It’s been less than a week since news broke of Daryl Morey joining the Sixers as their new President of Basketball Operations. Morey is famous for being an aggressive in the trade market and it didn’t take long for trade rumors to follow. The Athletic’s NBA Insider, Shams Charania, reported that the Sixers are expected to pursue former NBA MVP James Harden.
"I'm told Philadelphia is expected to be interested in and pursue James Harden"— Stadium (@Stadium) November 3, 2020
Our NBA Insider @ShamsCharania reports a Harden move for Houston is currently a non-starter. pic.twitter.com/7JaZH69WLt
While the Sixers pursing a trade for Harden is certainly big news, it’s not very surprising. It’s well documented that Harden has been very close with Morey from their years in Houston together.
It’s also very notable to point out that Charania also mentioned that the Rockets have let it be known that they have no interest in dealing Harden as of now. Harden has been a top 5 NBA player for the past few years and has grown within their organization. It would likely take a trade request from Harden to get anything moving in these discussions, which is currently unlikely by the sounds of it.
While James Harden has become one of the best scorers in NBA history and would bring shot creation the Sixers have desperately needed, the team might not think it’s worth giving up on a 24 year old Ben Simmons or 26 year old Joel Embiid. Harden’s game will likely age decently, but he’s already 31, meaning we’ve probably seen the best of him for his NBA career.
It also seems like the Rockets are uninterested in trading Harden for any deal involving Simmons, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon:
Reminder, via @espn_macmahon: "I’ve already been told with a few expletives included by somebody with the Rockets: ‘No, Daryl, James Harden for Ben Simmons is not happening. Don’t ask.’"https://t.co/NgmQObXBH1 https://t.co/hqazaAGhqH— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) November 3, 2020
I can’t see the Sixers or Daryl Morey moving Embiid in the event of this trade. Morey was very vocal on how excited he was to work with the Sixers’ franchise player; even posting this wholesome screenshot on Twitter:
On to bigger things pic.twitter.com/dhXWkRN0ht— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) November 2, 2020
Now, it would be a game changer if you can acquire Harden for a massive trade package that keeps Simmons and Embiid dawning the red, white, and blue. This would be an incredibly hard to deal to pull off; and would likely take almost every asset the Sixers have to get done.
Harden’s contract is incredibly large and could be matched up with Horford’s or Harris’ salary. Obviously Houston won’t trade a MVP for either one of those players straight up, so Daryl Morey would have to pile on a lot of sweeteners in the event of a trade to have any chance.
That being said, the Sixers — along with everyone else in the NBA — should definitely have interest and monitor the Houston Rockets as they’re a team that will likely rebuild within the next few years. Can Daryl Morey land James Harden for the second time in his NBA career? We will definitely find out.