Who would’ve thought the Sixers would be better off trading James Harden? Hopefully, you can detect sarcasm. Philadelphia finally granted Harden’s trade request on Oct. 31 after he missed the team’s first few games.
The New York Knicks are one of the teams lurking in the shadows, hoping that Joel Embiid will ask for a change of scenery. A few weeks ago, the idea of Embiid requesting a trade at some point in the season, or even in the summer, wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. Now, the Sixers are one of the best teams in the league.
Philadelphia sits atop the Eastern Conference with an 8-1 record. Maxey is averaging 28.6 points, 7.2 assists, and 5.4 rebounds per game, shooting 50.5% from the field and 43.1% from three. His offensive production is second to Embiid, who is averaging 32.4 points per game.
No Harden, no problem.
Tyrese Maxey has been playing at an elite level for Sixers this season
In a 137-126 win over the Pacers on Sunday, Tyrese Maxey dropped a career-high 50 points on 20-of-32 shooting from the field and 7-of-11 shooting from deep.
Daryl Morey and the Sixers were willing to trade James Harden because of Maxey’s hot start to 2023-24, and he’s yet to slow down. With Harden gone, Philadelphia is a much faster team, averaging a league-high 20.1 fast-break points per game.
It’s not as if Maxey is expected to fizzle out as the season progresses. Last season, he averaged 20.3 points per game in 33.6 minutes. With Harden out of the way, it’s his time to shine. Sure, his production could take a dip, but based on how he’s looked, it’d be a surprise if he wasn’t named an All-Star, especially if the Sixers keep winning.
The expectation was that Philadelphia would use its assets from the Harden trade to go after an All-Star before the February deadline. Keeping Embiid happy is most important, but Maxey’s rise proves he’s already a star. The Sixers are winning, and Embiid has Maxey as a teammate. What’s there for him to be upset at?
Of course, it’s a long season, and we’re still at the beginning. A lot can change between now and February, much less between now and the offseason. For now, though, it’s looking as if Joel Embiid should be more than happy to stay in Philadelphia, which is what New York has been rooting against.