James Harden‘s tenure in Houston seems to be coming to a close. The former NBA MVP has been holding out of training camp in hopes of getting traded to a perennial title contender, and he might’ve just found his next destination.
Harden has informed the Rockets that he would be open to a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers to reunite with ex-Rockets general manager Daryl Morey. Acquiring Harden wouldn’t be cheap, but is it possible the 76ers could land the eight-time All-Star without giving up Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid?
James Harden wants out of Houston
The Houston Rockets have started training camp ahead of the 2020-21 NBA season, but James Harden is nowhere to be found. Harden has been holding out from team activities as he seeks a trade to a more serious championship contender.
The former MVP was spotted partying in a night club in Las Vegas the night before Houston started training camp, and he still hasn’t reported to the Rockets’ facility.
Harden first expressed interest in joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the Brooklyn Nets. The three All-Stars would form a superteam that would make Brooklyn the prohibitive favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference this season, but trade talks haven’t gotten anywhere between the two sides.
Now, Harden has shifted his focus to another Eastern Conference contender.
Harden tells the Rockets he wants to join the Philadelphia 76ers
On Tuesday afternoon, Tim MacMahon and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Harden informed the Rockets that he would be open to a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ general manager for the last 13 years, built a title contender around Harden, but Houston’s championship window has all but closed. Morey is now in Philadelphia, and Harden is interested in reuniting with the man who believed in him for so many years.
With Russell Westbrook and Robert Covington moving on from the team, the Rockets are no longer a title contender in the Western Conference. Harden knows that, and he wants to spend the few years left of his prime competing for a ring. He can do so in Philadelphia with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Can the 76ers trade for James Harden without giving up Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid?
If the Rockets do decide to trade Harden before the 2020-21 season, it won’t be for cheap. The Rockets have reportedly been asking for “a package that includes a young franchise cornerstone and a bundle of first-round picks and/or talented players on rookie contracts,” according to MacMahon and Wojnarowski.
The Rockets probably wouldn’t make a deal that didn’t involve either Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid, but Morey has been adamant that neither player is going anywhere. Could the 76ers put together a package enticing enough to land Harden without letting go of their two young All-Stars?
Tobias Harris would be the obvious piece to move, as he has the most potential on the roster behind Simmons and Embiid. The Sixers would need to add in a few young players to make a fair deal, though. Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, and 2020 first-round pick Tyrese Maxey could be possible options. Philadelphia would also have to throw in a healthy mix of draft picks.
Harden, Simmons, and Embiid on the same roster would make the 76ers a legitimate title contender this season. Let’s see if Morey can work his magic while the iron’s hot.