Morey, 76ers reportedly seeking draft picks more than players for Harden

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“If we do look at a trade, it will be for one of two things. Either a player who helps us be right there like we were last year. Up 3-2 on one of the best teams in the East, the Celtics… Or we are going to do it where we get enough draft picks so we can turn those into a player who can be a running mate with Joel [Embiid]. If we don’t get either a very good player or something we can turn into a very good player, then we will just not do it.”

Philadelphia president Daryl Morey has been clear about what he wants back in a trade for James Harden, but he would prefer racking up draft picks, Vincent Goodwill reported at Yahoo Sports.

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League sources told Yahoo Sports contrary to popular belief, Morey isn’t stuck on receiving Clippers guard Terance Mann back in a Harden deal, but is coveting future first-round draft picks with the so-called “Seven Year Rule” in effect.

Why focus on picks over players? Joel Embiid leaving insurance.

However, another preseason distraction could turn commissioner Adam Silver into a shade of copper, and send the reigning MVP over the edge and into Morey’s office to ask out.

To be clear, Joel Embiid has not asked for a trade or done anything to suggest he is close to that step (he did remove “Philadelphia” from some social media bios, but that feels more like Troll Joel than anything else). It’s no secret that Embiid is at or near the top of every team’s “superstars who could force a trade” list, other teams are absolutely watching this closely. Embiid is 30 this season and knows his window of playing at an MVP level has only so many more years.

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Could Morey prefer a total teardown and rebuild to having the 76ers slowly erode from contender status? Very likely. If for no other reason than job security — a rebuild buys a GM a few years on the job to see the plan through, he can’t be blamed for the losses. If the 76ers went the rebuild route, all those first-round picks could be a bonus.

However, the preferred short-term option is to find a running mate for Embiid and use Harden or picks/players gotten for Harden to land that player. It’s just a very difficult market to pull that off in, and now the 76ers have the added distraction of a league inquiry into why Harden called Morey a liar.

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Never a dull offseason with the 76ers.

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