James Harden has expanded his trade request destination list beyond the Brooklyn Nets to include the Philadelphia 76ers among other contenders, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim McMahon of ESPN.
Harden, the perennial MVP candidate who is holding out of training camp, previously requested to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets to form a superteam with former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
After it was clear there was no traction in talks with the Nets, Harden expressed to the Rockets that he would be agreeable if a trade with the 76ers materialized, sources said. Harden also indicated that other teams could fit his criteria for a preferred destination, a source said.
The Rockets and the Sixers have had no substantive talks about a potential Harden deal, sources said. New Philadelphia president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ general manager for the previous 13 seasons, has said he has no intention to break up the Sixers’ All-Star duo of center Joel Embiid and guard/forward Ben Simmons.
As the report notes (and as Morey’s interviews have indicated), the Sixers don’t seem to be willing to part with franchise cornerstones Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
While it has always seemed obvious that the Sixers should be interested in acquiring Harden, there’s been little to suggest that the Sixers and Rockets have seriously engaged in trade discussions. With Harden initially having identified the Brooklyn Nets as his preferred destination and the Sixers unwilling to deal Simmons or Embiid, it seemed as though the Nets were the most likely landing spot. Now though, with Harden adding Philadelphia to his list of targets, the possibility 8-time-All-Star coming to Philly is starting to seem a bit more realistic.
It ultimately comes down to what the Sixers are able and willing to offer Houston with Embiid and Simmons off the table. Morey used the offseason to add young prospects, bringing the team’s collection of talent on cheap contracts to Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe, and Paul Reed. The franchise also has it’s own first round draft picks to offer outside of the 2025 NBA draft (a pick with top-6 protections that is scheduled to go to the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of the Al Horford trade). Could a package such as Thybulle, Milton, Maxey and draft picks get it done? Houston appears to hold the leverage right now and they could create a bidding war between the Sixers and Nets, among others.