By Tommy Matthews

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne has had great sources on the Sixers for a couple of years now.

And yesterday, Shelburne spoke on not only the Sixers’ upcoming decision on whether or not they will pay Harden superstar money but what else the team may be required to do to retain the future Hall of Famer:

“Well, they have to start with the decision: Do you want to move forward with James Harden and Joel Embiid as your pairing? Is this your superstar pairing moving forward?

Because James Harden can become a free agent, which means that you have to decide if you want to give him a four-year contract. Do you want to lock this in for the next four years?

And that decision, from what I understand talking to people… also now becomes tied to the decision about Doc Rivers because James Harden was not all that supportive of Doc Rivers in his press conference yesterday.

I think behind the scenes from what I’m told, that one person said ‘it would be hard for me to see James wanting to come back and play for Doc again.’

This is going to be a situation where those two decisions are linked. As we go forward into this into this offseason and you have another second round exit, you have to decide if you want to lock in your future around those two guys, and then if you’re doing that, what does that mean for Doc Rivers because the decision seems to be linked.”

While any outcome is possible, that being the Sixers retaining Harden, Rivers, both, or neither, it seems reasonable to suggest, based on what he said — and, more importantly, didn’t say — that Harden wouldn’t be heartbroken over a coaching change. Either way, it is an interesting start to the Sixers’ offseason.

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