The Houston Rockets are aware that a lot of teams will be calling to inquire about James Harden. But if there is one team who may want to save themselves that trouble of being turned down, it would have to be the Philadelphia 76ers.
Philly is reportedly interested in the former NBA MVP but any pitch, no matter how tempting, is likely to be thumbed down. This stems from the fact that Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta does not want to negotiate with former general manager Daryl Morey. Morey is now the President of Basketball Operations for the Sixers and both have a strained relationship, Kevin O’Conner of The Ringer reported.
Hence, reports of the Sixers targeting Harden may be futile. Even if they wanted to join the chase, it appears imminent that Harden prefers to head to Brooklyn and reunite with former OKC Thunder teammate and friend Kevin Durant.
Harden to Philly is unlikely;
“Will Tilman Fertitta trade James Harden to Daryl Morey? I’ve been told probably not...I think Morey would offer way more than just Ben Simmons, but I’ve still been told unlikely that Fertitta wouldn’t trade him to Morey.”
- via @KevinOConnorNBA pic.twitter.com/9mgaFoZZK3 — Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 17, 2020
A move to the Nets would also see Harden joining forces with Kyrie Irving. Once consummated, the Nets would have their own Big Three for next NBA season and make them legitimate contenders for the NBA title.
The Sixers would have traded either Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid to the Rockets if a deal was being discussed, The Athletic reported. But Morey would have added more assets to secure Harden. It remains to be seen if the 76ers will still go ahead as planned and try to pry Harden from the Rockets.
For Houston, the plight of the team is a bit rocky. Aside from Harden, they stand to lose Russell Westbrook too. It was the former MVP who first asked to be traded since he was not convinced of Houston’s plans moving forward.
Westbrook has been linked to the New York Knicks and the Charlotte Hornets. But the only problem with that is that he carries an expensive $132 million contract that has gotten interested team thinking. Like in the case of the Knicks, Leon Rose and Tom Thibodeau are not too comfortable about investing heavily on Westbrook since it would limit their flexibility of adding more stars to Gotham.
But the outlook seems pretty clear for the Rockets with the impending departure of the two NBA stars. They are likely to end up rebuilding once more after their previous runs fell short of hitting their target.