Houston Rockets star James Harden recently expressed interest in being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, per ESPN.
Meanwhile, the Sixers figure to get involved in talks, considering former Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is now president of basketball operations for Philly.
However, Morey might also be the reason the Sixers are unable to land Harden in a trade, per Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice. Neubeck reported some executives question whether Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta would allow Harden to be traded to the Sixers given Morey's presence.
The other complicating factor for Philadelphia is the willingness for Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta to greenlight a deal with Morey, just months removed from his Houston departure. Reactions from around the league have varied. Multiple league sources have indicated to PhillyVoice that they believe Fertitta would not agree to deal Harden to Philadelphia specifically, with another suggesting the Sixers would have to pony up what would essentially be an extra “tax” to convince the Rockets to reunite Morey and Harden in another city. Teams are ultimately self-interested and will attempt to make whatever deal best helps their franchise, but you should never underestimate the stubbornness of a billionaire.
Morey's relationship with Fertitta and the Rockets organization is complicated. He grew in prominence and esteem over a number of years in Houston.
But things soured a bit last year. Fertitta blasted Morey after he spoke out in support of Chinese protestors in Hong Kong. There were internal rumblings Fertitta debated firing Morey.
Ultimately, Morey stayed on as GM and bought into the small-ball roster. The experiment failed, and Morey–along with former head coach Mike D'Antoni–left his position.
Morey had initially stated a desire to take on new challenges outside of basketball. Clearly, that was not the case.
Perhaps Fertitta feels a certain level of vindictiveness towards Morey, which could cloud any potential negotiations between the teams.
It might not matter anyway, as Morey has said he will not split up Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.