the Philadelphia 76ers the desire to land James Harden came to fruition last season when they were one of two finalists in the market to trade for him when he was with the Houston Rockets. Harden and the Rockets front office ultimately chose the Brooklyn Nets, leaving the Sixers to pursue other prospects.
To date, the Sixers haven’t landed a star via trade. And now one of their own stars wants out as Ben Simmons asked the organization for a trade in June. While the Sixers tested the waters for a Simmons trade, they never received an offer they liked.
Philly hoped that Simmons would accept that he was not moved and returned to the team. However, the star guard has stayed on the floor for 53 consecutive games this year. His decision to hold on never forced Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey to panic and sell the star for less than he was looking for and his patience may soon pay off.
While James Harden preferred Brooklyn last season, he admitted he grew frustrated with the Nets. Mix his admitted frustrations with the fact that Harden rejected an extension in the fall, and it becomes clear that Harden could leave Brooklyn in the offseason.
The Nets are banking on the idea that they will turn things around and convince Harden to stay. Therefore, they are reluctant to discuss a deal with the 76ers to trade Simmons and Harden before Thursday’s trade deadline. However, the Sixers seem confident that Harden’s days in Brooklyn are numbered even if he stays with the Nets for the rest of the year. according to Sam Amick of Athleticism.
“As our Shams Charania reported recently, there have been ‘growing concerns’ about Harden’s style of play lately – and that was before he started missing games with a hamstring- painful leg. But the Sixers, sources say, firmly believe he won’t re-sign with the Nets and are hoping Brooklyn will see the light before the deadline bell rings.
On Monday, there were multiple reports that the Sixers and Nets aren’t close to reaching a deal until Thursday. Amick reiterated that trade talks between Philly and Brooklyn “didn’t go anywhere”, two days before the deadline began.
In the NBA, things can change at a rapid pace, and it’s hard to say a deal between the Sixers and the Nets could never materialize until Thursday afternoon. But it looks like unless Harden outright admits he has no plans to return to the Nets next season, Brooklyn will keep him in hopes he changes his mind.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.