Rumors began to swirl this week after it was reported that the 76ers were among Kevin Durant’s preferred destinations. Durant and the recently fired James Harden seem to have let bygones be bygones and reportedly want to play together again. Durant mentioned how much he respects Joel Embiid and wants to play with him one day.
So if Durant wants to come to Philadelphia, the Sixers have to honor the deal, right? Well, not so fast.
To acquire Kevin Durant from the Nets, the Sixers would, for all intents and purposes, have to give up their future. A trade for Durant would certainly start with Tyrese Maxey, which would have to be filled with Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and a truckload of first-round picks.
While this trade would certainly elevate the Sixers to the top of the Eastern Conference and make them the favorite to win the NBA Finals, it shortens an already short window to win. Joel Embiid realistically has two or three more seasons of playing at this MVP-caliber level and James Harden is already showing signs of aging, adding the soon-to-be 34-year-old Durant to this depleted core will make them great now, but the future will be ugly.
Many fans debated this week whether it made sense for Durant to part ways with Maxey, but that’s not the question. If it were that simple, the answer would be 100% yes. Not only will the Sixers not part with Maxey, who is showing signs of being a blue-chip player, but they’ll be accepting 5-10 years of misery after this core falls apart.
So ask yourself, is a shot at an NBA title for the next two or three years worth repeating the worst years of the process, only worse? In a 10-game winning season in 2016, the then-franchise had a direction, they were losing, but it was for a reason, because they had draft picks. With all of the Sixers’ picks for the foreseeable future settled for Durant, the franchise will fall apart when that core falls apart.
While it would be amazing to see Durant, Harden and Embiid in a Sixers uniform at the same time, it’s just not smart. Daryl Morey needs to show some restraint here, play it safe and build this team organically.
Photo via Getty Images Dustin Satloff