a player in slow decline and never seems happy wherever he is.

In a nutshell, it’s a mess. Harden could have opted out of his contract and became a free agent to avoid all of this. However, no NBA team was either able or willing to pay him the $35.6 million that his option year was worth, so he chose to sign on for 2022–23 in order to receive his money. subsequently requested a trade when the Sixers arrived refused to renew the agreement. That was a wise decision.

Unfortunately, despite having a long history dating back to their time living in Houston, he and Morey no longer appear to get along. Speaking of Houston, he reported to camp out of shape a few years ago when the Rockets dragged their feet to move him, and once the season started, he appeared distant and uninterested. It was completely disrespectful, but if he isn’t traded by the opening, such behavior might occur again in Philadelphia.

Given his advancing age, declining performance, poor physical condition, and contract that ends next summer, how much is he worth on the open market and how much of a one-year rental he might be to his next team if he isn’t extended?

Speaking of extensions, the Sixers handed Doc Rivers one but not Paul Reed, the backup center. Unsurprisingly, the Sixers failed to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals once more, and the coach was fired. Nick Nurse (who won a championship with the Raptors in 2019) is the new choice for Philly because he has the necessary personality style to deal with egotistical people.

If Harden gets his wish, Nurse may have one fewer patient to deal with in the upcoming season.

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