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Reuniting Mike D’Antoni and James Harden as Sixers wouldn’t make sense | Mailbag

Harden is scheduled to make $41.2 million this upcoming season and $44.3 million in 2021-22. Then he has a player option for $47.3 million in 2022-23.

The Houston Rockets' James Harden, left, talks with coach Mike D'Antoni.
The Houston Rockets' James Harden, left, talks with coach Mike D'Antoni.Read moreBen Margot / AP

This is the 29th edition of the weekly 76ers mailbag.

Each week, followers may submit questions to be answered.

Missed out on the party this week? No worries. Submit question(s) for next time by following me on Twitter @PompeyOnSixers and tweeting your inquiry with the hashtag #PompeysMailbagFlow.

Question: Do you think the Sixers can get Mike D’Antoni and James Harden? — @BenjaminRaskas

Answer: What’s up, Benjamin? I hope you are doing well. In regards to your question, I don’t see the Sixers getting both of them. Sources have told The Inquirer for weeks that the Sixers job is his to lose. However, I think it would be wishful thinking to get them both. I’m not saying that it won’t happen. I’m just saying that it may be tough the way the possibility is being presented.

Harden is scheduled to make $41.2 million this upcoming season and $44.3 million in 2021-22. Then he has a player option for $47.3 million in 2022-23 before becoming an unrestricted free agent the following off season.

According to the report, the hope is that he’ll turn down the player option and come to the Sixers in 2022-23. Come on, now. Again, come on, now! I don’t see anyone opting out of $47.3 million to come to a team already dealing with salary cap issues. That would make no sense. Now, he could wait until after he gets that money and try to force a trade. But that' still a lot of money to take in.

The Sixers could try to trade for Harden this season. But who would the Rockets get in return for equal value? We are talking about a former MVP, perennial All-NBA selection and huge fan favorite in Houston. So in addition to getting salaries to match, the Rockets better make the people they’ll receive in exchange make the fans forget about Harden. So I definitely don’t see a Harden and D’Antoni reunion in Philly.

Q: Is it the most ridiculous theory to hire a coach and change players to conform to what the new coach likes? Coaches should be adaptable to his players and nice versa. — @HarveylSinger

A: What’s up, Harvey? Thanks for your question/observation. I have to say that I was surprised with the Sixers' interest in D’Antoni due to their personnel not fitting his freewheeling style. There’s no guarantee that they will be able to make the trades needed for the possible face-lift because they have hard-to-move contracts. A lot of league executives and league coaches are actually bewildered by what the Sixers' thinking.

Q: Hey Keith, currently looks like there will be no changes except for firing Brett Brown. How bad does general manager Elton Brand look after all the promises he made about evaluating the organization? He can’t say that he thinks it’s fine as it. — @realstuartl

A: What’s good, Stuart? Long time, no chat. I hope you and the family are well. From the outside looking in, yes, it does make Brand look bad. However, these decisions are above his pay grade.

As I wrote Wednesday, Brand has been given credit publicly for most of the Sixers' key decisions since he was named GM two years ago. But the owners and other front-office people have been more deeply involved than the team has admitted. Part of Brand’s job is to be on the front line taking the hits for the organization. That will definitely happen again if no front-office moves are made. But this decision is above his pay grade.

Q: When was the last time an NBA team won the championship with the center as their best player? — @bradleyryder

A: Thanks for the question, Bradley. I hope your day is going well, my man. I actually see where you are going with your question. You are not slick. The 2014 San Antonio Spurs were the last team to win an NBA title with the center as their best player. And some will argue that center Tim Duncan, who was his late 30s at that time, had passed the best-player torch to small forward Kawhi Leonard, who won the first of his two NBA Finals MVP awards that season. In fact, only one (Duncan in 2005) of the last 16 Finals MVP awards have gone to a center. Dirk Nowitzki was listed as a power forward while winning it in 2011.

So yes, the game has definitely changed. That’s evident by teams starting to go to smaller lineups while devaluing the traditional center position.