Report: Phoenix is a serious threat to steal a star from another contender

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) with forward Kevin Durant (35) against the Los Angeles Clippers Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) with forward Kevin Durant (35) against the Los Angeles Clippers Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Fans of the Philadelphia 76ers are likely anxiously waiting for free agency to begin to see whether star James Harden will stay or leave. Since December, the Houston Rockets have been believed to be the 76ers’ biggest threat to stealing Harden. Now, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, that is no longer the case.

The Phoenix Suns, who have already made waves in their offseason by looking to move on from future Hall of Famer Chris Paul, are seen as a potential landing spot for Harden. The Suns’ decision not to waive Paul outright could be an indication of their pursuit of Harden.

While Harden can’t sign with a team prior to July 1st and the Suns have to decide what to do with Paul by June 28th, they could possibly be moved for one another. If the Suns have reason to believe that Harden and the Sixers would be open to a sign-and-trade this summer, then they could hold onto Paul with the goal of trading him to Philadelphia.

James Harden would give the Phoenix a big three.

Harden would give the Suns a third star while simultaneously allowing them to upgrade at point guard with Paul declining. Better yet, they would be able to keep Deandre Ayton out of the deal, giving new coach Frank Vogel a chance to work with him and hopefully salvage his value.

From Philadelphia’s perspective, given the risk of losing Harden for nothing, they may agree to take Paul back as a stop-gap option at point guard, in hopes of not taking too much of a step back. It’s far from perfect, but Paul could help the Sixers compete in the short term while working to reshape their roster around Joel Embiid in the long term.

On the other hand, the Rockets can sign Harden outright, and while that doesn’t necessarily give them an advantage over the Suns, it could if the Sixers decide not to help them in a sign-and-trade. That would hurt Philadelphia, given that they would still lose him, but GM Darryl Morey may not want to help Harden form a high-powered big three out west.

Next. NBA Trades: 3 deals for the Phoenix Suns to land a third star. dark

Overall, the Suns appear to have a decent chance of convincing Harden to join them since they have two stars in Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. Be that as it may, the Sixers have made an effort to try and keep him, and they could torpedo any hopes of Harden going to Phoenix.

Meanwhile, the Rockets seem confident that he will return to Houston. With the Sixers, Suns, and Rockets pursuing Harden, he has the ability to dramatically alter three teams’ offseason.