James Harden trade rumors are heating up again. He reportedly let the Houston Rockets know before training camp that he’d be open to a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers, so it wasn’t surprising that the topic came up at the Sixers’ practice on Tuesday. Head coach Doc Rivers addressed the matter.
“You’re not hearing them from us,” Rivers said firmly when asked about the rumors. “As long as you don’t hear them from us, you should feel very comfortable. We like our team, man. I tell you, that team I just watched out there is special. Those rumors, none are coming from us.”
Of course, this is the kind of response you’d expect from a head coach in this situation. Nevertheless, Rivers’ statement lines up with where the Sixers seem to stand at the moment based on everything else we’ve heard.
Daryl Morey has said from the start of his tenure as the Sixers’ President of Basketball Operations that they don’t want to trade Simmons or Joel Embiid. The latest update from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon confirmed this. They reported that even though Harden would be open to a trade to Philly, the Sixers and Rockets have had “no substantive talks about a potential Harden deal,” and reiterated that Morey has said he has no intentions of splitting up Simmons and Embiid.
Every team should have interest in trading for someone as talented as James Harden. He’s a perennial MVP candidate, a top offense by himself, and one of the greatest offensive players in NBA history, even with some of his poor playoff performances. If Harden is attainable, the Sixers should go for it.
However, at least for the time being, it doesn’t look like there are any developing trade talks between the Sixers and Rockets. As rough as this situation has been with Harden, he’s still under contract for at least two years with a player option for 2022-23 — the Rockets can take their time to get the exact trade offer they want.
For the Sixers, it would surely cost a lot more than just Simmons. The Rockets want a “young franchise cornerstone,” as well as a bunch of first-round picks and young talent on rookie deals, per Wojnarowski and MacMahon.
If the Sixers want to wait and see what they have in Simmons and Embiid with a new coaching staff and a roster that far better complements their young stars, and are happy maintaining their assets for now and the security they have with Simmons’ five-year contract, it’s absolutely understandable.