Philadelphia 76ers president Daryl Morey disputed reports Thursday that Ben Simmons was made available in trade talks for James Harden with the Houston Rockets.
Soon after the reports were published, Morey told Charania that the team is not trading Simmons.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 18, 2020
Whether Morey really intends to keep Simmons or is just trying to maintain leverage, it’s yet another chapter in the protracted saga of Harden’s trade request.
Where will James Harden end up?
Progress in the stand-off between Harden and the Rockets has been slow since the player made it known that he wants out of Houston. Harden set the tone of the discussion by skipping the first few days of Rockets training camp while openly partying, then didn’t do much to dispel rumors of his trade demand when he joined the team.
The Rockets have been understandably apprehensive to trade away their superstar, but Harden reportedly indicated not even a swap of Russell Westbrook for John Wall was enough to change his mind.
As for where Harden ends up, he reportedly has two preferred destinations in mind, then what you might call acceptable destinations.
At the top of the list are the Sixers and Brooklyn Nets, both intriguing destinations that would represent reunions for Harden (Kevin Durant in Brooklyn and GM Daryl Morey in Philly). However, given the reports of Simmons not being enough to spur a deal and what has been reported about the Rockets’ interest in a Nets trade, that may not be happening.
Next on the list are two more contenders in the East, the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks. It’s unclear how much interest is on either end.
Intriguingly, ESPN reports that the Rockets are increasingly expanding trade discussions beyond Harden’s preferred destinations, with several playoff-caliber teams reportedly offering significant assets for Harden.
The Rockets would still probably prefer to keep Harden and see if he can make it work with Wall and a revamped core that now also includes Christian Wood and DeMarcus Cousins, but this clearly could go any number of ways.
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